Telehealth Challenges Continue as The Pandemic Rages On

While telehealth services were booming in the early days of the COVID pandemic, there are signs that interest in telemedicine may be waning. I believe that the cause is that the most vulnerable senior population does not have access to the technology to have a billable virtual visit. 

This opens a great new opportunity for providers to partner with physician offices to solve this problem.  Here is a look at recent coverage of telemedicine from Today’s Hospitalist Magazine.

Fewer patient visits to the Physician’s Office?

While many industry experts predicted that the embrace of telemedicine seen during the pandemic would continue once Corona Virus had subsided, there are signs that the use of telemedicine has already started to decline.

An article in STAT says that during the week of June 14, telemedicine was used for 8% of the number of visits that would have occurred before the pandemic. In April, the number was nearly 14%. The article says that the decline in telemedicine visits could be due to difficulties getting patients—particularly the elderly—to use technology and due to a lack of technical resources in smaller groups.

The report notes that groups with 100-plus providers shifted almost 16% of their pre-pandemic volumes to telemedicine, compared to 8% for groups with five or fewer clinicians. Telemedicine challenges provide the post-acute world providers with opportunities to help physician offices by offering to go to their elderly patients’ homes and contribute to providing the technology or the support to the seniors and allowing the seniors to get access to needed health care experts from the comfort of their homes.

Have you reached out to the doctor’s offices in your service area? 

Maybe this is a way to get introduced to new potential patients? Could the doctors’ offices become one of our clients?  Could they pay us to go into the patients’ homes and support the seniors with using these services? I will share with you several of our clients have been able to build their census by providing this service.

Insurance Companies are scaling back coverage for telehealth

report in Becker’s Hospital Review says that some payers are scaling back their telehealth coverage. The report notes that some Arizona insurers had begun to decrease telehealth coverage, but as hospital ICUs in the state have filled with COVID patients, they have restored telehealth coverage. 

You will need to make sure that you stay up to date with what is happening with each insurance company so you can support the physician’s offices appropriately.  See if you can find a list service that you can sign up for updates for the payers in your territory.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, for example, is scaling back its telehealth coverage at the end of August, and Aetna began charging patients co-pays and cost-sharing for telehealth visits in early June.

Reported Fraud in telehealth

Another report from Becker’s notes that Medicare administrator Seema Verma noted in an interview with Business Insider that the CMS is investigating fraudulent charges for telehealth services. She noted that some providers are billing for “more visits than are humanly possible in a day.”  All of this leads us to wonder what will happen next.  Keep your eyes and ears open!

Finally: Physician’s Resistance Is a Reality

Many doctor like the good old fashion in-person physical encounter. They like to do a complete physical assessment with their own eyes and ears. Many diseases can be diagnosed and treated by just asking questions and interviewing a patient can be immensely powerful. However, many mistakes can also happen without the hands-on assessment of a skillfully trained physician.

If we can find a way to bring both into a senior’s home, we will hit a home run. Many providers are using remote patient monitoring equipment to help the physician with vital signs and others are using a nurse to report assessment findings to support the physician.

What can you do to make Telemedicine a success? We would love for you to share success stories with us so we can share it with our loyal listeners. Email ideas to Success@homecaresales.com.

 

Thank you in advance for all that you do to change lives every day!

Cheryl

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