What is telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of electronic communication to provide health care from a remote location. Until recently, it has been used mostly in rural areas where the patient and the health care provider are far apart. Over the last several months, many healthcare providers have begun to use telehealth to provide patients with safe alternatives for continuing health services while maintaining social distancing and limiting exposure to COVID-19.
Practitioners that can use telehealth include but are not limited to:
- Nurse practitioners and physician assistants
- Nurse midwives
- Certified nurse anesthetists
- Clinical psychologists
- Clinical social workers
- Registered dietitians
- Nutrition professionals
For therapy services (physical, occupational, and speech therapy), telehealth has recently been approved on a limited basis. Coverage varies depending on your insurance policy.
How do I use Telehealth?
Telehealth must be performed using interactive audio and video components that permit real time, interactive communications with the healthcare provider and the patient. Therefore, in order to use telehealth services, you must have an electronic device with both a camera and access to Wi-Fi. Devices commonly used include:
- Desktop computers
- Smart phones
Once you and your healthcare provider decide to utilize telehealth, your healthcare provider will instruct you further on set up. Each facility may use different telehealth platforms that could require email, text messages, and/or the download of an App to connect to the service. It is important to tell you provider which type of device you will be using to ensure compatability.
What are telehealth Benefits in the wake of COVID 19?
As the COVID 19 pandemic unfolds, the CDC has recommended that Americans stay home when possible and to practice social distancing when it is necessary to leave home. In response to these recommendations, many insurance companies began to approve Telehealth services previously unavailable. This is because telehealth services allow at-risk patients to communicate with healthcare providers from the safety of their home. Telehealth also allows patients with mild symptoms of COVID 19 to continue communications with healthcare providers while in self-quarantine. In terms of physical, occupational, and speech therapy services, telehealth allows patients to continue treatment with therapists to prevent functional decline without the risks of in-clinic visits.
Which Insurances Approve Telehealth for Therapy?
Most insurance companies have only temporarily increased coverage for Telehealth services to limit the spread of COVID 19 virus. These visits are generally viewed the same as an in-person visit and standard co-insurance, copayments, and deductibles apply.
Medicare has approved telehealth for established patients of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistance, nurse midwives, certified nurse anesthetists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, registered dietitians, and nutrition professionals. Medicare has not yet approved telehealth for physical, occupational, or speech therapy services at this time.
Therapy services have been approved for most commercial plans for Blue Cross Blue Shield LA, United Health Care, Aetna, Cigna, and Medicaid for established patients. Furthermore, several commercial insurances have approved therapy services for new patient referrals.
What does Sage Outpatient Offer?
With new recommendations and information relating to COVID-19 emerging daily, healthcare is quickly changing and adapting to the circumstances. Telehealth offers a unique way to meet patients’ medical needs while following CDC recommendations for safety. Sage Outpatient and Day Neuro has adapted their delivery of services is now offering telehealth services to keep our patients moving and out of pain from the safety of their own home. Call today to find out more information on how you could benefit from telehealth services.