Providing healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic is no easy feat. As our nation practices social distancing, non-essential medical services are being delayed or provided remotely. The good news is that payers are increasing reimbursement for these remote visits, and healthcare businesses are eager to drive patients to telemedicine bookings.
But how do you make the leap? We’ve gathered resources for hospitals, urgent care centers, and other health providers in the three strategies below.
1. Find Resources for the Transition
An important step on the front end of this transition is identifying how you will pay for telehealth investments, as well as how you will be reimbursed for services. Fortunately, public-sector and commercial payers are both covering more telehealth costs than ever, and new funding is available.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has identified over 80 services that can now be provided via telehealth. CMS is also allowing Medicare Advantage carriers to waive cost-sharing for telehealth services and reimbursing in the same amounts as in-person visits.
New grant opportunities have opened up as well. The Federal Communications Commission is leveraging the economic stimulus package to fund nonprofit and other providers’ investments in telehealth access. As of the date of this post’s publication, the program has funded 30 health care providers in 16 states for a total of $13.7 million in funding. The FCC will continue to evaluate applications and distribute funding on a rolling basis.
Beyond the public sector, some commercial and private payers are also making more available. The American Medical Association is tracking coverage expansions, with relevant commercial payer links and CPT code lists in its Quick Guide to Telemedicine in Practice.
2. Select and Implement New Systems
Okay, so you’re ready to make the investment. But how do you move forward? You’ll need new systems and workflows to deliver care. The American Telemedicine Association, in its Quick-Start Guide to Telehealth During a Crisis, outlines critical steps and considerations, including:
- Take inventory of the technology you already have that can be used for telehealth.
- Determine which patients will be treated via telehealth.
- Develop a workflow to manage these visits.
- Establish guidelines to use while engaging with patients using telehealth.
- Decide how to communicate these changes to personnel and patients alike.
- Define the metrics you’ll use to gauge patient satisfaction and telehealth effectiveness.
3. Track Quality of Care During the Shift
One of the biggest concerns in the telemedicine transition is quality of care. Patient experience is directly tied to quality and health outcomes, so closely monitoring patient experience can help you maintain a high quality of care during any period of rapid change.
That means surveys are essential. Make sure that your survey tool has a high response rate and actionable analytics, and include all your team members in opportunities to learn from the data.
Calibrater can help gauge customer satisfaction as your healthcare facility moves to telehealth by offering performance insights, as well as native text surveys to encourage patient feedback. These surveys can be customized per patient and have a 30-40% response rate from patients of all ages and demographics.
Easing the Transition
Telehealth is making it possible for many patients to receive care while staying safely indoors and away from hospitals and urgent care centers, which otherwise might pose a major transmission risk. But quality of care is at stake, so make sure to make this transition in the right way.
Calibrater’s technology can help healthcare businesses communicate with staff and patients, while driving patients to book telehealth appointments online. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we developed a new mass texting feature, and now we’re building even more enhancements inspired by our healthcare heroes on the front lines.
With smart surveys, you can split your patient population to choose which patients get which surveys. Your surveys can be tailored to visit type, location, patient age, or even split your population at random if you want one survey to go to some patients, and another survey to the others.