Home Monitoring for Patients Is the Best Option With Social Distancing
These days, crowded waiting rooms and patients walking past one another on their way to examination rooms is becoming a health risk in its own right. The spiking cases of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 infections has led countries to formulate policies about social distancing. The idea is to minimize the chance of infected individuals being able to spread the virus.
It’s particularly important to contain transmission since people can walk around in public already infected while feeling fine and exhibiting no symptoms, leading to further spread of COVID-19.
In fact, with the sudden shift towards people keeping away from one another to counter the transmission and spread of COVID-19, there is a serious push towards remote and portal based patient monitoring solutions.
It’s of vital importance that the people your practice diagnoses and treats can access patient portals. As a telemedicine provider with specialization in patient portal software integration, ADS understands the importance of having a patient portal system in place, especially in today's current environment.
In this article, we will cover the benefits of having a patient portal and why portals can be so useful in the wake of COVID-19.
Keeping Patients Safe With Social Distancing Thanks to Telemedicine Sessions
Patients who have a medical condition that could leave them more vulnerable to coronavirus are especially in need of a way to get medical support while remaining inside because of social distancing.
Whether a patient is isolated because of lowered immunity or because of quarantine for COVID-19, available technology makes it not just possible but also convenient and safer to have a virtual meeting online with a health care provider.
“In a crisis such as COVID-19 our goal is to benefit the public and decrease the risk of infection and telemedicine is a perfect opportunity to do that,” said Dr. Rahul Sharma during an interview with Good Morning America, according to a recent ABC News report.
The report also notes that telemedicine provides the added benefit of keeping patients who suspect they are infected from visiting an emergency room and possibly infecting others.
Getting Reimbursed for Remote Patient Monitoring During Social Distancing
You and other stakeholders in your medical organization may not be certain about the financial ramifications of establishing remote patient monitoring for patients as we stay separated for social distancing.
You’ll be glad to know that the 2020 Physician Fee Schedule for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now indicates that Medicare will be providing more reimbursements for remote patient monitoring. The ruling on “Chronic Care Remote Physiologic Monitoring” now has a new code (99458) to use for patients who receive an extra 20 minutes of remote services each month, according to a recent report from mHealth Intelligence.
Specifically, the new ruling refers to services that are rendered “incident to” generalized supervision. Previously, both a physician and the care team member would have to be located in the same building while services were being rendered to remote patients. But now, general supervision is deemed acceptable so the doctor and associate can be in different facilities. The result is more providers will be able to make use of remote patient monitoring technology.
They can also spend more time with patients, just when they need it the most. According to mHealth Intelligence, “Under the new guidelines, CPT code 99457 covers the first 20 minutes per month of RPM services, defined as “remote physiologic monitoring treatment management services, clinical staff/physician/other qualified health care professional time in a calendar month requiring interactive communication with the patient/caregiver during the month.” CPT code 99458 would then be used for an additional 20 minutes.
Addressing Stress and Anxiety for Patients Who Need Counseling While Social Distancing
Of course, not all patients will be in need of physical care while they are stuck at home with social distancing requirements in place. The mental health of patients must also be attended to. It can be a challenge to provide these types of services, which are by their nature quite intimate, when people are discouraged from meeting in person whenever possible.
As the Centers for Disease Control put it, “The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.”
The CDC went on to sound a hopeful note, though: “Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”
Remote home monitoring with an up-to-date telemedicine system will allow your healthcare providers to help patients who are in great need of counseling and other mental health treatment.
Consider that the very act of social distancing that is designed to protect us all from getting coronavirus can still lead to ill effects, with people “feeling socially isolated, especially if they live alone or are in a community setting that is not allowing visitors because of the outbreak,” as the CDC noted.
So home monitoring can enable patients to continue with counseling sessions as well as to reach out to a professional on-demand if they experience extreme anxiety or other mental issues. Make sure to factor in mental health services as you explore your options for deploying a telemedicine solution for your organization.
Helping Your Patients With Home Monitoring While We All Must Practice Social Distancing
It’s fortunate that many people have access to high-speed Internet with their computer or smartphone so they can engage in-home monitoring via patient portals in this era of social distancing.
However, you are probably feeling quite burdened with the extra workload that comes with helping an increasingly larger amount of patients during a medical crisis like the coronavirus global pandemic.
With limited time at your disposal, it becomes more critical than ever to stay current on health industry best practices in an efficient way. To that end, please click here for a detailed look at telemedicine software and how you can integrate it into your practice today.
About Christina Rosario
Christina Rosario is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, a leading provider of healthcare IT solutions for medical practices and billing companies. When she's not helping ADS clients boost productivity and profitability, she can be found browsing travel websites, shopping in NYC, and spending time with her family.