You may have heard the term “telemedicine” lately in the blogs and news articles. In case you are wondering, “telemedicine is the ability to provide interactive healthcare using modern technology and communications.” Today we will discuss some modes of operation and benefits of telemedicine.
Telemedicine typically has two modes of operation, those being real-time or store and forward. Real-time treatment is the most common. All parties are present and communicate at the same time. Real-time treatment may be used for in or outpatient specialty consultations or supervision of physician assistants or nurse practitioners.
Store and forward is the other way to use telemedicine. Physicians use this mode when all parties are either not available or not required to be present at the same time. Still images, video, voice and text are recorded and then transmitted to the remote provider for analysis at a later time.
Telemedicine has many benefits, but chief among them are the ability to decrease the cost of care and increase the convenience of treatment. Rural practices benefit from telemedicine by connecting with specialists or other providers without having to fax or mail paper charts or refer patients to distant offices. Likewise, benefit because their access to care is more immediate, without having to travel a long way.
However, many providers have rejected telemedicine because they were unsure how to bill for services rendered in this manner. According to CMS, you can bill for telemedicine services the same way you would bill for a normal in-office procedure or consultation. The difference is that you will need to add a “GT” modifier to indicate the service was performed remotely. The originating facility may also bill for a facility fee. Please download these PDF files for more billing information from CMS: here, and here.
We are excited about telemedicine. We feel that it can benefit many specialties, but may be particularly useful to those in the long term care and home health industries. If you are interested in learning more about telemedicine and how it may be able to help your practice, please let us know. We would love to hear from you.