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where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.

POSTS BY TAG | Secure Communication



Telemedicine has been pushed into the spotlight in recent weeks in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Due to historically variable and restrictive reimbursement policies, many practices are not currently set up to provide virtual care. In light of the profound disruption caused by the pandemic, we are hearing from practices around the country that need to consider offering telehealth and scrambling to do so. Often, they have to consider tomorrow's appointments and wonder will we get paid for these visits? Well, here is what we know:


MEDICARE WILL COVER ALL TELEHEALTH SERVICES

CMS recently announced a major change to its telehealth reimbursement policy. During this crisis, Medicare will pay for telehealth services regardless of the originating site dating back to March 6, 2020. As long as visits are conducted via video, those visits that would normally be provided in an office, hospital, clinics or other settings, can now be done virtually, even from a patient's home. These visits are considered the same as in-person visits and are paid at the same rate as regular, in-person visits.

The codes that can be billed for what Medicare defines as “telehealth services” are typically evaluation and management (E/M) codes, such as 99213, combined with a telehealth Place of Service (POS) and potentially a modifier if required by the commercial payor.

PLACE OF SERVICE 02:

According to CMS, POS 02 is defined as “the location where health services and health-related services are provided or received, through a telecommunication system.” CMS has replaced the GT modifier with POS 02 and can be used when billing CMS claims for synchronous telemedicine visits. 

GT MODIFIER:

Although it has been widely replaced by the 02 POS location, some private payors still recognize and prefer the GT modifier to indicate a service was rendered via synchronous telecommunication.

MODIFIER 95:

Modifier 95 is a fairly new modifier and used only when billing to private payers to indicate services were rendered via synchronous telecommunication. It is important to note that Medicare and Medicaid do not recognize modifier 95. As with the GT modifier, not all payers recognize modifier 95. 

WHAT ABOUT MEDICAID AND COMMERCIAL PAYERS?

At this point, commercial and Medicaid coverage is still much less consistent. While U.S. Representatives have recommended CMS to encourage states to cover all telemedicine services and work with them to expand their capability to do so, reimbursement remains subject to state-specific requirements. In a similar vein, private health insurers, including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, United Healthcare will also cover telehealth for the next 90 days in some states, but the coverage also varies state by state. We encourage practices to always confirm local guidelines.

GET STARTED WITH pMD TELEHEALTH TODAY

pMD® Secure Messaging™ telemedicine capabilities allow practices to connect, triage, and follow up with patients through secure, HIPAA-compliant text, video, and voice calling. Easily invite patients to download the app at no cost to facilitate timely communication when it matters most:

* provide health safety guidelines and recommendations
* share important practice updates and announcements
* outreach to your most vulnerable patient population
* perform telehealth visits with patients advised not to leave their homes

No matter the specialty, pMD is highly customizable to fit your practices’ needs and workflows. View additional information, resources, and FAQs about setting up and providing telehealth services with pMD and how to get started now.   

For help setting up patient communication or to contact pMD customer support, please give us a call at 800-587-4989, x1 or email support@pmd.com.

Stay safe, everyone!

To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.





Telehealth is not a new concept, but amid the recent public health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, it has catapulted to the top of most practices’ priority list. During this pandemic, it is essential to stay informed and know what free resources are available to your practice to help slow the spread of the virus while continuing to provide patients with a high level of care and reassurance. “The use of telemedicine is going to be critical for management of this pandemic,” said Dr. Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease specialist and executive with The Permanente Medical Group, the doctors’ group associated with Kaiser Permanente. 

Telemedicine a Good, Safe Option for COVID-19 Screening & Patient Care

When possible, using virtual visits provides a safe option for care, while helping contain the spread of the infection at hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. Implementing or expanding an existing telehealth strategy will enable health care organizations to safely screen and treat patients for coronavirus. If patients can receive virtual guidance to help know when they need to be seen or tested, we can limit the number of people who show up unannounced at the emergency room or doctor’s office as well as avoid crowded waiting rooms and potential infection. Good communication with patients is key to keeping the worried as calm as possible and away from clinical care so that practices can steer the most at risk to the proper treatment.

Updates To Telehealth Billing for Services During Pandemic

As part of an $8.3 billion emergency funding measure, the government has granted the Department of Human Health and Services (HHS) the ability to loosen restrictions on the use of telemedicine by broadening the originating requirements and providing a nationwide waiver during this emergency. CMS, state Medicaid agencies, and commercial insurers are taking steps to expand telehealth coverage and reimbursement. To improve access to care, CMS announced that during this crisis, Medicare will pay for telehealth services (conducted via video) regardless of the originating site. Private health insurers, including Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and United Healthcare, have also agreed to cover telehealth visits for the next 90 days in some states. Reimbursement policies vary from state to state, so practices are encouraged to confirm local guidelines. 

For more information, please see CMS’s frequently asked questions for health care providers and fact sheet for telehealth services. You can also find additional information regarding new telehealth rules and procedure codes for testing on the American Academy of Family Physicians website. 

pMD’s Free Telehealth Tools

pMD® Secure Messaging™ provides a secure, HIPAA compliant free telemedicine platform solution that allows practices to connect, triage, and follow up with patients through secure, HIPAA-compliant text, video, and voice calling. You can easily invite patients to download the application at no cost to facilitate timely communication when it matters most:

          * provide health safety guidelines and recommendations
          * share important practice updates and announcements
          * outreach to your most vulnerable patient population
          * perform telehealth visits with patients advised not to leave their homes

For help setting up patient communication or to contact pMD customer support, please give us a call at 800-587-4989 x1 or email support@pmd.com. 

Stay safe, everyone!


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.




Each word we speak drips with additional data beyond the dictionary definitions of what we say. In fact, how we say something is often more important than what was communicated. Tone, inflection, pitch, and pronunciation work together to deliver a message that makes up our distinct voices. To convey this same information in writing takes time - something health care providers are often short of. 

Secure Calling with pMD App is Quick & Compliant


In many cases, a provider needs to send a colleague a quick message, but the act of typing out the message itself via text can take longer, especially with complex medical jargon, so providers may resort to voice-based communication. This motivation inspired us to add voice calling to the pMD application. Now, you can immediately get hold of your colleagues via HIPAA-compliant, secure voice calling, eliminating many of the barriers we see in strictly text-based communication. Even if you don’t have a colleague’s cell phone number, pMD community members can be contacted via a secure VoIP call.

But what if you know your colleague is in surgery or in front of a patient? That’s why we added voice memos to the pMD communication suite.

Add the Convenience of Sending Voice Memos


I like to think of voice memos as “guaranteed voicemail.” You save even more time by taking the perks of asynchronous communication found in text messaging and adding the benefits above of voice. When you’re on the go, you can shoot over a voice clip to any of your colleagues and when they are available to respond, they can send either voice or text - whichever is more convenient - back to you!

Keeping Provider Phone Numbers Private & Other Perks


In addition to these general benefits of voice, the voice features in pMD offer additional perks tailored to health care providers and staff. For example, providers can call patients without exposing their cell phone numbers or themselves to additional liability from a 2 am phone call. Patients reaching back out to a provider can be triaged and directed to the appropriate resources via pMD’s Contact Practice feature without disturbing off-duty providers or staff. 

pMD Communication Tools Rapidly Breaks Down Barriers in Health Care


pMD’s suite of communication tools has rapidly broken down barriers in health care to make sure that urgent information can be relayed to those that need to know. With the addition of voice calling and voice memos, that suite now allows users to include all the nuance that hearing something spoken provides as well as the speed of communication that we’re accustomed to. Better communication tools break down barriers to effective care, making doctors, supporting staff, and their patients happy.


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.


Unlocking Patient Access to Specialty Care




Conventional wisdom in health care typically points to increasing access to primary care as one of the biggest drivers when it comes to lowering health care spend and improving patient quality of life. It makes intuitive sense: patients with fewer barriers between them and a Primary Care Physician (PCP) probably stay healthier. However, a recent study is challenging that assumption. Researchers found that, when comparing patients in rural settings to those in urban neighborhoods, rural patients had poorer health outcomes. Again, this might make sense when one considers the likely fewer number of primary care providers in small towns, but the underlying cause the study found was surprising. Researchers discovered that access to a specialist accounted for 55% of the difference in preventable hospitalizations.  Proximity to a PCP didn’t affect the numbers.

Kenton Johnston, lead author of the study told Modern Healthcare:  "CMS and other health policymakers are misguided if they think that expanding access to primary-care providers alone will eliminate disparities in health outcomes for chronically ill rural Americans. The specialized skills and expertise brought by specialists for treating particular chronic conditions are necessary."

This likely comes as a surprise to many readers, but at pMD we’ve had a front-row seat to the essential role that specialists play in patient care since our company was started (our very first customer was a Cardiologist!).  We’re continuing to add new ways for those practices to give their patients access to the care they need, even when those individuals might be geographically located far from the practice.

As an example, our recent release of Patient Chat Routers functionality allows practices to open up new lines of text-based communication for their patients who are enrolled in pMD® Secure Messaging™.  Based on the patient’s request, the message will then be routed to a designated group or individual in the practice. This feature gives practices a seamless and efficient way to connect with their patients about appointment scheduling, test results, and health-related questions.

In 2020, we’ll leverage that foundation and continue to build additional innovative tools for our customers to utilize in order to facilitate frictionless access to care. Soon, Patient Chat Routers will be able to dynamically route messages based on a practice’s call schedule, and we hope to also expand beyond text routing into phone calls as well - something practices often have to rely on via answering services today. Our goal is to break down the barriers that prevent patients from getting the care they need!


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.