An Ounce of Prevention
Healthcare providers have found themselves under immense pressure to maintain continuity of care during the COVID-19 crisis, but many aspects of the U.S. health system were not designed to support such an effort. To help providers more effectively deliver care that will not only keep patients healthy but also in their homes and away from hospitals, which are largely focused on treating COVID-19 patients, government agencies, commercial payers, and other healthcare organizations have worked to change the system. Approaches taken include the creation of new and expansion of existing telehealth and remote tools and support, including remote patient monitoring (RPM). For example, we have seen federal waivers and revised state regulations that greatly expand the ability for healthcare providers to deliver telehealth and remote services; commercial payers revising their policies to pay for these services, and healthcare companies offering resources to help providers more effectively leverage telehealth and remote services during the crisis. If your practice is considering launching or growing an existing telehealth and/or remote services program during the pandemic, here are five things you should know.
The annual wellness visit (AWV) is an important tool for providers to track and help manage the health and wellbeing of their Medicare patients. Social distancing is crucial to combat our current health crisis, but so is maintaining continuity of care with your most vulnerable patients. Fortunately, Medicare understands the importance of the AWV, and included it in it's initial §1135 waiver so that it can be performed entirely via telehealth on any Medicare beneficiary. As of 4/30/20, Medicare further waived restrictions, and now allows Annual Wellness Visits to be conducted via audio-only telehealth (i.e. over the telephone) for the duration of the waiver.