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Your COVID-19 Response: Leveraging Part-B In-Home Therapy + Updates RE: Virtual Visits for Rehab

Did you miss NetHealth’s webinar last weeK? The topic resonated with the industry; 2000+ providers registered to attend + ~75 questions logged during the FAQ. 

Discussion focused on the advantages of / and considerations for multiple Medicare Part B service models:  in-clinic; at home; virtual visits.

Here are the highlights!

Continuing outpatient rehab amidst the COVID-19 crisis requires careful thought: The need for balancing social distancing mandates with the need for continuing to provide safe, effective, high quality care.  Speakers discussed options, rationale and best practices for therapy providers & patients.

The 75-minute webinar kicked off with a brief discussion on COVID-19 observations + review of CDC guidance for out-patient clinics, inclusive of preventing symptomatic patients from being allowed to enter clinics and instructing older/immunocompromised patients to remain at home.  Discussion also focused on in-clinic considerations (including alternative one-on-one treatment approaches, creative staffing design and unique scheduling ideas) to limit potential risk/exposure to infection. 

Medicare Part B Therapy at Home
HealthPRO Heritage’s Hilary Forman, Chief Clinical Strategies Officer, described Medicare Part B In-Home therapy services as a “unique care model.” In this scenario, although the beneficiary isn’t considered home-bound (and as long as they are not receiving Medicare Part A services), therapy can be provided conveniently within the patient’s residence (neighborhood home or senior living community). Several advantages (e.g.: convenience, less costly, decreased risk of exposure) for both patients as well as providers make this model of care an attractive alternative.  

“HealthPRO Heritage advocates for Medicare Part B services in the home as a strategy for improving population health, especially for seniors who are vulnerable to communicable illnesses + risks associated with travel for healthcare appointments,” stated Ms. Forman.  “And not only does this model mean reduced facility & equipment overhead for providers, it’s a smart diversification strategy that leads to expanded referrals & partnership opportunities.”

“Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, HealthPRO Heritage therapists delivering Part B services in the home are another essential set of eyes on our seniors,” continued Ms. Forman. “Best practices include monitoring for changes in functional status, decline in health and/or ensuring proper administration of medications. Our therapists – who always follow strict infection control practices – instruct on proper handwashing and other infection control practices for patients and other family members in the home.”

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Virtual Visits for Rehab
Telehealth, virtual check-ins and e-visits with physician and hospitals are available for Medicare beneficiaries, but specifics related to Medicare Part B coverage for virtual services for therapy are ever-changing. 

Rick Gawenda, President of Gawenda Seminars & Consulting, described that, as of March 2020, Medicare does not cover telehealth services for PT/OT/ST, but providers may choose to issue a voluntary ABN to charge a cash rate.  Fees associated with e-visits (only when initiated by the beneficiary) are covered by Medicare; “Qualified Health Professionals” (ie: registered PT/OT and Speech Therapists) can provide email/phone support, document and bill specific codes, but the process for this intervention is well-defined and controlled via a universal patient portal managed by Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Mr. Gawenda also advised that coverage for telehealth and e-visits vary between non-Medicare carriers.  For example, Tricare covers telehealth and e-visits for therapy services, but providers must check with individual plans.  He recommended monitoring state and national association websites; bookmarking top insurance carriers’ websites and monitoring social media to keep apprised of ongoing changes to telehealth and e-visit policy changes that are occurring almost daily.

Looking for the webinar’s recorded webinar?
Contact HealthPRO Heritage at info@healthpro-heritage.com  

Tags: COVID-19