Many physician practices are expanding their telehealth capabilities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
At the same time, they are rescheduling many routine appointments for several months from now, especially for patients who might be older or are burdened by chronic conditions.
The telehealth strategy can be an effective method to address screening for the COVID-19 virus. Using telehealth as the ‘first gate’ to screening a patient is also a way to stretch the inventory of protective equipment supplies.
The federal government (CMS) issued regulatory guidance on March 17, 2020, which expanded the use of telehealth, ‘virtual’ visits, and e-visits for Medicare beneficiaries.
Alera Group’s Professional Liability practice has fielded many calls from physician practice clients who seek clarification relating to telemedicine and malpractice insurance coverage.
Alera Group’s team has offered the following:
“Our guidance is that based on your clinical judgment and in the interest of continuity of care, please use alternative methods such as telephone and video conferencing as available. For video conferencing, please work with the vendor to ensure the software includes encryption and HIPAA compliance. Based on your clinical judgment, consider postponing visits of an elective or non-emergent nature if you think it is not possible to adequately evaluate the patient over telephone or video conference methods. Information on this is evolving quickly and the March 17, 2020 release from CMS provides additional clarity specific to Medicare beneficiaries.”
About the Author:
This blog was written by John O’Connell, CEBS, CLU, Healthcare Practice Lead, Alera Group. This blog post is intended to provide general information regarding the status of, and/or potential concerns related to current employer HR and benefits issues. This blog should not be construed as, nor is it intended to provide, legal advice. The opinions expressed herein are based upon the author’s experience as a Healthcare consultant and may not reflect the opinions of your counsel.