Basics of Telehealth Physical Therapy
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has broadened access to telehealth services including physical therapy. With revised billing guidelines, all beneficiaries can now connect with their healthcare providers online, and providers will get the same reimbursement for these services as they would for in-person sessions. Medicare covers three types of telehealth physical therapy services i.e., telehealth services, e-visits, and virtual check-ins. But physical therapist still needs to follow a few basic practices for getting paid for telehealth physical therapy, let’s discuss them.
Verification of Identity
Given that in the telehealth clinical setting the beneficiary and therapist are not in the same location and may not have established a prior in-person relationship, it is critical, at least initially, that the identities of the physical therapy providers and beneficiary be verified. Photo identification is recommended for both the beneficiary and all parties who may be involved in the delivery of care to the beneficiary. The photo identification, at minimum, should include the name of the individual; however, personal information such as address or driver’s license number.
Just as PTs must follow state law requirements and professional best practices for acquiring informed consent for in-person encounters, the same requirements should be followed for the delivery of physical therapy services via telehealth technologies. Given the unique nature of the provision of services through telehealth, there are some special considerations including:
- Consent to be photographed, recorded, or videotaped and consent to the storage of the encounter data, if applicable. Disclosure should be made as to how long data will be stored.
- Consent procedures should include a hold harmless clause for medical or other information lost because of technology failures. Beneficiaries should be informed of the possibility of failure of the technologies used to provide telehealth services.
Standards of Care
It is the responsibility of the PT to ensure the standard of care required both professionally and legally per the practice act is met. As such, it is incumbent upon the PT to determine which beneficiaries and therapeutic interventions are appropriate for the utilization of technology as a component of, or in lieu of, in-person provision of physical therapy care. Physical therapy providers shall be guided by professional discipline, best available evidence, and any existing clinical practice guidelines when practicing via telehealth. Physical therapy interventions and/or referrals/consultations made using technology will be held to the same standards of care as those in traditional (in-person) settings.
Physical therapy providers delivering care using technology must be authorized by law (licensure or certification) to provide physical therapy services in the state or jurisdiction in which the beneficiary is physically located during the PT and beneficiary interaction. This originating site, or beneficiary site, is the location where physical therapy care occurs. The provider must be licensed in the jurisdiction where the beneficiary is located and must adhere to the laws defining the scope of practice in that jurisdiction, however, the provider should not be required to be physically located in that same jurisdiction. The physical therapy providers should ensure compliance with regulatory requirements as applicable.
In case any help is needed in getting paid for telehealth physical therapy, contact MedicalBillersandCoders (MBC). We are a leading revenue cycle company providing complete medical billing services. We can assist you in receiving accurate insurance reimbursement for physical therapy. To know more about our physical therapy billing services, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org/ 888-357-3226