From start to finish, a telehealth visit in 4 steps
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many practices added or expanded their virtual care offerings and became acquainted with the benefits of leveraging telehealth. If your practice launched telehealth recently, you may have found that certain aspects mirrored in-person visit workflows, while others were unique to virtual care.
Read on for a breakdown of the different kinds of telehealth services and what they require.
What are the different types of telehealth services?
These visits involve an interactive audio and video telecommunications system that connects the provider to the patient in real time.
A virtual check-in is a brief communication of about five to 10 minutes via telephone or another telecommunication device. It could be a phone call or the exchange of a video or digital image to decide whether an office visit or other service is needed.
A non-face-to-face communication between a provider and patient through an online patient portal.
The basics of a telehealth visit
Want to establish telehealth workflows that enable success? Follow these four steps to conduct a telehealth visit from start to finish:
Engage the patient to schedule an appointment.
With telehealth’s recent increase in popularity, your practice should ensure patients are aware these services are available. Using your patient messaging solution, you can send a broadcast notice to all patients to announce your telehealth options and point patients to the patient portal to request or schedule an appointment.
From the portal, patients can also access e-forms to update information such as medication history and insurance information, as well as COVID-19 intake forms to screen for symptoms before their appointment. Additionally, the portal allows patients to communicate with the practice via secure messaging.
After patients request a telehealth appointment, your practice’s patient messaging solution should send an appointment notice through text, email, or voice call. This message should confirm the appointment date and time and provide a link to instructions for the telehealth visit.
A day before the appointment, send an appointment reminder text message with additional instructions. The message can ask patients to visit the portal to update information and remind them to establish their connection 10 minutes prior to the appointment for registration and check-in.
Your virtual check-in workflow should include verifying patient information, confirming the preferred pharmacy, ensuring the proper link to the encounter for billing, and documenting consent for the telehealth visit according to state regulations.
As a best practice, determine what information should be checked to verify a patient’s identity for telehealth visits. For instance, staff could ask for the patient’s name, date of birth, or phone number.
Additionally, if you would have collected a copay before the appointment in an in-person setting, be sure to collect it before the telehealth visit.
For providers, preparing for a telehealth visit means following best practices for a welcoming “webside” manner. These include dressing professionally, setting up a secure environment for the visit, and ensuring the background is free of distractions.
Conduct the telehealth visit.
The next step in the telehealth workflow is the visit itself. Providers should review the patient chart and patient’s medical history just as they would for an in-person appointment. Additionally, any information or messages in the patient portal should be imported beforehand for the provider’s review.
Then, providers should start the visit note, pull the appropriate telehealth template, and begin the telehealth visit. Providers should work through the note as usual, while ensuring a good “webside” manner through intentional listening and clear communication.
During the patient evaluation, the provider will document the patient’s chief complaint and any other symptoms the patient is experiencing. For the physical exam, the provider will ask the patient for current height and weight and other vitals, depending on the patient’s at-home devices. Through audio or audio/video, providers can listen to the patient’s breathing, assess stress levels, and capture vital signs to ensure a complete exam.
For the assessment and patient plan, the proper diagnosis codes, orders, medications, and instructions should be added to the note. This information should then be reviewed with the patient to ensure an understanding of the care plan. Unlike in-person visits, telehealth visits don’t give providers the opportunity to physically hand patients education materials or printed instructions. Instead, providers should direct patients to the patient portal to view the visit summary and other resources.
After ending the telehealth visit, the provider should finish documentation and sign the note.
Follow up afterward and complete telehealth coding and billing.
The day after the appointment, your practice should send the patient a follow-up text message offering contact information for any questions or concerns and a link to a patient survey. The patient can log in to the patient portal to view the visit summary, access patient education resources, pay any balance owed, and communicate with your practice through secure messaging.
Remember that the billing cycle doesn’t change with telehealth visits. Use system functionality to prompt billing staff with reminders. Billing staff should also check for charge edits. For more tips for telehealth billing, read this blog.
Experience the advantages of telehealth
Interested in a long-term telehealth solution for your practice? Coming fall 2020, Greenway Telehealth™ will provide a secure, HIPAA-compliant interface for virtual care — designed with providers and patients in mind. This innovative solution will enable practices to provide care remotely while maintaining business continuity and tapping into additional revenue streams.
To learn more about the first tool in Greenway’s virtual care portfolio, read on.
For more information, CLICK HERE to schedule a conversation with a Greenway representative. Or watch our 3-minute overview video HERE.