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Optimizing your telehealth services during COVID-19 and beyond

Video - April 22, 2020

Patient Access

Patient Care Technology

Practice Efficiency

MGMA Staff Members

Click 'play' above to watch a video of an April 21 presentation, moderated by Anders Gilberg, MGA, senior vice president, MGMA Government Affairs, with members from MGMA and AMGA sharing their stories about embracing and optimizing telehealth solutions to minimize their business impacts during the coronavirus pandemic.

The push to expand telehealth services in medical practices nationwide, following new flexibilities provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in March, was nothing short of a digital gold rush.

A majority (97%) of practice leaders reported expanding telehealth access amid the COVID-19 pandemic, per a March 31 MGMA Stat poll, and that rapid expansion has been a boon for telehealth startups: Digital health companies reported closing significant rounds of funding in recent weeks, per Inc. magazine.

Arielle Trzcinski, a senior healthcare industry analyst for Forrester, told Inc. that the COVID-19 pandemic has “forever changed” care delivery in the United States by removing barriers to telehealth adoption, such as awareness. “We’ll continue to see a dramatic shift toward a virtual-first delivery model.”

For medical practice leaders that now have a few weeks or months or telehealth services under their belts, it’s important to understand how to get the most out of this new model of care in terms of scheduling, quality of care and reimbursement.

Telehealth success stories

  • Despite limited resources and being in a rural area of the county, Shasta Cascade Health Centers of Northern California used existing work to build out a telehealth program to also ramp up an eConsults program to help handle patient care during the state’s stay-at-home order, as chronicled by Miku Sodhi, MBBS (MD), MHA, PCMH-CCE, FACMPE, deputy chief executive officer, Shasta Cascade Health Centers.
  • Google recently updated Google My Business/Google Maps to help display virtual care options for healthcare providers on a local, regional and national level. Additionally, Google My Business has information about updating an online business profile about updated hours of operation, information of temporary closure (if applicable) and extra services provided.
  • By properly scaling up a Virtual Urgent Care program, Paul Testa, MD, chief medical information officer of NYU Langone Health, noted that connecting patients with providers via phone or tablet has allowed the program to experience a “probably 10-fold increase in volume” in March, per The American Journal of Managed Care.
  • Hybrid visits — in which a patient comes in for testing and results are discussed via telehealth or over the phone — are one means for ophthalmologists to adjust care delivery models during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Sonal Tuli, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), per The American Journal of Managed Care.
  • A recent $1.8-million EHR go-live was completed just as United Community & Family Services in Norwich, Conn., began to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. CEO Jennifer Ganger spoke to Becker’s Hospital Review about how they used Zoom and outside of their EHR system as a stopgap measure as their optimized Epic for managing telehealth visits.

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