Practice settings

It’s expected that healthcare providers will ordinarily conduct telehealth in private settings, such as a doctor in a clinic or office connecting to a patient who is at home or another clinic. Providers should always use private locations, and patients should not receive telehealth services in public or semi-public settings, absent patient consent or exigent …

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Telehealth resources

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) is a reputable authority on telehealth and a national resource.  It has webinars and an annual conference. The Northwest Regional Telehealth Resource Center (NRTRC) is sponsored by the U.S. Government and recognized as a reliable resource for Washington State, ( Other resources include the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law …

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Telehealth documentation

Because you saw the patient remotely and you will be billing for a remote encounter, you need to identify the visit as such. You may do this by using a simple phrase at the end of your documentation. The following is an example of what could be included in a telehealth visit note: “This exam …

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Getting consent

Just as patients consent to be seen and treated in the traditional healthcare delivery settings, patients should consent before being seen via telehealth.  It is not always necessary to have a special signed document just for a telehealth visit.  However, it is best practice for informed consent for telehealth to include:   reasonable understanding by all parties …

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Technology requirements

It is essential to have a secure, encrypted video teleconferencing service that allows for private conversations that meet HITECH and HIPAA standards.  You will also need a stable internet connection which allows for the transmission of audio and video. In addition to the technology, providers must follow established standards for conducting telehealth visits, as detailed by …

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Benefits for users

The quality of telemedicine as a method of healthcare delivery is confirmed by decades of research and demonstrations. Telemedicine is a safe, cost-effective, and convenient way to provide healthcare services. There are three main beneficiaries of telemedicine:  Patients: Telemedicine allows patients to receive care without a trip to the doctor’s office. They don’t have to …

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Insurance requirements

Commercial payers:  Many insurers voluntarily pay for telemedicine visits and 26 states have laws requiring them to do so. The laws vary, so it makes sense to learn more about the rules in the state where you live or practice.  Medicare:  Medicare does cover telemedicine in certain circumstances and with several limitations. Some telehealth services including remote …

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In-person requirements

This is determined on a state-by-state basis. For example, in California and many other states, the doctor/patient relationship does not need to be established in-person. However, a prior in-person visit is a requirement in Texas. 

Telehealth vs. Telemedicine

The terms telemedicine and telehealth are often used as if they were the same thing, but technically telemedicine is a subset of telehealth. Telehealth also includes non-clinical uses of telecommunications technology such as self-monitoring, provider and patient education, and medical records management. 

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the practice of providing clinical care to patients at a distance using telecommunications technology. In other words, it is a method of treating patients using the internet and telephone. This can take the form of real-time video visits, secure email, or remotely monitoring a patient’s vital signs. 

What is telehealth?

Telehealth is the delivery of health care services and clinical information to patients and providers using audio-video conferencing technology. This includes a wide array of clinical services using the internet, wireless, satellite, and telephone.  What is the distinction between telemedicine and telehealth? Strictly speaking, telemedicine is focused on clinical aspects of care, whereas telehealth is a …

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Provide a demonstration

Most people are immediately more comfortable with something new once they can visualize the process and know what to expect. The same goes for telehealth. When patients can visualize how a telehealth visit with you will work, they’re more likely to try it. Remember this as you’re sharing the news about your virtual care program. On …

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Engage patients in person

You don’t just have to wait for patients to ask questions about telehealth. You should also actively start conversations. Briefly bring up virtual appointments at the end of patient visits as you hand them some materials with more information. Consider hosting a “telehealth open-house” at your practice, where you do a demo virtual visit for …

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Open dialogue

When you introduce your telehealth program, always encourage a dialogue with your patients. This can mean starting a conversation about it in-office, maybe at the end of their appointment as you hand them a brochure about it. You could have staff wear buttons that say “ask me about scheduling virtual appointments,” or include a sign …

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Marketing materials

It’s always a good idea to have something tangible to give to patients about your telehealth program. Whether that’s a professionally designed brochure or a simple one-sheet print-out with basic information, it can be used to start a conversation about virtual care, serve as the patient’s “reference guide” as they’re doing their first telehealth appointment, or …

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Benefits for patients

We included this point first for a reason—it’s probably the most important thing to remember! Always focus on what the benefits of telehealth are for your patients. Think about it from the patient’s perspective. If you’re now offering same-day virtual appointments for urgent issues, that allows patients to get quick care, skip travel to your office, …

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