Telehealth Coding and Billing During COVID-19: Tips and Guidelines

Published by

Nov 3, 2020

Healthcare organizations have turned to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some are not prepared to handle telehealth coding and billing.
Demand for contract medical coding experts is surging. Companies like HMI Corp can help your organization manage complicated COVID-19-related telehealth coding. Our coding experts have proven expertise across the United States.
Today, we’re highlighting some of the best telehealth coding and billing practices for the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, including changes to be aware of.

HHS Relaxes Certain Telehealth Rules During COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HHS has relaxed certain telehealth coding rules. HHS allows providers to offer telehealth services while charging the same amount they would for in-person care.
Whether providing care virtually or on-site, providers can get paid the same amount for patient care because of these new HHS regulations.
Specific services covered under these regulations include:
• Telehealth visits
• Virtual check-ins
• E-visits
These rules are changing regularly.
CMS recently announced that doctors can directly care for patients at rural hospitals, across state lines if necessary, via phone, radio, or online communication, without having to be physically present. They announced similar options for nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, and hospice nurses. These changes affect critical access hospitals (CAHs), federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), rural health clinics (RHCs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and home health agencies and hospices.
You can learn more about the CMS’s COVID-19 emergency declaration blanket waivers for healthcare providers and telehealth services at CMS.gov here.

CMS Releases HCPCS Codes for Telehealth Services

CMS has released a list of HCPCS codes for telehealth services and other virtual patient treatment sessions.
These codes are covered under the Physician Fee Schedule, and they will continue to be covered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can view the full list here.

AMA Releases Guidance on Telehealth Billing and CPT Codes

AMA has released information on telehealth billing and CPT codes, including telehealth visits, online digital visits, remote patient monitoring, and similar telehealth services.
AMA’s guideline was updated on May 22 and covers the implementation of telehealth in response to COVID-19, including how to code telehealth services.
The goal of the guideline is to help providers implement telemedicine and remote care services while ensuring uninterrupted care for 100 million Americans with chronic conditions.
Items covered by AMA guidelines include:
• Store and forward technologies that collect images and data for transmission and interpretation at a later date
• Real-time, audio-video communication tools that connect physicians and patients
• Remote patient monitoring tools like blood pressure monitors, wearables, Bluetooth devices, and other devices that collect biometric data for review (including mHealth apps).
• Verbal/audio-only and virtual check-ins via patient portals, messaging platforms, etc.

Using Telehealth Services for Triage

Hospitals are now using telehealth services to triage patients whenever possible, according to a recent report from the Office of the Inspector at HHS.
As demand for elective and non-urgent services declines, ambulatory organizations are following similar guidelines.
That means demand for telehealth services continues to grow – and the demand for effective telehealth coding guidelines is increasing with it.

Other Tips for COVID-19 Telehealth Coding and Billing

COVID-19 has left organizations scrambling. Some are struggling to effectively code for telehealth services. Others are struggling with COVID-19 coding.
Whatever your coding issue may be, these tips can help:
Stay up-to-date. The AMA, CDC, and CMS are releasing new guidelines regularly, and the COVID-19 pandemic is changing weekly. Spend extra time checking information from all relevant providers to help your organization stay up-to-date.
Spend extra time verifying EHRs to ensure accuracy and compliance. This is always a good tip, but it’s particularly important during an uncertain situation when coding errors are rampant.
Consider hiring contract medical coding experts for assistance. Contract medical coding experts are a guaranteed way to solve inefficiencies and reduce errors. They’re experts at medical coding, and that expertise is invaluable during a time like this.

HMI Corp’s Contract Medical Coding Experts Can Help

HMI Corp has contract medical coding experts standing by to solve medical coding issues for your healthcare organization.
Whether struggling with telehealth coding or COVID-19 coding, your organization cannot risk inaccurate or ineffective coding.
Our US-Based contract medical coding specialists are credentialed by AHIMA and/or AAPC. They have firsthand experience in Inpatient/MS-DRG, Outpatient Surgery, Physician E/M, Emergency Department E/M, Interventional Radiology, Ambulatory Surgery, GI/Endoscopy, and other fields of care. They can work with TruCode, Meditech, VISTA, 3M, McKesson, Cerner, Epic, and CHCS/CHCSII.
Contact HMI Corp for effective contract medical coding for your organization. Whether dealing with telehealth coding issues with COVID-19 or general medical codinginefficiencies, we can help.


Articles authored by HMI Corporation