In these tumultuous times, it is of the utmost importance that we prioritize the safety of our fellow healthcare workers and patients. That is why many providers are seriously considering changing their business model and reallocating resources to telehealth—especially considering that CMS is beginning to reimburse PTs and OTs for certain telehealth services.
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The pandemic isn’t over, but many rehab therapy clinics are starting to resume operations. Yet, things aren’t—and can’t be—the same as they were before (at least not for the time being), which means in order to move into this next phase, clear communication is paramount.
The coronavirus pandemic was a catalyst for a new wave of regulatory changes that expanded the rehab therapist toolbox almost overnight. Most recently, CMS made telehealth more widely accessible to rehab therapy providers. (Hallelujah!) While the industry has been fighting for this privilege for years, the swift change cast many providers into the uncharted waters of remote care with very little time to prepare.
For those who have no experience with hearing and speech deficits, it’s hard to grasp just how lonely life can be for those who do. Add to that the self-quarantine and social distancing measures implemented in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and it’s a recipe for an incredibly isolating experience.
“New normal.” It’s a phrase we’re hearing more and more as the US begins to open up and resume operations—at least partially. This tentative move toward some sense of normalcy means many of us will face significant change in the weeks ahead.
COVID-19 has created the perfect witch’s brew of intense stress. People across the country are concerned about the health of themselves and their families; job security is shaky (and household incomes are dropping); and basic necessities like food staples and hygiene supplies are still—even after two months—difficult to find.
It feels like the entire country has been in a state of hibernation for the past two months. As new instances of the novel coronavirus begin to decrease and an end to stay-at-home orders appears within our sight, people are itching to emerge from their caves and embrace the warmer weather.
Some states—such as Louisiana and Ohio—had already authorized telehealth as a mode of service delivery for physical therapists. A few state Medicaid programs, such as Minnesota, reimbursed for OT and SLP telehealth services. Of course, Medicare did not authorize rehabilitation providers to deliver services virtually
Last week, CMS announced that PTs—along with OTs and SLPs—are eligible to provide telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries for the duration of this emergency, which is huge. Rehab therapists have been advocating hard for this move since well before the pandemic struck, and now that this change is on the books,