“Can you hear me now? Good.” Much like the glasses-sporting world traveler in this Verizon commercial, telehealth services aim to ensure patients are heard—whether they’re in the clinic or at home. Telehealth is a fairly new concept, so you might be wondering what services it actually encompasses. According to HealthIT.gov, “The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”

If you ask me, that’s an extremely broad definition—one that allows providers and patients an unprecedented amount of flexibility for treatment and patient communication. Beyond flexibility, the expansion of telehealth adoption also offers a solution to the rapidly growing demand for efficient and effective healthcare delivery (a demand made clear with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act). Thanks to telehealth, patients no longer have to travel to their care providers’ physical offices to get the health services they need—at least not every time they have an ache, pain, or cough. In many cases, patients can seek treatment where they are most comfortable—at home. Furthermore, electronic communication can make care coordination, assessments, and referrals easier to handle.

PT Billing Secrets: 5 Things Payers Don’t Want You to Know - Regular BannerPT Billing Secrets: 5 Things Payers Don’t Want You to Know - Small Banner

Blasting into the Future of Telehealth

Whether you’re on board with telehealth—or not—its expansion shows no signs of slowing. In fact, forecasts project that adoption will only increase: “The number of patients using telehealth services will rise to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013,” explained this IHS article. And therapists definitely won’t want to miss out on that opportunity. Just imagine being able to fit more appointments into your busy schedule using video conferencing and other digital communication methods. Such technologies allow providers to give their patients instant feedback without time-consuming office visits. Furthermore, thanks to the Internet, patients in rural areas finally have access to the same quality health care residents in more urban areas enjoy.

The future for telehealth is bright, but for therapists, the telehealth payment situation isn’t all that shiny—not right now, at least. Currently, Medicare reimburses providers in other specialties for certain telehealth CPT codes. However, physical therapy has yet to be mentioned in federal legislation regarding telehealth services reimbursement. If therapists don’t get involved in the shaping of this legislation—and soon—the entire industry risks getting left behind.

Keeping up with Compliance

Assuming that therapists eventually get the telehealth green light, they—and all other providers—must constantly be aware of the HIPAA implications associated with this medium of care delivery. And when it comes to telehealth compliance, things aren’t so cut-and-dried. Earlier this year, WebPT’s COO and founder, Dr. Heidi Jannenga—and some other awesome WebPT employees—had the opportunity to get in on the telehealth compliance conversation when they attended the eighth annual Graham Sessions. The sessions were abuzz with talk of telehealth and the future of tech in PT. This WebPT Blog post highlights why the industry needs to be aware of the complexities of telehealth as they relate to PT: “Obviously, not all tech tools available to consumers have the HIPAA seal of approval, so providers have to be careful about the products they use. But participating in a model of online health care delivery—also known as telehealth—gets especially tricky when practitioners provide those services in a virtual setting (i.e., outside of the clinic).” Furthermore, the APTA cautions that telehealth requires research prior to implementation within your clinic: “You'll first need to consider federal and state legislation and regulations that govern your practice, risk management implications, billing and coding issues, and hardware/software requirements.” With all that being said, staying compliant with telehealth isn’t impossible; providers just need to take extra caution as they map out their service offerings.

Wrestling with the Regulations

HIPAA compliance is just one legal aspect of providing telehealth services that providers need to consider—especially in the rehab therapy space. Current law prohibits a PT from treating patients who reside outside of the state in which the therapist is licensed, which essentially prevents PTs from practicing across state lines—even in a virtual environment. Aside from that, there’s not a ton of regulation regarding telehealth, especially when it comes to PT. But with these services becoming more and more prevalent, it’s crucial that therapy providers take action to shape new legislation in the PT industry’s favor.


Telehealth services open new doors to more efficient and effective care delivery. And with all of these new opportunities, it’s imperative that providers keep HIPAA regulations and legislative policy top of mind. Are you considering implementing telehealth services in your clinic? How about now? Good. Have questions? You’re in luck, because like Verizon, “We never stop working for you.” Ask away in the comments section below.

Interested in adding telehealth and wellness services to your practice?

Download our free guide to learn how.

Please enable JavaScript to submit form.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017 Image

    webinarJan 5, 2017

    Cloudy with a Chance of Reform: 5 Key Healthcare Forecasts for 2017

    Predicting the weather is tough—just ask any meteorologist who has called for sun on the day of a major downpour. Well, predicting the fate of the US healthcare system isn’t much easier—there’s a lot up in the air, after all. But, even without a healthcare equivalent of Doppler Radar, there are a few key trends that are sure to have a major impact on PTs, OTs, and SLPs in 2017 and beyond. And to keep your practice …

  • 5 Things PTs Need to Know About Telehealth in 2016 Image

    articleJan 5, 2016 | 4 min. read

    5 Things PTs Need to Know About Telehealth in 2016

    In 2015, lawmakers at both the federal and state levels recognized—and took action to alleviate—the lack of readily available and affordable healthcare options: namely, through legislation that opened the door for telehealth expansion. In fact, this Medscape article reveals that in the last year alone, “200 bills addressing telehealth were introduced in 42 states.” That’s a lot of legislative legwork. And while we can’t shrink and teleport healthcare providers through a television— Willy Wonka-style —quite yet, the …

  • Common Questions from our Cloudy with a Chance of Reform Webinar Image

    articleFeb 13, 2017 | 13 min. read

    Common Questions from our Cloudy with a Chance of Reform Webinar

    In our first webinar of 2017 , WebPT’s co-founder and president, Heidi Jannenga, teamed up with CEO Nancy Ham to discuss the current and future healthcare trends that will impact PTs, OTs, and SLPs. (Missed it? No worries; you can view the complete recording here .) As always, we received quite a few questions during the presentation—way more than we could address live. So, we’ve put them all here, in one handy Q&A doc. Scroll through and …

  • webinarAug 27, 2013

    Innovation in Rehab Therapy

    In August, we hosted a webinar focused on innovation in rehab therapy. This session covered all the ways our industrypushes the limits, evolves, and embraces different ways of thinking, including: New technologically-improved treatment methods Unique therapy business structures Refreshing marketing techniques Cutting-edge therapy products

  • Future-Proofing Your Practice: Diversifying Revenue Streams Image

    downloadJan 7, 2016

    Future-Proofing Your Practice: Diversifying Revenue Streams

    What does it take to future-proof your practice? In this guide, we’ll talk about how you can incorporate health and wellness services to diversify your practice’s revenue streams and boost your bottom line. Ready to prepare your practice for the age of payment reform? Enter your email address below to download Future-Proofing Your Practice, Volume 3.

  • articleJul 24, 2012 | 4 min. read

    Patient Portals Improve Provider-Patient Relationship

    As an amazing health care provider, of course you want the best relationship with every one of your patients. But as a solid business owner, you also want to maximize your profits and reduce your overhead. Often these goals conflict. The good news is they don’t have to. Have your cake and eat it, too. Or in this case, cultivate an excellent provider-patient relationship and streamline your practice’s processes—with the help of a patient portal. What is …

  • The EMR Software Comparison Workbook for Outpatient Rehab Therapy Image

    downloadAug 10, 2017

    The EMR Software Comparison Workbook for Outpatient Rehab Therapy

    Selecting an EMR for your outpatient rehab therapy clinic can be challenging, especially because not everything on the market is going to meet your needs. That’s why we’ve created this workbook—to help you compare your top three prospective EMRs across every feature, tool, and product necessary to ensure defensible documentation, optimal billing, and successful practice management. If a potential software system doesn’t have one of these line items, you can—and should—do better. Download the EMR Software Comparison …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019 Image

    webinarJun 3, 2019

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2019

    Most clinics keep the details of their finances close to the vest—and their productivity stats under lock and key. As a result, it can be hard to figure out how your clinic stacks up to the rest—or even get a feel for what’s going on at the industry level. So, if you’re hungry for insider knowledge about the PT, OT, and SLP spaces, then get ready to eat your chart out! We have a banquet of data-rich …

  • What Physical Therapy Management Software Approach is Right For You? Image

    articleJul 21, 2017 | 4 min. read

    What Physical Therapy Management Software Approach is Right For You?

    Most of us have lists of tasks and to-dos—you know, the things necessary to keep our professional lives moving in the right direction. While these activities might vary from day to day, the nature of needing to get them done does not. But, there are so many different ways to go about accomplishing your to-dos. For example, if you’re running a physical therapy practice, your overarching tasks may include: tracking outcomes data, completing defensible documentation, scheduling patients, …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.