Three months ago, if you had asked me, “What is the application for telehealth in physical therapy?” I would have answered, “Very limited.” Up until then, I believed that for patients with no other options—like those in the remotest parts of the country—telehealth might be useful. But otherwise, not so much. Physical therapy is by definition physical. For it to be effective, the provider must be physically with the patient. Or so I thought.
We’ve talked at length about nearly every aspect of telehealth as it relates to physical therapy: its advantages, its shortcomings, how to bill for it, how to launch and market it—the list goes on. However, there’s one angle we’ve yet to cover, and it’s perhaps the most important when it comes to the future of telehealth in rehab: the case for telehealth’s continued use and coverage in PT.
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.
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
These are unprecedented times—and the rapidly changing healthcare landscape is leaving many rehab therapists feeling lost, adrift, and concerned about their future. That’s why earlier this week, our in-house experts, Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC, WebPT Chief Clinical Officer and Co-Founder, John Wallace, PT, MS, WebPT Chief Business Development Officer of Revenue Cycle Management, and Veda Collmer, WebPT
In this Q&A, Jaclyn Fulop, MSPT, the owner of Exchange Physical Therapy Group, explains how her practice responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by implementing a telehealth model. Interested in adopting telehealth in your own organization? Be sure to review this comprehensive blog post on leveraging and billing for telehealth in rehab therapy, this FAQ on Medicare’s new e-visit opportunities for rehab therapists, and this free webinar on telehealth and business continuity in the rehab industry. And to keep following what the team at Exchange PT is up to, be sure to check ’em out on Instagram.
As the reality of pandemic sets in, industries across the country are experiencing a significant dropoff in business—and private practice rehab therapy is no different. Many therapy business owners have reached out to us for recommendations on how to address this, with several requesting information on the telehealth opportunities specifically available to them and their patients.
For many of us, the past couple of weeks have been surreal—almost dystopian. We have gone from living our lives as normal—observing the freedoms and routines most of us take for granted—to considering every potential action and activity through a new, exceptionally cautious lens.
Some things are just better together, like peanut butter and jelly or milk and cookies. And for Medicare patients with other health insurance providers, few things are better than when Medicare and their private payers work together cooperatively.
Congratulations on your practice’s new addition! Bringing on a new PT can be a lot of work, but it’s also highly rewarding. There’s a lot to consider when you make such a big decision, and if you don’t cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s, the road ahead is certain to be bumpy.
Physical therapy billing is complicated enough. When you throw Medicare into the mix, it becomes an even bigger headache. But when you consider the fact that, as of 2015, more than 55 million Americans receive Medicare coverage, every physical therapist is bound to contend with Medicare rules at some point.