The process of billing can be a great hassle for providers, and risky business. Often telehealth providers do not know how to correctly bill for their services and sometimes create legal and ethical issues by billing incorrectly. Debbie Duran the owner of Mental Health Billing & Consulting in Louisiana shares from her 28+ years of experience billing for mental health providers.
Telehealth services help to ensure that patients are able to receive the care they need when they need it. Same day care is available from providers using services such as virtual visits or video visits. By minimizing travel time, extending availability and increasing flexibility, caregivers can offer more opportunities for providing much-needed healthcare services.
Virtual counselors provide an array of online therapy options that include couples counseling, online marriage counseling, and online Christian counseling, to name just a few. Online therapists use a variety of mediums to communicate and "meet" with clients, providing the same standard of care as a traditional practice.
In January, 2019 the International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth published an article by Nathaniel Lacktman, Esq. and Dr. Neil Nerwich entitled, “Teleconsultation Services for the Mobile Workforce- Considerations and Guidelines for the Provision of Global Services in Compliance with Regulations and Best Practice Clinical Standards of Care.” The International Society for Telemedicine & EHealth (ISfTeH), founded in 2011, is a “nongovernmental and not-for-profit society that services primarily as the umbrella association for national Telemedicine and eHealth organizations,” advising on international standards and best practices for telemedicine.
Ray Barrett of Telehealth Certification Institute, LLC recently appeared as a guest on the Mental Health News Radio Network podcast with Kristin Sunanta Walker to discuss the various aspects of telemental health services and the changes that have occurred over the years.
Modern technology provides an exciting opportunity for behavioral health professionals to deliver clinical services virtually, allowing many providers to significantly expand their client base and work remotely. Though many behavioral health professionals have always utilized technology for providing clinical services, more and more are accessing this option as the demand for telehealth has grown. But, clinicians often jump into providing clinical services through the use of technology without FIRST assessing their level of competence and receiving the training to ensure legal and professional compliance.
As of December 2018, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has adopted an official ruling that text messages will be considered an informational service (such as emails) versus a telecommunication service (such as telephone calls). Click here for the ruling. This distinction is highly relevant, as communications classified as “telecommunication services” must be transmitted by cellular carriers and are not permitted to be blocked or altered whereas informational services can be.
As text messaging has grown in popularity over the last decade, texts have carried an ambiguous status; this ambiguity has allowed cellular carriers to make independent decisions regarding transmission, with many carriers defaulting to handle texts as informational services. For the December ruling, the FCC took into consideration that cellular providers have already been filtering text messages (in an effort to minimize spam) and that allowing all texts to go through could burden consumers.
The Office of Mental Health is currently paying for all initial certification fees for eligible candidates to earn their New York Certified Peer Specialist (NYCPS) certification.
Peer specialists help others in recovery with a mental health condition or major life disruption. In order to earn the NYCPS one must complete a free training, agree to the NYPSCB Code of Ethical Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures, complete at least 2000 hours of peer specialist experience under supervision, submit three references and apply for the certification. Peer Specialists are individuals who are themselves in recovery from a mental health condition or major life disruption and have shown to provide support to others in their recovery process.
One Million Telehealth Visits in 2018! The VA continues to expand its utilization of telehealth. 2018’s numbers are 19% higher than last years.
This number is bound to greatly increase. The new Authority of Health Care Providers to Practice Telehealth rule, published in the Federal Register on October 2nd, 2017, allows for the VA to provide telehealth services directly to veterans’ homes across the country. In addition, the VA launched its new mobile VA Video Connect application, making video sessions easier for veterans. I suspect these recent developments have only begun to show a footprint. Only 105,300 of the million + video visits were conducted using the new mobile application.
I have briefly addressed the topic of Digital Therapeutics in a previous blog entry that focused on ADHD and Esteem Therapeutics.
New to this term? "Digital Therapeutics" is an emerging form of technology in healthcare that combines software programs, devices, and various interventions to generate an umbrella of caregiving that covers all the parties involved in treatment. Technological aspects are used in conjunction with other forms of "traditional" treatment such as therapy or medication. Patients and caregivers collaborate and are kept in sync with updated information that is readily available to all in order to optimize patient outcomes.
Digital therapeutics addresses a wide range of conditions and provides a myriad of high-quality options for personalized patient care. Digital therapeutics forms an independent category of a broader healthcare program and is distinct from diagnostic and telehealth products. Implementing a program will involve a network of therapy options in which each component of care reinforces and supports the other.
In Opinion 19-02, the Office of Inspector General declares its support o allowing drug manufacturers to temporary loan smartphones to low-income patients who are prescribed antipsychotic digital medications. A sensor is embedded in the medication, and once taken, transmits a signal to a patch worn by the patient. The patch records ingestion of medication, rest and activity levels, and uploads the data to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. The patient has the ability to add more detailed information (moods, sleep quality) to the app, and then the app syncs with secure, cloud-based data banks.
Alison Bowles, LMHC shares from her experience as an online counselor treating couples and those struggling with anxiety and depression.