Since March 2020, the world of therapy has looked quite different than normal out of pure necessity. Many providers began offering TeleHealth sessions as an option, and you may have been one of them.
While it may have seemed like the swift move to offering therapy remotely was a short-term reaction to the Covid pandemic, we are seeing some indications that this may foreshadow TeleHealth as an enduring modality. Our business interactions with speech, occupational, physical, and behavioral therapists over the past few months support the idea that this transition to TeleHealth could be here to stay.
There are several emerging trends that may make remote delivery of treatments the new normal in the therapy industry:
- The strain on the economy overall means that for those patients whose therapy is supplemental, changes in financial resources or job schedules could limit their ability to show up regularly to in-person appointments.
- For pediatric patients, parents are finding out just how convenient it is to have their children treated at home. It cuts down on time, driving costs, and overall hassle. If it is the same cost as an office visit, there is a good chance many parents will choose the remote option.
- This transition makes more sense for some providers, depending on the size and setup of each clinic. It may reduce overhead and staffing costs.
These components do not necessarily mean you should plan on offering TeleHealth on a large scale or indefinitely, or that it is going to be viable for your clinic to do so from a business standpoint.
What is going to ultimately determine whether some therapy modalities transition online for good? You can probably guess the biggest factor: Medicare, Medicaid, and even private payers would have to continue to reimburse at the current rates for virtual therapy sessions. Furthermore, if Medicare and Medicaid cut payments to a lesser amount, it is difficult to predict patients’ willingness or ability to transition to self pay or a larger co-pay amount. This will likely vary based on a number of things, not the least of which is the state of the economy and the average individual’s cash reserves.
We think it’s critical for clinic owners like you to plan for this reality on a more permanent basis, even if it does not in fact play out that way. Just as our EMR is set up for you to document and plan for all possibilities, TheraPlan supports thinking ahead and we’d rather have you be safe than sorry, especially if times are hard.
What should you therefore consider right now to prep for this potentiality? Here are a few insider tips:
- Ensure that you are using a HIPAA-compliant platform for teletherapy sessions and get a signed BAA with whichever company whose software you’re using. Read more about this in our last blog.
- Streamline all administrative processes as much as possible, especially those that require frequent communication with insurance companies. With all the delays that have arisen of late, this is even more essential. Now is a great time to begin working with a credentialing service like Clinic Connection and an experienced therapy billing agency like EEP. Make efficiency your top priority!
- If you have not already, consider moving to a web-based EMR like TheraPlan, which makes patient charts and documentation easily accessible for all your therapists, from anywhere. Our application will soon have an integrated TeleHealth platform, which pairs the scheduler and text messaging system and eliminates the need for multiple systems to maintain. Stay tuned for this release!
With all the changes that could be upcoming, now is the perfect time to get your clinic’s records organized. We highly recommend electronic records if you’re looking to keep up with the industry and have the best chance of surviving massive changes like what we’ve seen happen already this year.
We’re here to help. Schedule a demo of TheraPlan at your convenience and let’s get your clinic ready to weather anything!