Seeing our patients via telemedicine – Ophthalmic Professional

How to code these services to get paid for them during this emergency.

COVID-19 and the emergency declaration announced by the president in mid-March have led to a number of issues for eye care professionals. These include reduced schedules, loss of income, and the safety of our patients, providers, and fellow staff members.

Your providers will see ocular trauma and emergencies, like angle-closure glaucoma, as usual, and billing will stay the same for these cases. Routine patient visits, though, have been moved into summer. Other patient conditions, wet AMD, for example, are not as emergent, but good medical care means they can’t be delayed more than a week or so. These patients require the usual in-person visit with the doctor, but we might make allowances for social distancing in the reception area. Again, billing and coding are unchanged.

But how should we handle all the other patients? How do we address a patient’s concern when it’s hard to tell whether it is an “urgent” medical condition without seeing the patient?

The answer for how to ensure everyone’s safety while also allowing for proper evaluation for that group may be telemedicine. The term “telemedicine” can mean many things, and payers do not use the term interchangeably with “telehealth.” But don’t fret about the difference in the current COVID-19 era; the rules are considerably relaxed to keep the American population safe.

It is important to know something about telemedicine, including what is possibly billable to insurance, what is not, and how to code it properly.

This article was published in Ophthalmic Professional’s Coding column, and written by Corcoran’s Senior Consultant, Paul Larson, MBA, MMSC, COMT, COE, CPC, CPMA. To view the entire article in Ophthalmic Professional, click on the link below:

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