While family practice medical billing services are available to help primary care providers manage their revenue cycle, technology has vastly improved the way these practitioners manage their patients. Telemedicine and virtual visits are improving primary care outcomes. According to a recent report in Social Justice Solutions, the popularity of telemedicine is growing rapidly due to the availability of faster internet connections and the use of smartphones and tablets.
Healthcare needs have changed rapidly over the years. Today, telemedicine enables expert nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants to reach patients virtually. Medical Economics reports that this has enhanced primary care services and outcomes. Many facilities are looking to expand their remote monitoring services for patients. For instance, according to the report, the Virtual Clinic Core of Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin is on the lookout for more physician extenders to be able to meet primary care patients in their homes and assisted living.
Telehealth enhances primary care in many ways:
- It allows physician extenders in mobile monitoring of patients who have chronic but stable conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Special devices and advanced software promote mobile health monitoring by enabling patients to input their parameters like blood sugars and blood pressure.
- It allows better care for patients with reduced mobility such as nursing home and assisted living patients, as well as patients who are incarcerated. After doing blood tests or checking blood pressure in the nursing home, the patient can have a virtual visit.
- Patients with challenging illness can be better managed by simply wheeling the telemedicine cart into their room.
- Virtual patient visits save transportation costs and gives primary care physicians greater flexibility and more time to see other patients.
- When the data is electronically submitted, the nurse or physician’s assistant can recognize a health problem immediately and ensure timely, appropriate care.
- Virtual visits can be a big help for elderly patients who do not get the care they need because they can’t drive and don’t have adequate family support.
- Telehealth during office visits can be used to connect patients with other specialty providers.
- The virtual visit is a good option for behavior health where 50% of patients shy away from having recommended therapy.
However, telemedicine would not be the right option in all situations. For example, an emergency or the need for more in-depth diagnosis would warrant a physical office visit. Therefore, providers should have proper protocols in place when implementing a telehealth program for physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners.
Our medical billing company recently reported on the American Medical Association’s approval of a new telemedicine policy, which in turn, will ensure appropriate reimbursement for telemedicine services. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have telehealth parity laws, which permit insurance reimbursement, with rules varying by state for nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.