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Telehealth physical therapy software | The genie is out of the bottle

Telehealth physical therapy software

Telehealth adoption in physical therapy saw a huge boost during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, reportedly, just 2% of physical therapy practices were offering telehealth, a number that shot up to 47% mid 2020. However, telehealth obviously has its limitations when it comes to physical therapy, which needs in-person care. On the flip side, when we look at increasing adherence with the broader plan of care and at-home rehabilitation, telehealth does come out as a strong option.

It can be safe to assume that the momentum that telehealth in physical therapy acquired in 2020 will not fade away after the end of the public health emergency. Telehealth is likely here to stay.

When you consider telehealth implementation, the telehealth platform and EMR clearly play a critical role. Ideally, both telehealth and EMR should be in a single, integrated software that enables you to schedule, conduct, document, and bill telehealth appointments.

The idea would be to make telehealth as simple as schedule, invite, and treat. Invite the patient to the telehealth session, conduct and document the session, and bill for it. Rules are set at the payer level to make sure that charges are being generated with the appropriate modifiers and codes.

Making the Telehealth Session Happen

Let us dive a bit deeper to see how this would play out.

The setup

Telehealth would be built into your EMR through an easy-to-use workflow sequence. There are some things to be configured at the system backend before the solution can be utilized.

  • The facility would need to be setup with the correct time zone.
  • Messaging templates would need to be in place for driving the automated invitation system for telehealth appointments through the appointment reminder service.
  • As always, we would also need a manual override option for directly sending invitations.
  • Separate customizable invitation templates would be in place for telehealth email and telehealth SMS.
  • The templates would utilize tokens like the Telehealth URL, the link for patients to click on, toward ensuring a fuller experience.

Scheduling the meeting

Over to the scheduler and date of service, scheduling a telehealth appointment would follow the exact same sequence as a regular appointment. Except that there would be an additional setting that would mark it as telehealth. The virtual meeting room would have a timer on it that would prevent participants from joining the meeting too soon or after it is over.

Starting the meeting

  • Inside the meeting interface would be a join meeting link that would enable the therapist to start the telehealth session.
  • The therapist could also choose to join the meeting from inside the clinical documentation by opening the SOAP notes or the flowsheet.
  • Within the documentation menu, there would be an additional join meeting link.
  • Clicking on it would take the therapist into the meeting as the provider and telehealth meeting host.
Telehealth physical therapy software

All the advantages of a typical web-based interface would kick in. It would be possible to document the telehealth meeting on one web tab or screen and conduct the video meeting on another, making it easier to multi-task. When logging in, the system would present the meeting id, which would be the unique identifier for the appointment and patient.

Once inside the telehealth meeting, the therapist could resend the invitation to the patient either as an SMS or as an email invitation. Via the invitation, the patient would also get a join meeting link. After the meeting starts, the timer would get triggered and all information would get stored in the softwares database. The EMR would be documenting the meeting and generating charges at the same time.

Following payer rules

Every payer does have different rules and billing guidance for telehealth charges. It would be possible to control how certain codes would be presented on the claim form through the insurance settings interface. All telehealth billing settings would apply if billing is for the appointment or date of service marked as telehealth. Payers have requested a new place of service code, generally O2, along with specific modifiers that could be GT, 95, or CR modifiers.

When navigating to the telehealth documentation for the day and generating charges, from the flowsheet or from SOAP notes, payer-specific settings would automatically show up so that charges are being generated with the appropriate modifiers and codes.

End of the day, the telehealth physical therapy software would make the entire telehealth sequence seamless for the therapist and the patient. This would be crucial given that we can only expect telehealth appointments to go up. The genie is out of the bottle and the technology would need to enable successful sessions that deliver clinical and financial outcomes.