While we may not know when and how the COVID-19 pandemic will end, one thing is for certain: it has changed American life forever.
Software giant Bill Gates said as much in a TED Talk earlier this year, predicting that the coronavirus will transform the way we work, live and socialize.
From our perspective as a medical billing service, it’s already changed the way medical practices operate. For example:
1 – Healthcare struggles in the wake of COVID
While hospitals were kept busy by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, they also found themselves struggling.
Healthcare spending declined by 18 percent in the first part of 2020, the largest such drop since the U.S. Department of Commerce began tracking those numbers in 1959.
Restrictions on elective procedures took their toll on the medical world. Roughly 250 hospitals furloughed workers, and some primary care physicians laid off staff or went out of business.
“All over the country, physicians have adapted quickly to try and get their patients the care they need without in-person visits,” writes Erica Evans in the Deseret News.
“In many cases, they haven’t been paid for their work because it’s hard to bill insurance for consultations over the phone. The crisis has caused many medical professionals and other experts to take a careful look at the way the U.S. health care system is set up.”
2 – HIPAA and Telehealth
Telehealth visits used to be fairly rare. In March, the federal government temporarily waived HIPAA requirements for “good faith use” of telehealth during the pandemic. Around the same time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid approved billing for virtual visits.
“Healthcare systems responded by rapidly scaling up telehealth efforts,” writes Matthew Beaverson in HealthTech magazine. “This involved infrastructure adjustments, of course, but it also required training providers and patients to successfully navigate this new virtual terrain, as more than 1 billion telehealth visits are expected to occur by year’s end.”
Shawn Martin, senior vice president for advocacy, practice advancement and policy at the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the Deseret News that relying on technology can help increase efficiency and eliminate needless in-patient visits.
While examinations and other procedures would still have to happen in office, follow-ups, mental health assessments and medication management could employ telehealth.
The same article quotes Wyatt Decker of OptumHealth, who notes that telehealth could be crucial for rural areas without as much access to health resources. With this technology, patients in these communities could access primary and speciality care.
3 – Remote billing and outsourced medical coding
Do you see a future where more and more of your patient interactions happen in a virtual setting? Are you looking for ways to give your staff more time to deal with patients?
The Psych Biller can help. We can handle your medical billing and other administrative needs to keep your employees safe from unnecessary interaction with patients.
And even after the coronavirus crisis ends, our team can continue to provide bull-time medical billing support, cost-effective HIPAA compliance and insurance verification. Contact us today to learn more about our services.