With the Federal State of Emergency set to end in May 2023, lawmakers are scrambling to find extensions or transition options for a wide range of mental health and medical services. Not the least of which is making allowances for telehealth services, which can have a major impact on ABA therapy providers as well as the patients who rely on their care.
One of the current proposed bills HB4040 features several telehealth provisions and would extend them all the way to December 31st of 2024. This includes things like:
Remote Access to Telehealth Services
Allowing beneficiaries to continue to receive telehealth services at any site, regardless of type or location. This can include a patient’s own home, rather than requiring the services in a clinical setting.
Access to Multiple Specialists
The proposed bill HB4040 extends beyond ABA therapists to also include occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists who can continue to furnish telehealth services to their patients.
For patients with autism spectrum disorder, this makes it possible for their entire support team to be able to consistently provide them with care. This can be a major boon for ASD patients who live in remote areas or those who do better in the familiar comfort of their own home while being distracted in a clinical setting.
Rural & Remote Access to Care
Under bill HB4040 all federally qualified health centers as well as rural health clinics will be able to continue to serve patients. This is a major boon for individuals who live in rural or remote areas and need access to ABA therapy services and other health care practitioners.
Remote Evaluation & Diagnostics
One of the most important provisions in the proposed bill HB4040 is giving providers the ability to perform remote evaluations as well as management and behavioral health services via audio-only technology.
Telehealth Recertification for Specialty Care & Hospice Services
Bill HB4040 also includes provisions for telehealth certification for hospice physicians and nurse practitioners to continue to complete specific requirements relating to patient recertifications. This would ensure that patients in remote areas could maintain seamless, uninterrupted coverage even when the original term for their certification ends, and they need to be recertified.
The Benefits of ABA Telehealth Services
A lot of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder are more comfortable in their home setting. Many times, bringing them into a clinical setting for something as simple as recertification or reevaluation is unnecessary. For some, this dramatic change can cause undue stress, causing the patient to withdraw, which can impede the evaluation process itself.
Many times these evaluations and recertifications can be handled via telehealth communication technology. Working in tandem with the patient’s family, caregivers, and other support systems ABA therapists can get a more accurate picture of how the patient is progressing.
The Time Savings of Telehealth Services
Telehealth services also help ABA therapists to save time. This might be a reduction in having to reserve clinical space. Though it can also reduce travel time for patients who need to be seen in their own homes.
ABA therapists providing in-home services to patients in rural and remote areas often spend a lot of time driving to see their patients. This can eat into the available time they have to treat other patients.
By maintaining consistent access to telehealth services, ABA therapists can provide their patients with the same high level of care that they have been receiving, while also being able to service more patients. This includes patients in remote areas as well as in the clinical setting.
Reduced Waiting List Time For Patients
A lot of ABA therapists have a waiting list of patients who are requesting access to their therapeutic services. When an ABA therapist can use telehealth to provide expeditious care to their current patients, it inevitably opens up more time and clinical hours to serve new patients. This reduces waiting list times and sizes, while also ensuring that more patients in your geographical region have access to the high-quality care they need.
Coordinating with Other Disciplines
Many patients with ASD and others receiving ABA therapy have a comprehensive support team of providers in other disciplines. This might include occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech & language pathologists, special education teachers, and more.
When ABA therapists have access to telehealth technology, they can more easily coordinate with these other providers. Not only is this more convenient and cost-efficient, but it also helps reduce the overall costs to the patients.
Parent & Caregiver Training
A lot of patients receiving ABA therapy rely heavily on their family and other caregivers to serve as a close support system. Many times, this requires ongoing parent/caregiver training sessions. Telehealth technology can be used to help ABA therapists communicate with the patient’s support team.
Thus saving parents/caregivers time by not having to travel to the ABA practitioner’s clinic. This can be a great boon for families in remote locations, as well as those with ABA patients who are used to having their caregiver immediately available.
Streamlining Medical Coding & Billing Practices
Telehealth services for ABA providers have become increasingly accepted by major insurance companies and public health institutions. They recognize the benefits and cost-effectiveness for patients. Often times telehealth services are coded just like clinical procedures.
Except there is usually a modifier added to the code. So long as that modifier is used correctly, most insurance companies and public health institutions will honor the claim with prompt reimbursement.
Improved Accuracy in Coding Telehealth Services
There’s a strong possibility that HB4040 or a similar measure will pass, thus extending access to telehealth services for ABA therapists and other disciplines through the end of 2024. In order to ensure that your ABA practice receives prompt reimbursement for telehealth claims, you need to make sure the claim is coded correctly.
Even the slightest piece of missing data or applying the wrong modifier can lead to delays in reimbursement as well as the increased risk of a claim denial or rejection.
That’s why so many ABA providers who embrace telehealth services also turn to the medical billing specialists at Operant Billing Solutions to handle all their claim submissions. Our highly trained experts are intimately familiar with the finer points of telehealth services and turn a keen eye toward making sure that all your claims are properly coded long before they are submitted to the payer insurance company.