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  • Coronavirus Update: March 26, 2020

    New PT practice guidelines for COVID patients in acute hospitals, Cigna opens up telehealth for PTs, a call for postacute care COVID preparedness, and more.

    Practice Guidance

    March 26: New Practice Guidelines for Physical Therapy and COVID-19 in Acute Hospital Setting
    A new set of recommendations for physical therapy related to COVID-19 in the acute hospital setting acknowledges the necessity of involvement of PTs well-trained in respiratory physical therapy, but cautions that facilities should be judicious in their use. The recommendations have been endorsed by APTA, the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section, and the Academy of Acute Care Physical Therapy, albeit with a few caveats that not all of the Australia-based guidance will apply in the U.S.

    The recommendations are limited to PTs and "other relevant stakeholders" in acute care settings who are providing care to patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. The guidance includes more than 60 recommendations ranging from shift planning to the specific types of PPE PTs should wear.

    March 26: Cigna Adopts Telehealth Policy for Physical Therapy
    Insurer Cigna announced a series of temporary changes that open the possibility for telehealth by PTs, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists. The measures allow for reimbursement of PT services that include codes 97161 (evaluation, low complexity, 20 minutes, telephone or virtual), 97162 (evaluation, moderate complexity, 30 minutes, virtual), and 97110 (therapeutic exercises, two unit limit). Codes must be appended with a GQ modifier and billed with a standard place-of-service code. Cigna recommends that providers follow CMS guidance on the use of a specific software program but states that it will not require the use an specific software for now.

    March 30, 3 pm: APTA Hosts Facebook Live Event, "Implementing Telehealth in Your Practice STAT"
    APTA will host a Facebook Live version of its sold-out March 26 webinar that featured a panel discussion with experienced telehealth PTs providing insight on how they implement telehealth in their practices.

    From U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    March 25: HHS Says That Providers Can Share Patient's COVID Status With First Responders
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidance that the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows health care providers to share protected health information on an individual who has been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 with first responders without the individual's permission under certain circumstances. Situations under which HIPAA-covered entities can share this information with law enforcement, paramedics, and other first responders include but are not limited to: when the information is needed to provide treatment; when they are reporting to public health authorities; and when first responders may be at risk of infection.

    In the Media

    March 25: JAMA Viewpoint Stresses the Need to Address Postacute Care Challenges Related to COVID-19
    Authors of an opinion piece in JAMA warn that postacute care facilities may be overwhelmed in much the same way hospitals could soon experience as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses through the population. They stress the need for immediate capacity-building, and urge policymakers to implement additional policies such as paid sick leave for staff, enhanced Medicare rates, and reimbursement for hospital-at-home models "at parity with institutional hospital care."

    Visit APTA's Coronavirus webpage for more information and updates.


    • I have expensive therapy code 97161 and code97101’ I also have the COV-19 my PCP told me I am under quarantine I have 2 kids 9 and 14 I ran out of food stamps I don’t get them until April 7 2020 they have to understand since schools are closed down of course ur children is going to eat more the usual ecayse there homes 24/7 there board so they eat. I need help like everyone else this is bull shit

      Posted by Johm Ciccarelli on 3/27/2020 3:46 PM

    • Can we get some practice guidelines related to outpatient services already APTA? You are supposed to be our flagship and leaders that we can turn to during times like this when we need guidance. Of course acute care needs practice guidelines, but so do all other settings. We need it now.

      Posted by anonymous on 3/29/2020 10:05 AM

    • Outpatient physical therapists that still have offices open are doing nothing to flatten the curve. Not only are you putting your employees at risk but their whole families as well. We can tell who really wants to help people at this point and who is just in it for the money. We’re not saving lives here people. As a matter of fact you’re killing people, and that’s on you at the end of the day.

      Posted by Anonymous on 4/1/2020 11:11 AM

    • Please make a statement about home health. Our hospital has begun assigning Covid-19 positive patients to PTs in the home health setting for general conditioning. This seems completely negligent and reckless. My entire caseload is over 80 and/or has cancer, MS, etc. And yet I'm expected to mix in seeing covid-19 positive patients during the day? This is reckless endangerment. We are using our personal vehicles and getting into our vehicles wearing the same clothes we would be seeing covid-19+ patients in. How is this helping flatten the curve?

      Posted by Leah Vereschagin on 4/4/2020 10:14 AM

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