APTA has been a long-time advocate for PTs and PTAs providing services via telehealth — the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to remotely provide health care information and services — but COVID-19 has quickly changed the landscape of telehealth and other communication technology-based services. In fact, CMS' interim rule released April 30 allows PTs to conduct real-time "face-to-face" telehealth services. (See our Coronavirus webpage for the latest updates related to the pandemic.)
Before you begin providing services via telehealth or using telecommunications modalities, consider federal and state legislation and regulations that govern your practice, billing and coding issues, and hardware and software requirements.
The resources below identify areas most important for you to investigate and consider.
CMS Guidance Allows PTs in Private Practice to Provide Services Via Telehealth UPDATED
In a major shift, CMS will now include PTs in private practice among the providers able to bill for services provided through real-time face-to-face technology. But there are requirements.
Win: CMS says SNFs, Hospitals, HHAs, Rehab Agencies, Other Institutional Settings Can Bill Telehealth Outpatient Therapy Claims – May 29, 2020
CMS has announced that Medicare Part B institutional claims for outpatient therapy services furnished via telehealth are permitted for CAHs, CORFs, HHAs, hospitals, rehab agencies, and SNFs.
New Details Emerge on Delivery of Remote Services by Hospital Outpatient Department PTs and PTAs in Medicare – May 22, 2020
CMS provided more clarity on how hospital provider-based departments may furnish remote services to hospital outpatients and bill as if furnished in-person.
Different Telehealth Modalities and PTs' and PTA's Eligibility to Use Them
Includes descriptions of live video, e-visits, virtual check-ins, remote evaluation of visual recordings, and telephone assessment and management services.
APTA Advisory: CMS Opens the Door to Providing Remote Care to a Patient in the Same Building - But Not in the Same Room
CMS has indicated that institutional settings are able to furnish care remotely and bill as if furnished in-person when the provider is in the same setting as the patient but not in the same room.
Telehealth: Legislation and Regulation
Use your voice to call for expanding the use of telehealth: APTA provides templates and other resources for joining APTA's advocacy efforts. Also find general information on federal and state legislation and regulations. Thanks to a strong push by members, CMS Guidance Allows PTs in Private Practice to Provide Services Via Telehealth (April 30, 2020)
Billing and Coding Considerations
Includes basic information and recommendations on billing and coding for physical therapist services provided via telehealth.
Implementing Telehealth in Your Practice
Before adopting any telehealth solution, investigate issues such as eligibility under your state's practice act, legal and privacy considerations, payer policies, and liability; and review practical considerations for when you begin using telehealth services.
Thinking About Providing Telehealth? Here's Our Top 10 'To-Do' List
Step 1 is knowing what's allowed, and what isn't. (March 27, 2020)
Asking the Right Questions About Telehealth
It's not enough to ask if telehealth is permitted by a state agency or payer: You need to ask specific questions to understand what you can and can't do.
Physical Therapy Telehealth Patient Satisfaction Survey
APTA's Health Policy & Administration Section Technology SIG and APTA staff have created a telehealth patient satisfaction survey. Consider sharing it with your patients to collect feedback about their telehealth visits.
Audio and Video Telecommunications System Vendors
APTA's Health Policy & Administration Section Technology SIG and the APTA FiRST Council have created a spreadsheet of vendors that provide audio and video telecommunications services that could be used for telehealth.
Free Courses and Webinars
Medicare Telehealth Update During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (May 1, 2020)
Digital Telehealth Practice - Connect for Best Practice, Compliance, and Health Care (April 3, 2020)
Implementing Telehealth in Your Practice STAT: Practical Guidance from Experienced Telehealth PTs (March 26, 2020)
Increasing Physical Therapist Acceptance of Telehealth (March 23, 2020)
HIPAA and Telehealth (February 26, 2018)
Additional Free Courses From the APTA Learning Center
The opportunities include both live and recorded telehealth webinars.
Check on the Status of State Mandates and Payers Allowing Telehealth
As things rapidly develop regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, mandates and payer policies around telehealth are continuously evolving. APTA has developed a series of summaries of the status of federal, state, and commercial payers, and state laws regarding eligibility of PTs to provide telehealth services and payer coverage of some form of telehealth, based on information the states and payers have released. APTA will update these resources weekly with new information that has been confirmed. These are summaries only; refer to the payer policies and state laws for the most accurate and current information.
Increasing Access to Physical Therapist Services: Research on Telerehabilitation (.pdf)
This issue brief contains information on studies that demonstrate the potential for cost-savings, improved outcomes, increased access, and higher patient satisfaction through the use of telerehabilitation.
Telehealth in Action: Physical Therapists Share Their Stories (.pdf)
Get first-hand accounts of how PTs are providing physical therapist services via telehealth to clients and patients.