Two-way, real-time interactive communications, e-visits, virtual check-ins, remote evaluation of visual recordings, and telephone assessment and management services all are telehealth services covered under Medicare when furnished by PTs in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and in certain instances, after PHE ends.
Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to remotely provide health care information and services. In some cases services are reported using the same codes that describe services typically provided in person but instead are being furnished "face to face" remotely using real-time audio and video with the PT observing the patient and providing cues based on the patient's movement or actions.
In response to the COVID-19 PHE, CMS is covering two-way, real-time interactive telehealth services that are furnished remotely by PTs and telephone assessment and management services (medical discussion). Effective Jan. 1, 2021, PTs in private practice are allowed to furnish the following on a permanent basis under Medicare: e-visits, virtual check-ins, and remote assessment of recorded video or images. CMS describes these latter services as communication technology-based services.
These telehealth services may also be covered by commercial payers. For all payers, you'll need to first determine if your state practice act enables you to legally provide services via telehealth and, second, check with each payer policy to see if PTs and PTAs are included as providers eligible to be paid for telehealth services.
Here are descriptions of two-way, real-time interactive communication services, e-visits, virtual check-ins, remote assessment of recorded video or images, and telephone and management services, and the codes used to report them.