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    Virtual visits boost primary care outcomes


     “For behavior health, as many as 50% of patients who are recommended to go to therapy just don’t go, so having (in-office telehealth) can remove that barrier,” Antall says.

    When implementing a telehealth program for physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners, having triage protocols in place is important. 

    “The key is understanding that while you can do most things with telemedicine, there comes a point when someone needs to come into the office,” Young says. Not everything can be diagnosed virtually, and sometimes, like regular office visits, a virtual visit might necessitate a follow-up visit or additional testing.

    Right now, 29 states and the District of Columbia have telehealth parity laws, which allow for insurance reimbursement, and rules vary by state for physician extenders. 


    Further reading: Apple looks to expand healthcare presence


    “Five years ago, it was only 13 states,” Young says. “Everyone should know the rules, regulations and restrictions for telehealth in their state, but absolutely, you can increase the catchment area of your patients.”

    Virtual visits are considered “reimbursable” events, and another benefit is patient satisfaction, Antall points out

    “This practice model allows you to take care of a much larger group of patients, but still maintain a personal relationship and help them more efficiently,” Fickel says. “There are patient experience improvements, there are cost savings to be able to intervene early, and we feel really strongly patients need us beyond traditional office hours.”




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