Additional COVID-19 Stimulus Funding Available

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About Lauren Brawley

Lauren Brawley is a Marketing Specialist at Patagonia Health, a cloud-based EHR designed specifically for behavioral and public healthcare. Lauren integrates her strong communications skills with industry research to keep partners up to date on important Behavioral and Public Health resources and news.

Additional COVID-19 Stimulus Funding Available

Additional COVID-19 Funding

The Federal coronavirus stimulus package was so well-received, it actually ran out of money! Luckily, Phase 3.5 of the COVID-19 funding passed, making $484 billion of emergency funds available for small businesses. The SBA is accepting applications again now.

More Funding for Small Businesses:

  • The Paycheck Protection Program was replenished, allowing small businesses and nonprofits to apply for economic relief.
  • Loans can be forgiven if the money is used to keep employees on payroll.

Funds for Behavioral Health Agencies:

  • Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Providers are eligible for additional healthcare funds.
  • Eligibility is the same as it is for the CARES Act.
  • The first $30 billion of these funds are allocated to Medicare providers

ACT FAST: Get your materials in order now. Remember, items may vary by lender.

More Details:

The Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The CARES Act Section by Section Summary
Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance

Corona Virus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist

Related Posts:

Patagonia Health Signs Contract with Carequality Interoperability Framework

Patagonia Health, a developer of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) software focused on Public and Behavioral Health, has signed a contract with Carequality. Carequality connects thousands of providers nationwide to patient health data. Members of Carequality include Electronic Health Record vendors, regional Health Information Exchanges, labs, and other data sources. The membership with Carequality will enable Patagonia Health users to connect directly to local hospitals for patient records, as well as many other networks nationwide, without requiring multiple third-party interfaces. 

The Carequality Interoperability Framework will enable Patagonia Health’s clients to:

  • Access real-time patient information for providers to develop the best care plan decisions
  • Improve clinical insight, quality outcomes, and financial performance
  • Improve coordinated care in communities and reduce the cost of healthcare
  • Seamlessly access the database of thousands directly through Patagonia Health EHR with fast overall performance—information returned within 30 seconds
  • And more!

Application and development work is currently underway for a secure membership with Carequality. Patagonia Health expects to be an active member of the interoperability framework by September 2020. To learn more about how to benefit from Patagonia Health’s Carequality membership, contact us today.

Patagonia Health Featured in KLAS COVID-19 Technology Guide

KLAS Research's COVID-19 Technology Guide

KLAS Research recently highlighted Patagonia Health, a developer of Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) software for Public and Behavioral Health, in their COVID-19 Technology and Services Solutions Guide. Patagonia Health rapidly developed a COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Public Health Decision Making Tool within their software, which led to their inclusion in the KLAS Insight Report. The report is a quick guide for healthcare organizations to choose a trusted technology partner who can act fast to support them during these unprecedented times.

Public Health professionals, Patagonia Health’s primary customer base, are on the front lines combating this virus. Local Public Health agencies are tasked with identifying cases of COVID-19 and working with government officials on how to advise the community on precautionary measures. Patagonia Health’s risk assessment and decision-making tool responded to this urgent need by developing a screening tool that automatically categorizes an individual’s risk of infection. Similar to screening tools developed during previous public health emergencies, such as the Ebola outbreak, the COVID-19 Risk Assessment tool follows CDC guidelines exactly. 

“In this time of crisis, our development team worked quickly to implement the COVID-19 Screening Assessment for Patagonia Health’s users,” says Ashok Mathur, Co-Founder and CEO, Patagonia Health, “We understand the importance of combating this pandemic as we work with public health professionals each day. We feel honored to be highlighted in such a prestigious report, such as KLAS during these unprecedented times.” 

Additionally, Patagonia Health worked with LabCorp to facilitate the distribution of COVID-19 test kits. Users who have the LabCorp bi-directional lab interface can order COVID-19 test kits directly through Patagonia Health EHR. COVID-19 ICD10 diagnostic and CPT codes are updated and available to users in the interface. The assessment tool is now available free of charge to all Patagonia Health EHR users. 

To read the entire KLAS report, click here.

About Patagonia Health, Inc.

Patagonia Health, Inc. is a healthcare software supplier with a cloud and apps-based software solution that is designed specifically for Public and Behavioral Health agencies. The solution includes an integrated, federally-certified, Electronic Health Record (EHR), Practice Management (PM) and Billing software. The company’s mission is to solve two major barriers to EHR adoption − usability and cost − and address customers’ number one problem: billing. Patagonia Health’s highly-intelligent solution is extremely easy to use and provides timely data for organizations to improve workflow, streamline operations and take their organizations to the next level. For more information, visit https://patagoniahealth.com.

Read the press release here: https://www.prweb.com/releases/patagonia_health_featured_in_klas_covid_19_technology_guide/prweb17054026.htm

Telehealth Part 2: New Rules and Regulations from CMS

Telehealth: New Rules from CMS and Resources

During these unprecedented times, many adjustments are put into action to accommodate the new normal of social distancing. As previously discussed in our New Rules for Telehealth Technology blog post, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a large spike in virtual healthcare visits. In these times of rapid change, normal rules and regulations are relaxed to increase accessible care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently adjusted its policies so more practitioners can use telehealth during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

How CMS is Responding to COVID-19

Public health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, require the U.S. healthcare system work quickly to make sure people are receiving necessary care. As the largest health insurer in the nation, CMS plays a critical role in enforcing new safety and billing guidance during these uncertain times. CMS has implemented temporary changes during our country’s state of emergency. Here is a quick summary of the timeline so far:

Timeline: 

March 13 – The United States declares COVID-19 as a national emergency. CMS publishes an initial emergency declaration fact sheet for healthcare providers.

March 17 – CMS announces an expansion of telehealth services covered for Medicare beneficiaries. CMS also approves the first state request for 1135 Medicaid waiver in Florida.

March 27 – 34 states officially approved for a Medicaid waiver under Section 1135 (see the CMS Newsroom for updated numbers).

March 30 – 80 additional telehealth services added under Medicare coverage.1  

These dates are only a few noteworthy occasions of the many changes made in the past month by our country. CMS reports that Medicaid waiver requests are being approved in historic turnaround times. Fulfilling waiver requests quickly grants states ample flexibility to serve individuals on Medicaid, who are often underserved in communities. CMS reports, “Other types of Medicaid waivers can require months of negotiation, but in light of the urgent and evolving needs of states during COVID-19 CMS developed a streamlined template for facilitate expedited application and approval of Medicaid 1135 waivers.”2  

What does a Section 1135 waiver mean?

The Medicaid-specific waivers approved to many states are under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act. These waivers specifically provide the healthcare system greater flexibility for providing care to individuals. Some of the temporary flexibilities include:

  • Waiving requirements in the authorization for fee-for-service program
  • Out-of-state providers can provide care to another state’s Medicaid population if they have been impacted by the national emergency
  • Waiving requirements that providers be licensed in the specific state they are providing care in (as long as they have equivalent licensure in another state)
  • Suspending requirements relating to pre-admission or annual screenings (specific to nursing homes)

CMS changes are evolving each day. It is important now more than ever to stay up to date with the facts. Regulations differ on a state and local level. As always, follow the guidance of your local health authorities. For further details on the Section 1135 waivers (specific to state Medicaid), please visit Medicaid.gov or trust reliable news sources, such as the CMS Newsroom. Furthermore, CMS is regularly updating this webpage to keep beneficiaries and healthcare professionals up to date.

Further Expansion for Telehealth

Telehealth is continually seeing an expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic. CMS is now allowing 80 additional services to be provided through telehealth, specifically for Medicare patients. Covered healthcare professionals may use any non-public facing product, such as FaceTime, Skype and Facebook Messenger to provide telehealth during this public health emergency. Penalties won’t be imposed on covered providers who have not entered into a HIPAA BAA with these vendors.

Billing has also been adjusted, allowing healthcare professionals to bill telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits. New and existing patients can now be at home while receiving various forms of healthcare.

As always, see CMS.gov for more information on the temporary regulatory changes and other changes that might be implemented. 

Patagonia Health is Here for You

There is so much information out there about COVID-19. Patagonia Health is here for you as a resource. We are regularly updating resource pages to specifically help you sift through the noise. 

State-Specific Telehealth Coding and Billing Cheat Sheets and other Educational Resources

COVID-19 Resources for Public & Behavioral Health

As a trusted Public and Behavioral Health EHR, practice management, and billing solution, we understand the importance of combating the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. Our team is currently collaborating with customers to develop a fully integrated telehealth solution. If we can be a service or resource for you, please contact us today. 

References:

1 https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/telehealth/cms-adds-85-more-medicare-services-covered-under-telehealth.html

2 https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-approves-34th-state-request-medicaid-emergency-waivers

Additional Resources:

The National Council’s COVID-19 Resources

CMS Emergency Information on COVID-19

Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Fact Sheet

Historic Expansion of Telehealth Announcement from HHS

New Rules for Telehealth Technology

It’s no question that COVID-19 is rapidly changing the way we live and work. New social distancing restrictions and shelter-in-place orders cause businesses to become creative in how to stream services online or operate from a distance. Since the beginning of this pandemic, healthcare providers have been on the front lines. As social distancing becomes increasingly important, even healthcare workers must implement measures to serve clients from afar. Telehealth is an even hotter topic right now for just this reason. 

We’ve seen a spike in organizations using technology to continue providing care. Offering telehealth keeps both patients and healthcare professionals safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. For that reason, the government recently lifted restrictions on telehealth. Telehealth is expanding to every type of healthcare provider, not just those working to treat COVID-19. The expansion of telehealth helps slow the spread of COVID-19 and provides more healthcare access to individuals during this unique time. 

So, what are these lifted restrictions and how can you get started with telehealth?

What is Telehealth?

Flow chart describing the differences between telehealth and telemedicine

Before we can understand new rules and regulations for telehealth, it’s important to define what telehealth is. Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services electronically or through telecommunications. It allows for individuals to receive health education, clinical visits, health administration from a distance by utilizing technology.1 Telemedicine is a category of telehealth. Telemedicine refers directly to clinical services being offered electronically. Telehealth covers a large umbrella of health services, as shown on the flow chart.

Relaxed HIPAA Regulations for Telehealth

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released last week that normal penalties on HIPAA noncompliance will not be imposed on organizations providing telehealth. This means that normal HIPAA requirements are now being relaxed to allow more healthcare workers to use telehealth. These rules may vary across states, so it is important to check local health authority updates. However, relaxed HIPAA regulations do not mean relaxed privacy standards. Security of a patient’s private health information is always held at first priority. These relaxed penalties allow professionals to begin offering care electronically as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know about the new HIPAA guidance from OCR:

Healthcare Workers Can Now Use “Non-Public” Products to Offer Telehealth

Non-public products include technologies such as:

  • Apple FaceTime
  • Skype
  • Google Video Hangouts

Non-public applications still allow for the privacy of a patient’s information; whereas, public applications may not provide the same security. Public-facing applications are prohibited in electronic healthcare visits, even with the relaxed HIPAA regulations.  OCR specifically prohibits such “public-facing” solutions, which include apps like Facebook Live or Tik Tok.

Safety Not Automatically Ensured

While the commitment to privacy and security remains the same, it’s important to note safety is not automatically ensured in these non-public solutions. OCR recognizes the use of these applications will present potential risks in privacy. 

Clients and healthcare professionals should work diligently to confirm encryption and privacy modes are enabled in non-public applications. It is always better to double-check privacy settings rather than assume everything is in place. 

Roger Severino, the director at OCR, recently stated, “We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency.”2 Telehealth will allow more people to access the care they need during this trying time in public health history.

Getting Started with Telehealth

With telehealth quickly expanding, it’s important to know how to get started. The American Medical Association recently released a helpful quick guide to facilitate using implementation for providers. When getting started, it’s recommended organizations think through these 3 steps:

  1. Designate team members to make decisions quickly about solution options for a facilitated implementation
  2. Make sure your malpractice insurance carrier policy covers telehealth options
  3. Develop a base knowledge of the payment and policies that come with telehealth services

HHS additionally provides a list of technology vendors claiming to be HIPAA compliant.3 While this is not an exhaustive list, it includes vendors that would qualify as HIPAA-compliant products under the normal HIPAA circumstances. These vendors additionally claim to be willing to enter into a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with healthcare providers. In short, BAAs are legal documents that ensure video service products protect patient privacy. Products on the HHS list include:

  • Skype for Business / Microsoft Teams
  • Updox
  • VSee
  • Zoom for Healthcare
  • Doxy.me
  • Google G Suite Hangouts Meet
  • Cisco Webex Meetings / Webex Teams
  • Amazon Chime
  • GoToMeeting

Again, these products are not an exhaustive list. Although, they may be important to consider as a longer-term telehealth solution. These products have more established privacy policies as they are commonly used under normal HIPAA circumstances.

Stay Up To Date on Telehealth News

It is likely that we will continue to see an increase in electronic care options and policies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. To stay up to date with the growing expansion and changes in telehealth, be sure to check trusted sources. The following links are resources to trust during the ongoing pandemic:

Patagonia Health is Here to Help

As a trusted Public and Behavioral Health EHR, practice management, and billing solution, we understand the importance of combating the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19. As always, if there’s anything we can do to support you, please reach out to us. 

Blog Resources

1 https://www.healthit.gov/topic/health-it-initiatives/telemedicine-and-telehealth

2 https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/03/20/ocr-issues-guidance-on-telehealth-remote-communications-following-its-notification-of-enforcement-discretion.html

https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/notification-enforcement-discretion-telehealth/index.html

https://blog.sigmundsoftware.com/hipaa-telehealth-coronavirus-provision?utm_campaign=Sigmund%20Blog&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=85054459&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8whNmUMZQfoIIp6zYVPoTQsnUVjhzK1ueThi9-6oo_XmdcqLlTmQaK2Z8exzrEIi6qGHnLyuM-1vIzI9icv1dz1UhT8A&_hsmi=85086582

https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/digital/ama-quick-guide-telemedicine-practice?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social_ama&utm_term=3207044834&utm_campaign=Public+Health