CDC Beefs up on COVID-19 Reimbursement

Tag Archives: Public Health

CDC Beefs up on COVID-19 Reimbursement

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of COVID-19. With vaccine distribution at an all time high, clinics across America are searching for ways to provide care to communities through doses, screenings, and hospital care.

With the ongoing pandemic, clinicians across the United States are in need of assistance to continue to provide care to communities. With resources stretched thin, medical practitioners require reimbursement if they are to continue aiding the public. Thankfully, in early February 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) teamed together to announce their plans for relief funding for health care clinics across the United States. Starting with a new release of ICD codes and requirements for reimbursement, the CDC is making rapid steps towards aiding the relief effort in Spring 2021.

Throughout 2020, the CDC has released ICD codes for monitoring the novel coronavirus as it spreads throughout the United States. These codes detail how hospitals, private practitioners, and the public can safely protect against the virus and handle the development of the pandemic. January 1, 2021 saw a new release of these ICD regulations. The CDC and the NCHS have implemented new codes for the classification COVID-19, screening techniques, indirect and direct contact, history with the virus, and effects of the virus on pneumonia, connective tissues, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. The new codes and classification of the virus help healthcare centers to properly treat and diagnose COVID-19 cases as they come.

With updates on the codes to be published in the near future, many healthcare providers and hospitals are anticipating how this development will affect them. A crucial resource for practitioners has been the CDC guidelines. These guidelines have proved useful in delineating treatment, screening, and disbursement in 2020 and 2019. Treating a great volume of COVID-19 patients has been a great burden for healthcare providers across the nation. In addition to treatment, clinics now face the monumental task of vaccine distribution in the following months. 

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of the virus, as the vaccine is being progressively administered across the country.  Having an electronic health record solution that encompasses all the current codes, COVID-19 screening, and mass vaccination functionality can amplify the success of the response to the virus for treatment and vaccinations.

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

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

COVID-19 Resources for Public & Behavioral Health

COVID-19 Resources

There is so much information out there about COVID-19. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with it all, and even harder to sort out the important information from the rest.

Because we know you’re overwhelmingly busy during these stressful times, we pulled together a list of resources and information that we thought would be helpful. While not exhaustive, we hope this list will help save you time and give you much needed information.

If there’s anything we can do to support you, please reach out to us.

Links for COVID-19 Resources

ONLINE INFORMATION:

CDC Official Updates on the COVID-19 (CDC)
COVID-19 Resources for Community Health Centers (NACHC)
Emergency Preparedness Resources for Health Centers (HRSA)
Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation (SAMHSA)
New Diagnosis Descriptions for COVID-19 (IMO)
COVID-19, Public Health, and Your EHR (Patagonia Health)
NEW: FAQs on Telehealth and HIPAA during COVID-19 (HHS)

PRINTABLE FLYERS and TOOLS:

Stop the Spread of Germs (CDC)
Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CDC)
When to Use a Mask (WHO)
Social Media Graphics and Flyers (PAHO)
NEW: Tips for Social Distancing (SAMHSA)
NEW: Virtual Recovery Resources (SAMHSA)
NEW: COVID-19 Public Health Toolkit (CDC Foundation)

Related News:

Patagonia Health Releases COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Public Health Management Decision Making Tool

COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool will become available to all Patagonia Health EHR Users

Patagonia Health, an Electronic Health Record (EHR) focused in Public and Behavioral Health, is in the final stages of developing a COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Public Health Management Decision Making Tool. Public Health professionals are on the front lines of combating the growing COVID-19 pandemic. 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. 

The risk assessment and decision-making tool in Patagonia Health works to automatically categorize 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. The assessment will automatically open during the patient check-in process. The software will automatically categorize the patient’s risk level and save the results directly to the patient record. 

Additionally, Patagonia Health is working 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 will become available to all Patagonia Health EHR users, free of charge, by March 23, 2020. 

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.