When the American Optometric Association advised optometrists to postpone all routine eye care visits on March 19, 2020, many ODs turned to telehealth. Virtual visits have many advantages, like keeping patients safe from coronavirus exposure, improved access to care, and reduced health care costs. It is essential to have a written plan when incorportating telemedicine, before implementation.
Patient consent is necessary
– Patients must be informed that the session will constitute an actual examination and be billed as such. Consult with liability carrier for the specific language and format recommended
Understand the limitations
– Current technologies will not allow detailed examination of the anterior or posterior seg-ment of the eye
– It is not possible to measure intraocular pres-sure (IOP)
– Patient-reported measures, like visual acuity, may not be highly reliable
– Refraction is not possible
– Some patients are more tech-savvy than others
– Patients with low vision will need special assistance on their end
– Some patients will need to be seen in the office, and these patients and visits should not be overlooked. Stand-alone televisits are inappropriate for these patients and should be handled as such
Learn the billing codes
– The billing compliance requirements, at least for now, are different than those needed for in-person examination
– Review codes with billing team
Perform internal auditing
– Conduct an audit at least after the first week of televsit piloting and learn how to improve. Best practice is to audits for the entire first month of telehealth.