COVID-19: Adjusting to the new normal in healthcare

As we approach four months of the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of the U.S. healthcare system, so much has changed and much remains unknown. Here are a few items that we know for sure right now:

1. CMS is on-board with telehealth long term. Administrator Seema Verma recently told the Wall Street Journal, “The genie’s out of the bottle… It’s fair to say that the advent of telehealth has been just completely accelerated, that it’s taken this crisis to push us to a new frontier, but there’s absolutely no going back.”

2. NCQA, which rates health insurance plans on a scale of 0−5, will not release 2020–2021 Health Plan Ratings. (Accredited commercial and Medicaid plans will still need to submit their HEDIS and CAHPS measures.)The organization has also updated telehealth guidance in 40 HEDIS measures for 2020 and 2021 to align with CMS and support the increase in telemedicine usage since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. NCQA is updating its guidelines on how Patient-Centered Medical Homes can use telehealth for mental health care and meet NCQA criteria.

3. Thanks to virtual visits, many physicians have been able to keep certain patient appointments during the pandemic. But what about those that could not happen virtually? The CDC notes that there has been an under-utilization of important medical services for non-COVID-19-patients with urgent health needs during the last few months—and recommends that health systems balance the risks of the pandemic with the risks of further treatment delays. The organization also acknowledges that the pandemic is an ever-changing situation and the right course of action for your practice can vary greatly by day and by location.

4. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare plan member interest in telehealth has increased from 5% to 20%. And more than 40% of Medicare Advantage members are looking for health plan information online.

5. The American Medical Association’s Perspectives from the AMA podcast has released an episode on best practices for reopening physician offices during COVID-19.

6. Our friends at Orderly Health built this COVID-19 Access Guide to help the public search for local resources. (Be sure to scroll down to check out the Smile section for some much-needed positivity.)

Start Booking Virtual Appointments Today with ReferWell

We have launched telehealth capabilities to help you improve patient access and refer to your preferred, in-network specialists. You will also find local COVID testing sites in ReferWell to help with patient appointment scheduling.

Providers may now use ReferWell’s telehealth service free of charge for the duration of the pandemic. Or, connect through your native service.

Book a demo to see how.

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