During this time of the coronavirus pandemic, it has become especially important to make use of all available remote methods of delivering healthcare to individuals in need of it. This is true for people in the workforce, just as it is for students who are still in school, and are attending in-person classes at their grammar school, high school, or university. Telehealth provides benefits that simply cannot be delivered by in-person office visits, the first of those being that it relieves the pressure on overworked physicians who may not have time to provide office visits for all patients in need of care. Medical Assistance Guidelines

The second benefit, and the one which is probably more important during the era of coronavirus, is that the student be evaluated remotely, without the need for an in person visit. This eliminates parent concerns and the need for extra safety measures would have to be taken, where mandatory instructions on safe distancing would have to be given to the visitor, and for extra sanitary practices to be carried out by staff members, e.g. wearing personal protective equipment.

In March of 2020, only about 13% of all physicians belonging to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) were using telehealth as part of their practice, i.e. providing either video or phone connections to qualified physicians. Once the coronavirus struck, all that changed. By the end of May 2020, more than 94% of all AAFP physicians had installed telehealth capabilities at their practices.

This overwhelming change was facilitated by the fact that a great many barriers which had thus far stalled the growth of telehealth, had been swept away by governing bodies which recognized the new significance of the practice. Here are some of the medical assistance guidelines which will help your school either get setup for telehealth, or to make more extensive use of it.

Payment for services 

With remarkably few exceptions, reimbursements and payments for telehealth services have been provided promptly by insurance carriers, who also recognize the tremendous benefit of such services during the present Public Health Emergency. This includes Medicaid which is core to school claiming reimbursement. While it is more than likely that some payment provisions which are now in place will diminish after COVID-19, it is also highly likely that video visits from schools and a number of remote patient monitoring options will remain in place, and will continue to be reimbursed when claimed on medical bills.

School options for provider-patient visits 

When you’re setting up your school for telehealth visits, there are several forms which this can take, and the one you choose will have to be the method which works best for your school, in terms of technology and personnel. When video visits are arranged, they will be the closest thing to an in-person visit which technology currently allows for. Almost anything which might be done at a clinic or a healthcare facility can be done in the Nurse’s Office, while connected to the provider’s location via video.

Telephone calls are another option which may work well for your school, since there is no real technology called for. If the school nurse is included on the call, it will allow a doctor to make some specific recommendations for care, and have them be carried out by a trained medical professional. Then there is the Secure Messaging method of telehealth, and this process calls for there to be a patient portal, a secure email, or some kind of telehealth platform, so that professional advice and support can be delivered by the provider. 

The last possibility which your school might want to setup for telehealth is remote patient monitoring. In this method, students would be required to wear specialized gear or wearables which monitor important body processes, for instance blood pressure, heart rate, etc. This information would be conveyed back to a physician’s office where it could be analyzed and evaluated. That would then provide the basis for any medical actions which might be necessary, and which could be implemented either at school or elsewhere.

Making the process sustainable 

Once you have your school telehealth program up and running, you will undoubtedly begin to realize a number of benefits, just as telehealth systems provide to adults in the workforce. Almost immediately, you should begin planning for how to make your new program a sustainable one, so that in the aftermath of coronavirus, you can have a very useful program which continues to provide value and economy to your educational institution.

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