Telehealth Predications for 2022Sep 09, 2021
In today's Q&A with our Nutrition Practice Network experts, we answer the question, 'what will telehealth look like for registered dietitians in 2022?'
ANNA: For today's Q & A with the Nutrition Practice Network, we've got a really hot topic, which is what is telehealth going to look like post-COVID? Basically, what does the future of telehealth look like? And so I'm going to toss it over to our resident insurance expert, Ingrid. Can you give us an idea of what you're seeing on your end and what we can expect with telehealth?
INGRID: Sure. Well, in order to look at the future we have to look at the past, and we've been doing telehealth in our office for over six years, no problem. We've had a secure platform and insurance has, for the most part, been paying for those services. It's very similar to MNT. Someone needs to verify the benefits because each person's policy is going to be different. If MNT is covered, it may not be covered as telehealth, or perhaps the person has telehealth benefits, but they don't have MNT benefits. So, both of those need to be verified prior to the appointment. Now, if we're talking just in general, some states have parity laws. I won't get into all the details here, but that would mean that a policy, if it does cover as in-office, it's supposed to also cover as telehealth, but some policies may be excluded like self-funded plans, so that doesn't always apply to all policies.
We do have parity in our state of Georgia, but again, there could be plans that can still exclude telehealth. It's also just knowing that every state is different, every plan is different. We still have to look directly at each plan. There's really going to be no general rule that says all telehealth or all healthcare services are going to be covered by telehealth, all MNT is going to be covered by telehealth. But just historically speaking, the majority of plans and policies already covered that. And so, we're hoping that that will continue. Medicare, as long as there's a public health emergency, will continue to cover the services as telehealth. And we've all been advocating for all of their services to be covered by telehealth for many years. So we're hoping that this will be the sort of benchmark to change that to more of a permanent status.
The best thing to say about this is that the future is bright. If anything, we think things are just going to be more telehealth, more expansion. We really don't think it's going to be less than it was before if that makes sense. So, the future is bright. We have positive outlooks for telehealth. We expect most insurances to cover the service, continue to provide the service, and show great outcomes as we do. And as we can show those great outcomes, that we can provide those via telehealth and in-person. And, the fact that we can see many more patients; there's such a lack of access to care in rural areas. So if we can provide our services to even more patients, the better.
ANNA: So my group private practices in Kansas. We had coverage for telehealth before the pandemic. Christie, how about you? Did you guys?
CHRISTIE: No, so we're hoping that y'all are paving the future for us.
ANNA: Great. Cool. Well, so you do though now in the pandemic, right? Have some telehealth coverage?
CHRISTIE: We do. So we're hoping they'll continue it. So like Ingrid said I keep my fingers crossed that the future is bright.
ANNA: This is what's so great too about our Nutrition Practice Network Facebook group is we get to have conversations like this, where there are different intricacies based on states and just all the changing regulations, things like that around telehealth, and as things are evolving in healthcare before the pandemic and even now. These are great conversations that we're having kind of behind the scenes in our members-only Facebook group. So yeah, tune in there if you have more questions about this. Thanks, guys.
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