Questions about staffing a telehealth program using locums tenens physicians? Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Do physicians need to have experience with telehealth before providing these services?
While having experience with telehealth would be helpful, it’s not necessary. The physician does need to have an orientation to your facility’s processes and technology.
Are locums telehealth physicians covered by your malpractice insurance?
Our malpractice carrier requires that to provide insurance, there needs to be adequate processes and technology in place to protect our physicians. Prior to staffing locums in your telehealth program, you will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire to screen for malpractice eligibility.
Does Weatherby Healthcare provide equipment to the physician for telehealth purposes?
No, your facility will need to supply the equipment necessary, ensuring that it meets your unique protocols and standards. Facilities may also ask the covering physician to use their own computer, which is why both visual and audio privacy are verified on the questionnaire.
Can your physicians do phone appointments?
The same questionnaire should be completed regardless of the type of technology being used to connect physician to patient. In some cases, our Quality Assurance team can put a temporary solution in place while we get a full Telehealth agreement executed.
What payors are reimbursing for telehealth?
Reimbursements vary by state and payor. However, in response to COVID-19, Medicare will pay for telehealth services furnished to Medicare beneficiaries for office, hospital and other visits furnished via telehealth. Telehealth visits are reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits. Many commercial health plans have announced that they are providing additional coverage for telehealth services and are waiving patient cost-sharing for such services. For a current list of services payable under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule when furnished via telehealth, click here.
Will there be a reduction in fees for telehealth coverage?
The majority of our fee is represented by physician compensation. While pay is negotiable, physicians are in especially high demand, so asking physicians to accept a reduced compensation will severely limit the pool of available physicians. Staffing telehealth on a temporary basis can help control costs by eliminating travel-related expenses such airfare, rental car, and housing.
Why do you charge hourly/daily rates rather than per consultation?
Just like regular locum tenens assignments, our physicians are holding their time available and foregoing other opportunities. For that reason, Weatherby Healthcare pays our physicians for their time, even if patient load becomes light.
What happens when business returns to normal and we don’t want telehealth coverage anymore?
Our physicians can resume working as locum tenens in person at your facility.