Before the mid 2000’s, telemedicine was done via telephone. As technology caught up to the needs of providers, the healthcare industry can now provide video conferencing in order to provide patients with services from anywhere with internet access. It is not difficult to see how video conferencing can offer better, more accurate services to patients and allow for providers to feel more comfortable with their decision making as they have more information available to them.
As legislation changes and current technology allowing for stable, secure and even high definition video conferencing very inexpensively; where is the opportunity, and the liability?
The opportunity to provide additional services or after-hours services more easily, allows for the obvious additional revenue streams for any practice, from small to hospital systems. From seeing patients that are unable to visit your brick and mortar practice, to the ability to see patients from your conference on the other side of the country or out of town at a family event; patients can obtain a better customer experience, which even Medicare is paying attention to now. What if you could see your established patients for follow-up or med visits via tele-medicine, and save everyone time? And still charge similar rates? Or work with specialists to provide more complete care to your patients?
Now that we have all of the ideas floating in your head on how to increase revenue with a limited additional cost or initial investment; let’s go over potential landmines. Like the example of Dr. DeCorso out of New Jersey. He was approached by a DME to see patients. Even better, the patients would be seen through telemedicine. So he could see even more in a shorter period of time. The problem became that a combination of HHS, OIG and the FBI found proof that he was guilty of defrauding Medicare for $13 Million by prescribing orthotics that patients didn’t need. So the same old landmines exist as before, only the bandwidth for the error is much much larger. Surely as telemedicine grows and becomes more prominent, there will be more cases such as that of DeCorso; just as the pill mills of the mid and late 2000’s.
If you are interested in telemedicine, make sure to speak with your lawyer or a healthcare consultant to make sure that they manner in which you do it is law-abiding. No one size fits all, but this is a sector of the industry that can be a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors in your city.
For more information regarding Dr. DeCorso’s case go to: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/new-jersey-doctor-pleads-guilty-13-million-conspiracy-defraud-medicare-telemedicine-orders