COVID-19 Impacts Physical Therapy

COVID-19 impacts Physical Therapy

Tele-health soon to take center stage as COVID-19 impacts physical therapy and associated professions

Social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak means a complete reexamination of how healthcare services are delivered. COVID-19 impacts physical therapy and other rehab professions very harshly, though many ‘experts’ have been quick to label these appointments as ‘elective or ‘non-essential.’ But professionals know better, and are therefore committed to keeping patients on track.

Tele-health is certainly the most popular and widely discussed option, but it’s important for PTs to understand the current healthcare landscape, as it applies to reimbursement and other considerations.

As such, APTA has recently updated its website to reflect these concerns and others as it applies to telehealth. A list of considerations follows:

  • APTA recently updated resources on tele-health related to areas such as legislation and regulation, risk management considerations, billing and coding considerations, and implementing tele-health in practice. You will find these on the APTA Telehealth webpage.
  • A new blog post, entitled “Challenges and Opportunities in Tele-health: a Q&A.”
  • Another Q&A related to Congress’ coronavirus legislation signed into law last week. It gives the Department of Health and Human Services authority to waive certain Medicare telehealth restrictions (with stipulations) and continues to limit provider types who can furnish telehealth to Medicare beneficiaries. Physical therapists are not included as a provider type that can furnish telehealth as a covered service to Medicare beneficiaries under this legislation. Due to a number of questions related to this legislation, APTA recently issued a news advisory on tele-health.
  • A CMS fact sheet describes regulatory flexibilities and other actions the agency implemented in March to help health care providers and states respond to and contain COVID-19. The actions did not include expanding Medicare coverage to include tele-health services furnished by physical therapists. The actions did include temporarily waiving Medicare and Medicaid requirements that out-of-state providers hold licenses in the state where they are providing services.
  • In addition, the Center for Connected Health Encounters offers “Billing for Telehealth Encounters: An Introductory Guide on Fee-for-Service (.pdf),” a 21-page document that outlines billing procedures.


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