Updated March 24, 2020
Q: We are unable to find masks, gowns and sanitizer. What can the AOA do to help us secure these products?
We’re hearing from our members and seeing reports in the mainstream media that physicians and healthcare workers on the front lines are in desperate need of personal protective equipment. We’re encouraging physicians to tell their members of Congress to act now, and share how COVID-19 is impacting their ability to care for their patients via email and/or Twitter. In addition, please use and share these tools to keep track of COVID-19 federal and state legislative activity.
Q: Does insurance reimburse for the house visit and OMM/OMT, and what are the codes?
Phone calls and telemedicine visit guidelines have been lifted for services related to COVID-19 or checking on patients. OMT being a manual modality would not be something that can be provided through the audio-visual exchange.
As far as insurers reimbursing for house calls, it varies by each insurer and you would need to check your contract and fee schedule.
Per the AOA Physician Services team, house call codes (99341-99345 for new patients and 99347-99350 for established patients) are found under the Home Services subsection in the Evaluation and Management section. CPT® house call codes are like office visit codes, but with two major differences: The typical face-to-face time is longer with house calls. They may only be billed when services are provided in the beneficiary’s private residence (POS 12). To bill these codes, physicians must be physically present in the beneficiary’s home.
In the case of house calls, physicians need to document that the home visit was medically necessary. In other words, you must present a medical – rather than practical – reason for visiting a patient outside the office. Here are a few other considerations to keep in mind when you bill for a house call:
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) and many CMS contractors regularly audit home services billed to Medicare. Make sure to provide appropriate documentation showing that the house call was medically necessary.
Please note the CMS recommendations for non-emergent procedures and remember that the OMT codes fall within the surgery section of the CPT book.
Q: I’m a retired physician. I heard we’re being asked to rejoin the workforce. How do I activate my license again to start practicing?
Many states have eased licensing requirements to allow more physicians to help meet the growing healthcare needs of the pandemic. AOA members can send their AOA Profile to all state medical boards at no cost; and non-members only pay a nominal fee. This benefit can enable you to serve in areas of need more quickly through expedited credentialing. Get started at AOAprofiles.org.
Q: The cost of sending profiles is too high for non-members. Is the AOA doing anything to help with the cost when extra physicians are needed during this time?
The AOA is helping physicians, both active and retired, serve in an area of need during the COVID-19 pandemic through expedited credentialing. AOA members can send their AOA Profile to all state medical boards at no cost. For non-members, we are temporarily reducing the per profile cost to $5 per state board. Learn more.
Q: I have never used remote patient care. Do you have any resources/ websites/ methods to help me with telemedicine?
As more of the U.S. population is asked to shelter in place, telehealth has become more important than ever. We’ve put together a telehealth guide to provide physicians information about expanded coverage of telehealth by CMS and private payers.
Additionally, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is allowing access to a variety of telehealth platforms, and relaxing HIPAA enforcement of communication tools for virtual visits. Physicians may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype. Physicians should not use Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok or other public facing communication services.
States can cover telehealth using various methods of communication such as telephonic, video technology commonly available on smartphones and other devices. No federal approval is needed for state Medicaid programs to reimburse providers for telehealth services in the same manner or at the same rate that states pay for face-to-face services. For more information on this announcement, read the HHS Fact Sheet.
To view an AOA webinar hosted by Michael Brown, DO, titled Telemedicine – Successfully Practicing Medicine From a Distance, on March 25 sharing best practices for telehealth during COVID-19, visit this page.
In addition, the following products can assist in the short term with monitoring or live video consult of patients during the coronavirus outbreak:
Remote Monitoring of Patients
AOA Member Value Partner Ceras Health is a remote patient monitoring platform can be set up for AOA members with no implementation fee. Patients who want to be tested for the virus or those who have already tested positive for the virus download the Ceras app and enter their vitals three times a day. Those readings are monitored by a Ceras RN. If the readings raise an alert, the Ceras RN will notify the patient and you for follow up. Consult with Ceras on your state reimbursement.
HIPAA-Compliant Video Platform
Bluestream Health is offering AOA members free access to HIPAA-compliant video sessions with patients during the COVID-19 crisis. Go to Bluestream, enter your email address and full name, and Bluestream will create a platform for you to send a secure invite to your patient via text or email. The patient clicks on the link and a HIPAA-compliant video session with you begins. Details from the visit can be downloaded into a HIPAA-compliant repository.
Q: How will closures impact my residency and training?
We understand that training cycles have been disrupted. While we’ll defer to the ACGME and the AOA PTRC for how they will accommodate, manage and address gaps in training and other GME-related challenges, we’re ready to assist residency graduates with expedited board certification once meeting the training requirements. While we don’t yet know the full impact of closures and cancellations related to COVID-19, we can tell you that we are investigating ways to expedite certification, ease the financial burden to candidates and modify our certification and OCC requirements.
Q: What are the next steps for board certification, now that my exam has been cancelled?
Our Certifying Board Services team continues regular communication with our Specialty Board members and physicians on both initial exams and recertification, including informing candidates and diplomates that testing centers are closed through April. Instructions for rescheduling exams will be shared soon.
We understand that training cycles have been disrupted. While we’ll defer to the ACGME and the AOA PTRC for how they will accommodate, manage and address gaps in training and other GME-related challenges, we’re ready to assist residency graduates with expedited board certification once meeting the training requirements.
While we don’t yet know the full impact of closures and cancellations related to COVID-19, we can tell you that we are investigating ways to expedite certification, ease the financial burden to candidates and modify our certification and OCC requirements.
Once all training requirements are met, the AOA’s specialty boards will be ready to assist you with:
In addition, the AOA is expediting evaluation and launch of technological innovations enhancing access, convenience and ease of exam administration.
Finally, if you are registered for an early entry initial certification (EEIC) exam scheduled to occur in the spring of 2020 and an extended need for social distancing results in that exam being rescheduled to the summer or fall of 2020, the EEIC application fee will be applied to the future initial certification exam with no additional administrative costs. Further, despite the fact that the candidate may have graduated, we will honor their resident eligibility status for the EEIC pathway.
For questions or concerns about AOA Board Certification, please contact Chaunessie Baggett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-202-8017.
Q: Is the AOA deferring CME for a period of time due to coronavirus ?
Check the AOA event status regularly for information and updates on meeting, conference and board exam closures. The AOA continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and due public safety some meetings and exams are being evaluated on a case by case basis in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and state and local health agencies.
In addition, the AOA offers at-home and on-demand CME options for all members and nonmembers offered by AOA-approved CME sponsors through the AOA Online Learning Center.
Q: I cannot travel, how will I meet my live requirements by my licensure renewal (CME Requirements) deadline?
To address the concern of travel restrictions, the AOA has compiled a central resource for online 1A courses and virtual conferences, in place of live events. These activities meet the criteria for 1A credit and there is no limit for 1A credit.
For Online 1A courses:
Q: Due to all the cancellations of conferences and meetings, how can I still receive credits?
The AOA offers at-home and on-demand CME options for all members and nonmembers offered by AOA-approved CME sponsors through the AOA Online Learning Center.
Q: How are we going to complete GME and Predoctoral education requirements?
We understand that training cycles have been disrupted. While we’ll defer to the ACGME and the AOA PTRC for how they will accommodate, manage and address gaps in training and other GME-related challenges, we’re ready to assist residency graduates with expedited board certification once meeting the training requirements. We’re investigating ways to expedite certification, ease the financial burden to candidates and modify our certification and OCC requirements.
Q: What products are impacted?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) because of the manufacturing in Hubei Province, China
Q: What is taking place in China?
Q: What is taking place in other manufacturer countries?
Q: What is happening with the higher utilization products?
Q: What should I be doing?