In response to COVID-19 and expert recommendations for social distancing, we are now offering clients telehealth. This means that we are offering video sessions over the internet and, if video is not an option, by phone. We ask that all clients who can be safely and effectively seen using telehealth to do so.
What You Will Need
In order to utilize video sessions, you will need:
- High-speed internet and a device with both camera and microphone
- A private spot during your appointment, typically a room at home where you can close the door and no one can hear you. Headphones are great!
- If you are using a mobile device, download the Telehealth for Simple Practice app for iOS or Android.
You will also need to complete our telehealth forms, which can be sent through the Client Portal or printed off and mailed in. The forms include:
- Consent for Tele-Mental Health
- Financial Agreement for Tele-Mental Health*
- Credit Card Authorization and a credit card on file*
*These forms do not apply to our Medical Assistance clients.
We will need permission to communicate with you electronically, via email or secure message in the Client Portal, so that we can send you the link for your video session. This is a unique link just for you. Each client will have their own link. For most appointments, we are using a secure, HIPAA- compliant platform that is integrated with our health record system (Simple Practice).
Will insurance pay for therapy delivered via telehealth?
At this time, most insurers are covering video appointments. Some will also cover phone sessions, if video is not possible. Some are even waiving co-pay and deductible costs for telehealth appointments.
You are responsible for checking with your insurance plan to confirm that telehealth is covered and we have put together a list of questions you can ask when you call them. On occasion, clients are being incorrectly told that their plan only covers telehealth if we use a specific platform, such as Amwell or Teledoc. If you are told this, please let us know.
We are taking two steps to streamline the financial end of things:
- We will submit a claim to insurance as soon as possible after your first telehealth appointment, to make sure that telehealth is covered and determine whether your co-pay or deductible applies.
- We will wait until after the insurance claim is processed before we bill you for your co-pay or deductible. This way, if your insurance waives those costs, you will not be charged for them. If your co-pay or deductible applies, your credit card-on-file will be charged after insurance processes the claim.
If your plan does not cover telehealth, you will be billed the contracted rate for your insurance and your card-on-file will be charged.
Are there risks associated with telehealth?
Like any health service, there are of course risks and benefits. These are outlined in more detail on our Consent form. The biggest risk is around confidentiality. When you come to the office, you come to a private, confidential location for therapy. When receiving therapy remotely, you have greater responsibility for ensuring your privacy. There is also the chance that technology doesn’t cooperate and your appointment gets interrupted as a result. We encourage you to read the Consent carefully and ask any questions you might have.
How does this work, exactly?
Great question! We utilize a platform called Simple Practice and they have a very useful FAQ on their website. If you are set up for email reminders, your reminder will include the video link to use at the time of your appointment. Otherwise, your therapist will send it via email or Secure Messaging, depending on what type of communication you have consented to.
We are hard at work finding creative ways to engage our youngest clients over video. This may include increasing parent involvement in therapy appointments, reading books or playing games over video, using an interactive white-board on-line, and other activities to help them continue working on their therapy goals.
What happens when the threat of coronavirus is over?
When that happens, we will go back to meeting in the office! Telehealth may remain available as a “once in a while” option, but the expectation will be that we continue to meet in person the majority of the time.
One more thing…
We understand how surreal and stressful the current situation is for many families. During times like this, consistency is especially important, and continuing regular therapy appointments can help. We are committed to continuing to support your and maintaining continuity of care. We hope that offering telehealth sessions will help to facilitate this.