COVID-19 Patient Telemedicine Guide


The information included in this resource page applies to policies and regulations generated in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.  Policies are continually changing as situations change, which may affect the applicability of information provided in this resource.
 
WHAT IS TELEMEDICINE/TELEHEALTH?
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. You can visit your medical provider by audio-video (or telephone in some cases) instead of going into her/his medical office.
 
CAN I USE TELEMEDICINE TO SEE MY SLEEP MEDICINE PROVIDER?
Maybe. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including:
  • What is allowed by your state government
  • Your insurer’s policies
  • If your physician offers telemedicine services
  • Whether you are a new or established patient
  • The type of service you need
 
WILL MY HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY PAY FOR TELEMEDICINE SERVICES?
MEDICARE
Medicare telehealth services include office visits, psychotherapy, consultations, and certain other medical or health services; to see if your specific service is covered, search on the Medicare website.

During the pandemic, Medicare will generally pay for telehealth visits (a visit where there is telecommunication – i.e. video or phone call – between you and the medical provider) regardless of whether you have a pre-existing relationship with your provider.  Medicare will only pay for virtual check-ins (a brief check-in over phone or video to determine if you need a full visit or other follow-up) and e-visits (communication through an online portal) if you already have an established relationship with the medical provider.

MEDICAID
Each state has different rules regarding the coverage of Medicaid for telemedicine services. View the AAHS COVID-19 State Telemedicine Resource for state by state information regarding Medicaid coverage during the pandemic. The information in this resource reflects state-provided Medicaid information.  Variations in Medicaid coverage may exist in your state depending on carrier so it is always best to check directly with your insurer to determine coverage.

PRIVATE INSURANCE
Some states require private insurers to cover telemedicine services during the COVID-19 pandemic; view the AAHS COVID-19 State Telemedicine Resource to see policies in your state. You should also contact your insurance provider to determine which telemedicine services are covered.
 
 
HOW CAN I START TELEMEDICINE VISITS?
Contact your sleep medicine provider to see if they offer telemedicine visits; if you don’t currently have a provider, check with local providers to see if they offer telemedicine visits for new patients. Many telemedicine platforms allow you to search for local participating providers.
 
CAN I DO TELEMEDICINE VISITS FROM MY HOME?
 Medicare and most other insurers are currently allowing you to do telemedicine visits from your home; however, you should check with your specific insurer to confirm coverage.
 
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED FOR A TELEMEDICINE VISIT?

Software
For video visits, you’ll need to connect to your healthcare provider via a telemedicine platform or videoconferencing app; your provider will give you information regarding which platform they use. During the national emergency, providers may be able to use popular apps for video conferencing, such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Zoom, and Skype; however, you should know that these apps are not HIPAA compliant and may carry security risks.

Hardware
You will need the following:
  • Computer, tablet, smartphone or other mobile device that is compatible with the software your provider is using or able to carry the specific app you are trying to use
  • Microphone, if not already available through your device
  • Video camera, if not already available through your device
  • A secure, high speed internet connection
 
HOW DOES A VIDEO VISIT WORK?
If you’ve used video-conferencing apps or platforms such as Skype or Zoom before, this is very similar to connecting with your provider using telemedicine.  Every telemedicine platform looks different, but generally you will:
  • Log-in to the telemedicine platform (your medical provider will provide a link and log-in information or instructions) and ensure your camera and microphone are working.
  • Connect with your physician in the visit; you will see and hear your medical provider via your video connection, and they will see and hear you.
  • You will conduct your visit with your medical provider just as you would if you were in their office.
  • Your medical provider may make notes or send you information through the platform or portal you are using.
 
Download a PDF Version of this resource. 
Access the AAHS State Telemedicine Resource, which details state action and coverage of telemedicine services during the COVID-19 Crisis.