The Telehealth FAQ: What You Need to Know Before Opening the Doors of Your Virtual Practice

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Telehealth is an exciting development in the nutrition counseling community. Now, you are able to conduct your practice virtually, so that you can meet more clients, more frequently, to develop your client-provider relationship in a new way. There are so many reasons to delve into virtual nutritional care – but first, there are a few things you’ll need to know regarding state licensure, security, and regulation.

Telehealth offers a number of benefits not only you and your practice but also for your clients. The beauty of technology is that it makes it easier to connect with clients – in addition to video conferencing sessions, adding Telehealth measures such as messaging clients and sharing educational documents will help make your support feel more continuous, ensuring client success!

Can you form a lasting bond with your clients over virtual interaction?

Yes! Because Telehealth offers such a convenient method communication, your clients are less likely to cancel or no-show and the convenience of check-ins allows for you to meet your clients more regularly to quickly establish that lasting provider-client bond.

How does state licensure work with Telehealth?

With Telehealth, the location of your client is considered the “place of service.” You must have the required licensure for the state your client is in. If you are practicing Telehealth within the state you are credentialed or licensed with, you’re unlikely to run into any issues. If you intend to practice across state lines, you must first check with the state’s regulations regarding nutritional care to be sure that you meet the requirements to provide care.

Would Telehealth interfere with my Liability Insurance? 

Liability is dictated by state law and therefore if you intend to practice across state lines, you may want to check in with your insurance company to see how that coverage will be affected. Much of the coverage issues will vary by plan and insurance company. The Telehealth Resource Center recommends that you seek written assurance from your insurance company to ensure that their coverage will extend across multiple states.

Can I still take insurance with Telehealth? 

Yes. We have seen many completely virtual practices become in-network providers with a number of insurance companies. Coverage may vary between Telehealth and in-person office visits, but currently, 30 states have implemented parity laws that require private insurance companies to offer the same coverage for Telehealth services as they would an in-office appointment. As more insurance companies expand their coverage of nutritional care, we can only expect to see an increase in Telehealth coverage as well.

 How do I stay HIPAA compliant while practicing Telehealth?

HIPAA compliance means safeguarding your client’s private health information. When entering into the realm of Telehealth, you must ensure that all technology where health information appears has the protection HIPAA requires. You must have a Business Associates’ Agreement (BAA) in place with any and all third-parties who store or have access to private health information. This means that communication technology such as Skype, text messages, Facetime, Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, Dropbox, Snapchat or many, many others are not HIPAA compliant and you must acquire a BAA if you intend to use any of these third parties in your practice. The alternative is to use a Telehealth platform that is already HIPAA compliant – like Healthie!

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