In light of the extraordinary situation that we are facing with the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, I have decided that it is in everyone’s best interest to temporarily move all client appointments to an online (telehealth) format through April 6, 2020. I have based this decision on our national state of emergency, disturbing growth curve models of the outbreaks, varied orders to cease non-essential business operations, rapidly changing exposure precaution guidelines, advice from my colleagues across the nation, increasing travel uncertainty, and my own pre-existing health circumstance.
Please, be advised that I have converted all appointments through April 6 to telehealth. Scheduled clients will receive an automated appointment reminder via Email with a link to join our session at the scheduled time. As always, treatment services are completely voluntary, and may be canceled at any time.
I have added the necessary forms, service codes, invoicing changes, and a comprehensive telehealth guide to my online practice portal. Prior to initial telehealth sessions, these forms will need to be completed through the client portal here: https://pritchard.clientsecure.me/
Although healthcare provider offices are generally considered “essential businesses,” I have an ethical obligation to prevent or minimize your exposure to harm wherever possible. Outside of mental health crises, telehealth is a reasonable accommodation that will allow us to continue our work together without interruption under the current circumstances. Although not my preferred modality, research shows that telehealth can be just as effective as in-person appointments – particularly for established clients.
Most insurance companies already cover telehealth and many more have released statements that they will now begin reimbursing. I have updated by billing system to generate invoices, statements, and superbills with the appropriate codes and modifiers for clean submission of out-of-network insurance claims for telehealth services. Typically, copay and coinsurance rates are the same for in-office visits. Accordingly, my rates will remain the same.
Although it feels different than meeting in person, it is usually a quick adjustment to telehealth. The telehealth platform that I use is easy, secure, and fully HIPAA-compliant. All you need is a computer, tablet, or smartphone. You do not need to download or install any software on your computer. There is no password to remember. You will simply click on a link in your email, follow the instructions, and I will appear on your screen. If you so choose, there is also a convenient application for Android and iOS devices called Telehealth by SimplePractice.
Understandably, these recent unprecedented events have us all feeling a variety and range of emotions. There is no right or wrong way to feel about COVID-19. If you have a low level of concern, you are not under-reacting; if you are concerned and taking precautions, you are not overreacting. However, it is important to take a proactive approach toward minimizing exposure to this virus.
I encourage you to advocate compassionately for yourself, family, and community. Wash your hands frequently. Cover coughs and sneezes. Practice social distancing, but not social isolation – connect with your loved ones by phone or video. If you’re exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness, I implore you to stay home, nurture yourself, and seek medical attention by phone. Please refer to the CDC’s dedicated 2019-ncov website for additional information, and maintain awareness by checking the official communications from the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization.