5 Questions on Telehealth: ABA Therapy in the Time of COVID-19
We hope you were able to join us for the latest ABA Community Chat. This series allows us to welcome providers for a Facebook Live session where they can have their questions answered by an industry professional. For this session, we were joined by Dr. Joy Pollard, Co-founder and CEO of Clinical Operations at Behavior Change Institute. Dr. Pollard has been working in the area of telemedicine or telehealth practices for the past seven years. Her own clinical practice is focused on the delivery of service through telehealth modalities in homeschool and residential settings. As a subject matter expert on telehealth guidelines for the Council for Autism Service Providers (CASP) she gives great insight into how practitioners can continue providing care during the COVID epidemic. Below you’ll find a summary of common questions and answers from Dr. Pollard’s ABA Community Chat.
Q: Our practice has never used telehealth before, where do we begin?
A: CASP has been working on guidelines and organizational standards for providers to use during the pandemic. One chapter on telehealth guidelines has been pre-released and its a great opportunity to learn more about teleheath service delivery and how to being developing your clinical and business infrastructure.
Find the guidelines here.
Q: A lot of funding sources have approved reimbursement for absences/cancelled appointments for ABA clients in March. Now that telehealth services have been approved by most funding sources would they still reimburse for absences/cancellations after March?
A: It will really depend on the healthcare funders whether they are going to continue to allow for reimbursement beyond the month of March. If you’re not receiving clear answers, inquire whether there are any supervisors that you would be able to speak with and obtain that information in writing. Its likely that they’re not sure whether they’ll be able to continue providing reimbursement past the month of March. Funders are changing their policies in accordance with the changing environment almost daily. Be sure to check back as much as you can. Its also appropriate to discuss with funders how the move to telehealth affects the way you care for your clients and your business overall.
You can find updated lists on funders who have approved or changed their policies on telehealth here.
Q: Do we need consent from parents? If so, is there a sample form?
A: Yes, you’ll need to appropriate a separate consent form for any type of telehealth service delivery model. Typically you’ll want to to include a background on the risks and benefits of the services being delivered through this modality as well as what different types of modalities might be delivered. You can find a sample consent form in the appendix of the CASP Practice Parameters for Telehealth-Implementation. The sample consent form identifies telephonic, synchronous, and asynchronous modalities and both the provider and client can notate which modalities they are comfortable with and give consent for.
Q: How do we get parent signatures per visit if we are doing telehealth?
A: It depends on each organization and how they are currently obtaining signatures. If an organization is already using an electronic practice management system that allows their providers to obtain signatures electronically, then there is likely going to be an option to still have parents sign for these sessions. Potentially, what clients may need to do is log in to their own client account, or their family account, and sign for each of the sessions either individually or in bulk, depending on how the provider has that set up.
If providers are using paper signatures then it might be worthwhile to speak with your funders and ask them what will be acceptable for their signature requirements just to be sure that you are meeting those requirements and that you are able to respond appropriately if you have to do an audit. This is possible another funder specific question that would require providers to speak with their funders and notate who they spoke with as well.
Q: A lot of funding sources have approved reimbursement for absences/cancelled appointmendts for ABA clients in March. Now that telehealth services have been approved by some funding sources would they still reimburse for absences/cancellations after March?
A: It will likely depend on those healthcare funders whether or not they are going to continue to allow for reimbursement beyond the month of March. If you’re not currently receiving clear answers, inquire whether there are any supervisors that you would be able to speak with and obtain that information in writing. Its likely that they’re not sure whether they’ll be able to continue providing reimbursement past the month of March.
Q: Can sessions be recorded?
A: Sessions can be recorded and that should be included in the consent form to obtain consent from the caregiver. The consent form should also indicate what the recordings will be used for, including caregiver training and supervision of technicians.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be used in lieu of practitioners own due diligence, state and federal regulations, and funders’ policies. During the Coronavirus pandemic, and when implementing telehealth, be sure to use your resources and complete the proper follow-up with funders and insurance.