Telehealth 101

An ongoing buzzing topic in nutrition is telehealth. Through a variety of platforms, as a practitioner, you can now meet with your patients virtually! A natural next step for healthcare in the digital age, telehealth is a great opportunity to expand your business and increase access to needed nutrition counseling services. 

What exactly is telehealth? Telehealth is an efficient and cost-effective way for you to meet with patients: 

 

“Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration."

— Health Resources and Service Administration

 

Specifically, for you as an RDN, telehealth represents an opportunity for you to virtually meet with your clients via live video chat.

Preparing to provide telehealth services the right way is not without its challenges. First, there are a number of tech platforms to evaluate; as always, HIPAA compliance is paramount. Also, insurance companies treat in-person and virtual appointments differently – knowing how to bill for them is important. Lastly, you may find some of your clients challenged by using tech for a virtual appointment.

There is no national ruling on telehealth, which means that each state is developing its own set of laws or policies. This has created a patchwork of regulations that can admittedly be confusing to navigate. We here at Healthy Bytes can help you understand telehealth in relation to nutritional counseling and to your practice. 

Two key aspects of telehealth are licensure and contracting. To provide MNT across state lines, you’ll need to be licensed in each state where your clients are based. And, to potentially receive insurance reimbursement for those telehealth consults, you’ll also need to be credentialed and contracted with the insurance companies in the state where your clients are based. Credentialing and contracting happens on a state by state basis, so you (or Healthy Bytes, on your behalf) will need to reach out to an insurance company to initiate that process in each additional state where you plan to have a virtual presence. Make sure you also check with insurance companies to find out if they have a preferred or required telehealth video platform that you should use. Broadly speaking, telephonic sessions aren’t yet reimbursable.

There’s a lot to consider as far as telehealth is concerned, especially given how in flux the regulatory landscape is these days. But the potential for private practice growth via telehealth is significant, and Healthy Bytes is excited to support you, should you choose to integrate telehealth as a modality for rendering nutritional counseling to your clients!