Telehealth: Reaching Rural Americans

A continuing trend in nutrition counseling is telehealth. Through a variety of HIPAA-approved platforms you can meet with your patients virtually! Telehealth is a natural next step for healthcare in the digital age and it’s a great way to expand your business and increase access to needed nutrition counseling services.

We recently sat down with the Rural Matters podcast team for a discussion about improving access to nutrition counseling specifically for those living in rural America, as this particular population has its own set of challenges when it comes to access to healthcare. We discussed the important role that dietitians play on a coordinated healthcare team, and how to reach the millions of rural Americans who may not be aware that they may have access to nutrition counseling in the first place.

Reaching Rural Americans  

What might you do to reach those who aren’t even aware of your services? If you would like to offer your services to these populations, be sure you are connecting with physicians or other healthcare professionals for referrals. Ensure that you are advertising on your site and on social media that you are an in-network provider.

Reach out to healthcare organizations that have a focus on rural Americans and offer your services – partner with them, provide presentations, etc. – in order to reach those they serve. Such organizations include, but are not limited to, The National Rural Health Association and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health. Each state has its own office of rural health.

Reaching Rural Americans Who Have Medicare Coverage

Many in rural America may be covered by Medicare, especially those with renal or diabetes as their originating chronic disease. Note that with Medicare, it is necessary to confirm a client’s access to an authorized originating site prior to holding your nutrition counseling session via telehealth. According to CMS.gov, an originating site is the location of an eligible Medicare beneficiary at the time the service furnished via a telecommunications system occurs. Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for telehealth services only if they are presented from an originating site located in:

  • A county outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area, or

  • A rural Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) located in a rural census tract

Telehealth Policy

 It’s no surprise that there are currently upwards of 350 pending pieces of telehealth legislation throughout the 50 states. 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, especially if you are interested in providing your services across state lines. Your billing allies here at Healthy Bytes can help you understand telehealth in relation to nutritional counseling and to your practice.

Tune into the Rural Matters podcast and learn the nuances of how to help those in rural communities!

 

Disclaimer: Healthy Bytes was a contributing sponsor for this podcast.