Members from the Hudson Headwaters 340B team were excited to present during the annual Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) conference in October 2020. Jim Donnelly, Stephanie Willis, and Barbara Zanoni delivered a virtual presentation on The Future of Telemedicine for 340B Eligibility. The presentation also featured a brief interview with Dr. Kevin Gallagher from Hudson Headwaters Health Network to provide a network perspective on speeding up the telemedicine roadmap due to COVID-19.
The presentation carefully outlined different areas of pandemic response, along with methods for covered entities to make sure their telemedicine programs are also 340B compliant. Topics covered in the presentation included the current environment of 340B, HRSA 340B COVID Resources and FAQs, using reporting to understand program benefit, necessary policy and procedure changes, and the importance of provider changes and credentialing.
Below is a shortened transcript of the question and answer session between Stephanie and Dr. Gallagher:
Stephanie: What was the early use of technology like (at the start of the pandemic) versus how the network has adapted to current visits?
Dr. Gallagher: We went from doing no virtual visits at all to figuring out how to provide that service within a matter of 3-5 days. We created a process where we could still use our computer system, and EMR to take care of patients as we would normally. We used zoom as a platform to provide virtual connectivity and also did some visits telephonically. A lot of regulations were lifted during the time of the early outbreak and healthcare crisis which made it easier to provide these services. The first few weeks were full of learning and growing and there were a lot of creative changes in workflows based on practitioners’ feedback to the process. About 20% of visits still remain virtual through the platform.
Stephanie: How have you seen the number of visits change from March to the present time?
Dr. Gallagher: In March we had to quickly minimize patient traffic in the office and early in the pandemic this lead to the uptick in our video visits. We have continued to do testing and found a low prevalence of disease in new york state and in our region. We have started using some tools to risk stratify our patients and see who could come into the office and who would be at most risk. We have found ways to bring our patients back into the office safely. At the highest 50-60% of our visits were virtual, and we see around 10-20% remaining virtual. We have to consider what this looks like again going into flu season and any possibility of a second surge.
Stephanie: How did COVID accelerate your telehealth roadmap? Did this impact departments outside of direct clinical care?
Dr. Gallagher: A lot of stipulations and regulations have been relaxed, which helped us move through situations that were formerly barriers to our telehealth roadmap. We had a new situation where patients needed to be taken care of and we needed to continue providing them care. Our previous roadmap was where we found telehealth to be a strategic move and a way to reach patients, but that quickly became a need with a new sense of urgency.
The presentation continued into several topics hosted by Barbara and Jim for 340B best practices. “The healthcare system is going to change and evolve with our experience in this pandemic,” says Jim. He continues, ” We need to make sure that we able to protect the benefit that provides crucial patient care and protecting the 340B program by being good advocates and being vocal about why it matters.” The presentation ended with key takeaways for attendees to make sure are addressed in their home programs, these are outlined below:
- Stay up to date on information provided by HRSA
- Make Policy and Procedure updates to reflect emergency situation language
- Maintain accurate credentialing and site information
- Reach out to Apexus with OPAIS registration, site, and eligibility questions
- Pay Attention to reporting: See your trending and review financials with your TPA and Pharmacy Partners
For guidance through unprecedented times in 340B, let our team be your resource and your partner. Reach out to learn more about how Hudson Headwaters 340B can help you maximize your compliant 340B program. We’re in this together, so let’s do it right.