The Old Dominion is a beautiful state to live in and an excellent home for telepsychiatry! This practice allows rural and under-served areas of Virginia to have access to quality mental health care, which can positively affect the mental health of the state as a whole.
Telepsychiatry is widely utilized throughout Virginia. The rules and regulations concerning telemedicine in Virginia are generally permissive. The University of Virginia is a leader in telemedicine and has been one of the great pioneers of the field. The Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center (MATRC) is the regional group that helps support the utilization of telemedicine in Virginia. Iris Telehealth is a proud member of MATRC and they have been a great partner in providing telepsychiatry care throughout the state.
Based on our research, Iris gives Virginia an A+ rating for being an awesome state for providing telepsych services. You’re awesome, Virginia!
THE STATE OF MENTAL HEALTH:
One in five Virginians will experience a mental health concern at some point this year — that means nearly 1.7 million people will need medical attention for their mental health. In Virginia, nearly 20 percent of children ages 9-17 have a diagnosed mental illness. Many hospitals, mental health centers, and other healthcare offices are struggling to provide enough quality care to patients seeking mental health help.
According to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “youth who are battling depression in Virginia are among the least likely in the nation to receive treatment for their mental illness.” Here’s why: there are only 13 child psychiatrists per 100,000 children in the state of Virginia. People who need mental healthcare often don’t get it because of this severe shortage, which is even more pronounced in rural areas. That’s where we come in.
IMPLEMENTATION OF VIRGINIA TELEPSYCHIATRY
Implementing a telepsychiatry program in Virginia is relatively easy to do with the proper knowledge and guidance. There are no specific restrictions related to technology requirements outside of abiding by HIPAA regulations. The Virginia Medical Board also allows clinicians to obtain a telemedicine license specifically for the practice of telemedicine within the state. The practitioner has to be licensed by the regulatory board where he or she is located and where the patient is located. The clinician must adhere to laws in both places as well. There are many successful telepsychiatry programs in Virginia that serve as excellent models to help health care systems looking to implement telemedicine move forward with confidence.
VIRGINIA TELEMED RULES & REGULATIONS
Like in every state, any clinician providing services to a patient located in Virginia must be licensed by the Virginia medical board. It is important that each clinician understands the rules specific and unique to Virginia in mental health.
According to Virginia law, “telehealth” or “telemedicine” means the real time or near real time two way transfer of data and information using an interactive audio/video connection for the purposes of medical diagnosis and treatment. Practitioners prescribing controlled substances must have a relationship with the patient. They must:
Obtain a medical or drug history
Inform the patient about the benefits and risks of the drug
Conduct a patient exam, either physically or by the use of instrumentation, and diagnostic equipment, through which images and medical records may be transmitted electronically
When all rules are properly followed and clinical care is given appropriately, Virginia law allows for the practice of telepsychiatry to help provide the care needed to underserved areas.
TELEMEDICINE REIMBURSEMENT IN VIRGINIA
Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine in Virginia is available for the typical services offered in a healthcare setting. These include:
Evaluation and management
Specialty medical procedures
Radiology service and procedures
Eligible providers include:
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Marriage and family therapist/counselor
Substance abuse practitioner
Clinical nurse specialists
Clinical social workers
Local Education Agency (billing speech therapy)
The use of telemedicine must be documented in the patient’s documentation. Out-of-state physicians are required to enroll with DMAS contractors to utilize telemedicine in the Medicaid program.
These services are reimbursed equivalently to a standard in-person session. Medicaid does not provide reimbursement for store-and-forward services, care delivered over the phone or through fax, email communication, or chart review.
Virginia passed their telemedicine parity law in 1997 and also includes coverage for state employee health plans. What this means is that private payers are required by law to reimburse for telemedicine services equivalently to services that are delivered in-person.
IRIS IN VIRGINIA
Iris Telehealth was born in Virginia and we maintain deep roots and relationships there. We are currently providing services throughout Virginia and remain the largest provider of telepsychiatry services in the state. We are providing outpatient services throughout the CSB system, as well as inpatient services and ER consultations for some of this state’s largest and most reputable health care systems. In addition, we are providing specialty services in multiple settings including correctional facilities and elderly care settings. Iris looks forward to continuing to grow our relationships with our current partners in Virginia as well as making some new friends along the way!