Telemedicine talks reach compromise to restore services

Telemedicine billing and codes have been the subject of negotiations for many weeks.

Telemedicine codes that expired in April are expected to be updated this week, allowing for expanded services and sessions lasting up to 60 minutes.

Progress on the matter comes after weeks of discussions and frustration on the part of practitioners, who found previous codes cumbersome and limiting for clients.

Dr. Marc Lockhart, chairperson of the Cayman Islands Mental Health Commission, said that after talks with insurance providers and regulators, he is satisfied that a compromise has been reached.

“Basically, all of the concerns we had from a mental health standpoint, they are willing to work with us in terms of coming to an equitable agreement. That’s beneficial for our patients in particular and also to help to reduce the burden that the practitioners are facing in trying to juggle all of this,” Lockhart said.

For mental health providers and special needs therapists, he said the updated codes are a welcome change that should allow for improved and expanded services. Previously, telemedicine codes had been limited to one, 30-minute session a week, which behavioural and mental health providers lamented as insufficient.

By allowing for longer and more-frequent sessions, the new codes are also expected to reduce financial stress on families and clients, Lockhart said.

In exchange for the expanded services, providers have been asked to document their sessions, in a manner that protects client confidentiality, to validate the time spent with patients, he added.

During Monday’s press briefing, Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour said the discussions had been developed into a Cabinet paper and were expected for review by caucus on Tuesday, 12 May.

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