Virtual Check-ins are for brief communication with doctors or practitioners between visits. This is a benefit created and offered by medicare. Virtual Check-ins are not the same as Medicare telehealth visits.
In all areas (not just rural), established Medicare patients in their home may have a brief communication service with practitioners via a number of communication technology modalities including synchronous discussion over a telephone or exchange of information through video or image. Virtual services can be initiated by the patient; however, beneficiaries should be educated with regard to the availability of this service prior to patient initiation.
Medicare pays for these “virtual check-ins” (or Brief communication technology-based service) for patients to communicate with their doctors and avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office. These virtual check-ins are for patients with an established (or existing) relationship with a physician, PA-C or nurse practitioner where the communication is not related to a medical visit within the previous 7 days and does not lead to a medical visit within the next 24 hours (or soonest appointment available). The patient must verbally consent to receive virtual check-in services, as the practice will need to bill for these virtual check-in services. The Medicare coinsurance and deductible would generally apply to these services.
The practitioner may respond to patients’ concerns by telephone, audio/video, secure text messaging, email, or use of a patient portal. In addition, separate from these virtual check-in services, medicare will allow patients to send captured video or images to a physician as a separate service.
Individual virtual check-in services services need to be agreed to by the patient; however, practitioners may educate beneficiaries on the availability of the service prior to patient agreement.
In summary, MDC offers two ways to briefly communicate with your doctor between visits. These are the descriptions with the codes. 1. HCPCS code G2012: Brief communication technology-based service, e.g. virtual check-in, by a physician or other qualified health care professional who can report evaluation and management services, provided to an established patient, not originating from a related e/m service provided within the previous 7 days nor leading to an e/m service or procedure within the next 24 hours or soonest available appointment; 5-10 minutes of medical discussion.
2. HCPCS code G2010: Remote evaluation of recorded video and/or images submitted by an established patient (e.g., store and forward), including interpretation with follow-up with the patient within 24 business hours, not originating from a related e/m service provided within the previous 7 days nor leading to an e/m service or procedure within the next 24 hours or soonest available appointment. Virtual check-ins can be conducted with a broader range of communication methods, unlike Medicare telehealth visits, which require audio and visual capabilities for real-time communication.
Remember, Virtual Check-ins are not to be confused with Medicare telehealth visits. Virtual check-ins are for 5-10 minute communications that can include text messages; Virtual Visits (e.g. telehealth, telemedicine) allow for complete follow-up visits from home, and are billed in the same manner as a visit at your doctors office.