COVID-19: Practice Management

Find resources that can help you manage your practice during the pandemic.

Coding and Payment

Financial relief pathways: Some family physicians may qualify for financial relief through loans from the Small Business Administration, HHS Health Care Provider funding, and the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment program. The AAFP has developed a related loss calculator to walk members through financial information needed to apply for financial support once guidance has been released.  

New diagnosis code
The CDC announced that April 1 is the effective date for the new COVID-19 ICD-10 diagnosis code(www.cdc.gov). Physicians can use U07.1 to report a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Medicare coverage 
CMS has updated policies regarding Medicare telehealth services to address the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes telehealth, virtual care and e-visits. 

CMS extends reporting period
Days after the AAFP called on CMS(2 page PDF) to extend the reporting period for the 2019 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), the agency announced a later deadline of April 30. Clinicians not submitting data by then will qualify for the automatic "extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy" and receive a neutral payment adjustment for the 2021 MIPS payment year.

How reporting extension works
In a new FPM blog post, CMS offers data reporting relief in response to COVID-19, the AAFP explains how the data reporting extension for Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) 2019 works and what happens if practices are unable to submit data by the deadline.   

Private payer FAQs and policies
The AAFP is closely monitoring private payer policies regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and has compiled a list of frequently asked questions(5 page PDF), and a table of private payer payment policies(1 page PDF), based on information on each payer’s respective website.


Telehealth Guidance

Using telehealth to provide care during pandemic
Telemedicine and virtual care have quickly become important tools in meeting your patients’ needs. Here’s what you need to know when providing telehealth services.

General provider telehealth toolkit
CMS has developed a telehealth and telemedicine toolkit for primary care(6 page PDF) that provides an overview of the telehealth guidance and regulatory updates. 

More flexible policies
UnitedHealthcare has added flexibility to its telehealth policies(newsroom.uhc.com) to make it easier for patients to connect with their family physician. UHC will waive member cost-sharing for COVID-19-related visits.

HIPPA eases technology restrictions
Physicians can now use apps that allow for video chats(www.hhs.gov), including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, and Skype, to provide telehealth without risk of penalty.

Selecting telehealth technology
View the telehealth platforms members are using in private practice and see the questions that can help you when exploring a telehealth platform. 

The difference between virtual visits
The new blog post "A virtual visit algorithm: how to differentiate and code telehealth visits, e-visits, and virtual check-ins" can help you assign reimbursement codes. It outlines four types of virtual visits and the algorithm as a quick way for physicians to tell these services apart.


Practice Tools

Addressing non-urgent care needs
A new AAFP statement, Guidance for Family Physicians on Preventive and Non-Urgent Care(2 page PDF), provides support to members making recommended changes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring proper protection
This AAFP position statement on personal protective equipment (PPE)(1 page PDF) provides support to members to ensure they are properly protected when treating patients during this pandemic.

Physician office preparedness checklist
This resource outlines the necessary steps(4 page PDF) to protect your practice and patients. It was recently revised to include telehealth guidance, strategies to optimize personal protective equipment and definitions for self-monitoring, isolation and quarantine. 


Physician Well-being

Decreasing Stress and Anxiety
A recent article, Optimizing mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic(afpjournal.blogspot.com), highlights the toll COVID-19 is taking on family physicians and their teams. It includes a list of resources as well as advice on decreasing anxiety. In addition, the AAFP offers a list of resources(2 page PDF) to help you, your family, your patients, and your team manage stress during this pandemic. 

Mental Health First Aid
The frontlines of patient care is a difficult place to be during the COVID-19 emergency. Find tips for self-care(www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org) that you can use and share with your patients.

Resources to Support Your Family
We know our members need resources to support their families as they themselves are working in patient care settings. This list of resources(2 page PDF) can help with child care while most schools and daycares are closed, and offers a set of online resources to support the education and entertainment of kids at home. 

Ways to Reduce Home-exposure Risks
The new Protecting the Health and Safety of Your Household(2 page PDF) provides guidance on limiting the risk to your family when you return home at the end of your workday.


Financial Resources

A Lifeline for Your Practice
The Small Business Administration (SBA), in conjunction with State governors, is working to provide targeted, low-interest loans to qualifying small businesses. Learn more about the SBA's COVID-19 related resources, or visit the SBA website(www.sba.gov) to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan.