COVID-19: Practice Management

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

Frontline Patient Care                                     Managing Your Practice and Career                         
Coding and Payment                                      Physician Well-being
Telehealth Guidance                                       Financial Resources

Frontline Patient Care

Guidance on Testing Options 
This web page provides members with information on who to test, access and availability, types of tests, results, specimen collection, and coding and billing.

Resources for Retired Physicians Returning to Practice
This resource(2 page PDF) walks retired and inactive physicians through some basic information to consider, and questions to ask, if they are considering volunteering to provide care in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

Providing Care Outside Typical Practice Setting
The AAFP has developed a resource(1 page PDF) to assist physicians being asked to provide patient care in settings outside of their current practice in response to the COVID-19 emergency. This resource includes questions to ask and steps for physicians to take to protect themselves professionally.


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.   

CMS Offers Reporting Relief, but This Time It's Not Automatic
As outlined in a new FPM blog post, CMS is again offering QPP data reporting relief, but this time it's not automatic. Practices participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) that are significantly affected by the public health emergency can apply for the Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances Exception. In the blog post, the AAFP explains what this exception means for practices.

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(8 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)(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)(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.

HIPAA Eases Technology Restrictions
Physicians can now use apps that allow for video chats(www.hhs.gov)(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.


Managing Your Practice and Career

Considerations on Reopening Your Practice 
The AAFP has created a practice reopening checklist(2 page PDF) to help physicians make decisions on how and when to resume in-person visits. As more evidence becomes available, the AAFP will update our guidance. 

Contract Examination for Employed Physicians
With hospitals and medical practices making cuts due to COVID-19, now is a good time for employed physicians to review their employment contracts to see what protections they offer against budget cuts. Learn more from the FPM blog.

Contact Tracing Guidance for Family Medicine
Contact tracing is a core disease control measure. The AAFP's contact tracing guidance(344 KB PDF) outlines contact tracing basics and how it will impact family medicine practices.

Physician Employment Considerations
As practices, hospitals, and health care systems review and adjust staffing levels and compensation due to lost revenue, your employer may wish to modify your contract. The AAFP has prepared information and questions to assist you in navigating your employment issues.

Point of Care Testing 
The AAFP Point-of-Care Testing Policy(249 KB PDF) emphasizes that family physicians should have access to accurate and reliable point-of-care testing to expand patient access and improve care management.

Addressing Non-urgent Care Needs
The AAFP statement, Guidance for Family Physicians on Preventive and Non-Urgent Care(121 KB 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)(454 KB 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

Free Resource: Physician Support Line
The Physician Support Line(www.physiciansupportline.com) is a national and confidential support line service made up of 600+ volunteer psychiatrists who offer peer support for physician colleagues during the epidemic. Open 7 days a week; no appointment is necessary.

Webcast: Managing the COVID-19 Crisis
Find out how you can care for the emotional health of all stakeholders in patient care (including yourself) with the free on demand webinar Maintaining the Emotional Health of You, Your Team, and Your Patients.
Speaker: Psychologist Nancy Ruddy, Ph.D| Approved for 1 AAFP Prescribed Credit.

Earn CME for Physician Well-Being during Pandemic  
This course, Physician Well-being in the Time of the Pandemic, offers skill-building to alleviate the stress and cope with the trauma experienced while providing care to patients.

4 Quick Stress Management Tips 
Physicians must devote special attention to self-care during times of crisis. You can support your own well-being with the “Four principles for handling stress during a crisis.”  

Decreasing Stress and Anxiety
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. 

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.

Free Therapy for COVID-19 Frontline Clinicians
This online teletherapy program(www.eleos.health) matches volunteer therapists to frontline healthcare workers. 


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.

View what other financial assistance programs are available in your state »(24 page PDF)

More Resources on Financial Relief Web Page
The Financial Relief for Family Physicians page breaks down available financial relief programs, plus offers a related loss calculator, Medicare Administrative Contact list and application instructions.