April 30, 2020
RE: COVID-19 UPDATE; USEFUL TOOLS ON OUR WEBSITE
The COVID-19 stay at home order has likely magnified your day-to-day frustrations. It feels like your injury and need for medical treatments have been put “on hold” indefinitely. Many law firms are adopting this “on hold” policy, telling clients their only option is to suffer and wait. But when you’re injured, you’re already living with too much suffering and waiting.
That’s why I made it a priority to find ways to reduce or eliminate wait time for our clients. My staff has researched available options and compiled a list of new tools that can accelerate your access to medical care, and speed up day-to-day management of your workers’ compensation or personal injuries claims.
Speed up your access to care and claims management with these tools:
1. Telehealth appointment options: Find a list of health care providers who offer “telehealth” appointment options on our website. There you’ll find details related to eligibility for telehealth appointments and how to schedule one. Access the list directly at:
2. Video conferencing instructions: Learn how easy it is to use the video conferencing tools available for telehealth. Information about Zoom and other video conferencing applications is here on our website: https:/ /ramsaylawfirm.com/
3. Digital signatures and document management: We’ve selected two remote signing programs to make disbursing settlements and signing documents easier. Learn more about DocHub and Docusign. You may see these tools being used by our office.
We realize not every problem or delay in medical care can be fixed with these tools. But these approaches may work for you to obtain pain management, consult with a mental health expert, or even work on your physical therapy. Your recovery is a long process and each small step furthers your progress and healing. Please know that we will continue to work diligently to seek alternative solutions for you.
As always, our focus remains on you. We are grateful for the technology that allows us to continue to move your medical care and your life forward, while you stay safe at home.
How can you help during this time? If you find an option for medical care that works for you – please tell us! Sharing your story can help others. Please don’t hesitate to call us if you have any questions.
April 20, 2020
I’m sure the day to day frustrations of the COVID-19 stay at home order are magnified due to your injury and need for medical treatment. During this time, we have seen many law firms throw their hands up in the air and tell their clients that the only option is to suffer and wait. There is already too much suffering and too much waiting when you are injured.
I asked my staff to pivot their thinking and find ways to reduce or eliminate wait time for our clients. We researched and developed tools designed to help injured workers increase their access to medical care and in managing their workers’ compensation or personal injuries claims.
We focused first on preparing a list of providers who provide telehealth options, getting details about who can be considered for telehealth and how to schedule those appointments. Information about telehealth providers can be found here: https://ramsaylawfirm.com/telehealth-information/
We prepared information about how to use the video conferencing tools available for telehealth. Information about Zoom and other video conferencing can be found here: https://ramsaylawfirm.com/zoom-dochub/
We investigated and selected remote signing programs to make disbursing settlements and signing documents easier. Information about DocHub and Docusign can be found here: https://ramsaylawfirm.com/zoom-dochub/
Not every problem or delay in medical care will be fixed by these efforts, but we will continue to seek alternatives for you. Some of you will choose not to use those methods, which is your right. However, if even a portion of our clients can use this time to work on physical therapy, find pain management alternatives, or speak to a mental health professional, our work has been worth it.
How can you help during this time? If you find a method or option for medical care, please share it with us. It may be an option that we don’t know about and we can use it to help another client. If your find that our information about a provider is inaccurate or needs to be updated, please let us know. Sharing information will help everyone during this time.
We are grateful that our computer system has allowed us to work remotely. (I still pick up the mail and make sure the computers are on). During this time, we want our focus to remain on you, how to move your medical care and your life forward even while you stay at home.
In response to the continuing pandemic, Congress passed-and the President signed-an unprecedented series of laws designed to help people effected by the COVID-19 crisis. The following is intended as a brief summary of these benefits and how they can apply in workers’ compensation cases, as well as generally. READ MORE
Introduced on March 6, 2020 and extended for at least 30 days on April 5, 2020, BCBSNC offers telehealth coverage, which includes appointments with primary care providers, specialists, behavioral health providers, and any NC licensed providers who can provide services via secure video or telephone.
An extensive six-part overview of telehealth policies and procedures is available at this BCBSNC website: https://www.bluecrossnc.com/provider-news/covid-19-telehealth-update-and-details-how-stay-date
BCBSNC also provides this webpage, https://blog.bcbsnc.com/2020/02/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus/, to share details about telehealth options, which includes the following highlights.
Please call your doctor’s office and ask about virtual appointment options.
Rest assured knowing that we will cover telehealth services offered by in-network providers. Many members have additional telehealth benefits included in their plans.
If you are feeling unwell, call ahead before showing up in person. This will help prevent the spread of illness.
Look for MDLive or Teladoc listed on the back of your member identification card and call for more information.
All virtual visits must be medically necessary and meet the qualifying criteria.
Cigna offers telehealth benefits to “eligible” patients through its Cigna Telehealth Connection option.
Telehealth coverage options may vary depending on whether a patient’s policy is an individual plan or through an employer.
To learn more details, members must sign in here to begin the process: https://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/member-resources/telehealth-connection-program
Cigna’s website provides this information:
Depending on your plan and location, eligible Cigna customers can connect 24/7 with board-certified doctors, licensed clinicians, or nurses through online video chat or phone.
While many telehealth benefits and treatable “conditions” are listed on Cigna’s website, Physical Therapy is not one of those listed.
UHC’s website https://www.uhc.com/health-and-wellness/health-topics/covid-19/telehealth-options has multiple pages that explain its expanded access to telehealth visits.
Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members can continue to access their existing telehealth benefit offered through one of our designated partners, without cost-sharing.
For members with a telehealth benefit through their employer-sponsored plan, cost-sharing will be waived until June 18, 2020. UHC encourages customers to review their health plan account to review specific telehealth benefits at this site: https://www.uhc.com/sign-in
Starting March 31, 2020 until June 18, 2020, UnitedHealthcare will waive cost-sharing for in-network, non-COVID-19 telehealth visits for its Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans.
UHC’s website indicates the company will work with self-funded customers who want to implement a similar approach.
The company previously announced it would waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits related to COVID-19 testing, in addition to waiving cost-sharing for 24/7 Virtual Visits with preferred telehealth partners.
If you have questions about your benefits, sign in to your health plan account or call the number on your member ID card.
During this time when limiting the spread of COVID-19 is critical, virtual therapy makes it possible for patients to continue their recovery safely, without ever leaving home.
Virtual physical therapy is an ideal fit for many patients, whether recovering from injuries, surgery or chronic conditions.
Through video visits on a smartphone or computer, you can visit with your doctor or physical therapist remotely.
This safe and secure technology allows patients to progress toward their pain-management and physical goals, with support from their therapist, all while minimizing social contact.
In most cases, therapists can meet more than 90 percent of a patient’s therapy needs through individualized at-home exercise and stretching programs.
For an overview of telehealth at OrthoCarolina, copy and paste this link in your URL bar:
Make an Appointment by copying and pasting this link in your URL bar: https://www.orthocarolina.com/contact-us
The most ideal circumstances for video visits include:
– Patients who were seen at OrthoCarolina for the same body part within the last three years
– Flare ups of a previous injury
– Some MRI follow ups, as deemed appropriate
– Certain post-operative visits (note: suture or staple removal requires an in-person visit)
Broken bones or other emergent cases that require imaging, such as X-Rays, need to be evaluated in person.
While not every problem can be firmly diagnosed in a video visit, there are many diagnoses your provider can rule in or out to determine the best next step.
Telehealth visits are accessible from your phone, tablet or computer with a microphone and camera. A member of the OrthoCarolina team will attempt to call you within 24 – 48 hours to schedule your virtual visit.
Copy and paste this link in your URL bar to schedule an appointment. https://www.orthocarolina.com/video-appointment or call the Video Visit Help Desk at 704.323.2407
Here’s how it works:
To schedule a telehealth appointment, it’s best to call your local office, as they will know each therapist’s schedule and availability for teleconferencing.
For a list of offices near you, cut and paste this link in your URL bar.
On that call, your provider or physical therapy team will determine if you are applicable for and interested in a video visit. If a video visit is scheduled, these will be your next steps:
Worker’s Compensation telehealth appointments are done on an individual case basis. To schedule a telehealth appointment, call the Worker’s Compensation department at 704-323-2667. As the department is working remotely, clients will need to leave a message and expect to have a call returned within 24 hours. The Worker’s Compensation department will send a request to the treating doctor’s nurse / team, who will determine whether to schedule an appointment.
According to the OrthoCarolina website, the telehealth conferencing will be done through Zoom. There is a Video visit help desk number (704) 323-2407, a Zoom FAQ link and a Zoom Help Center link that we can look at to provide the clients with additional information if necessary.
At the time this overview was written, ATR did not have telehealth information clearly posted on its website. However, ATR’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AyrsleyRehab/) did provide this post:
Ayrsley Town Rehabilitation is now offering Telehealth. If you are a current patient or a former patient who has some questions, please feel free to reach out to us at Fio@ayrsleyrehab.com to set up your appointment.
We are currently able to offer Telehealth services to those who have BCBSNC, CIGNA, RPN and Private Pay.
If you have another insurance provider, please contact them to encourage them to join their colleges and support telehealth physical therapy CPT codes.
If you are an injured worker on Workman’s Compensation, please call your nurse case manager, adjuster or law representative to encourage them to support telehealth with your current PT provider.
Benchmark is offering “Tele-Therapy” for existing and new patients, using computers, tablets or smartphones, via the RingCentral app.
Ring Central Meetings connects people for a video conference. Benchmark will send you an email link to the Meeting Conference. You may have to download the Ring Central Meeting Application for the best results, but no personal information is required. You simply click on the link and follow the prompts. You will need a device with a camera and a microphone for the conference.
Patients can learn more and schedule an appointment by clicking through to this site:
Patients will also find a Frequently Asked Question page, which answers various questions including the pricing for those patients whose insurance does not cover virtual office visits.
Novant Health, including Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Services, is taking a proactive stance to help patients remotely by offering two options: Video Visits and E-Visits.
Importantly, to use any of these services patients need to have a “Novant My Chart “account. There are links available on the Novant website to create this account.
Highlights of Novant’s E-visits are as follows:
Highlights of Novant’s Video Visits (via the Zoom application) are as follows:
Novant is working with insurance companies to cover the costs of these services, sometimes waiving upfront payments until further notice. The information below is posted on Novant’s website:
Insurance coverage for our virtual care visits varies based on your plan and benefits structure. During the current state of emergency, coverage is being extended and upfront payments are waived until further notice.
To learn more and schedule an appointment, click this link:
Phoenix is offering telehealth appointments for patients needing physical, occupational or speech therapy via computer, tablet or smartphone.
The company website https://www.phoenixrehab.com/telehealth/ provides a handful of broad, general details regarding costs, policies and clinic locations.
For clients needing to communicate with people they cannot meet with in person, a helpful tool is a video conferencing service called Zoom. This service can be used on either your computer or mobile device. Other services such as Ring Central, Join Me, or Web Ex also provide video conferencing.
Zoom began in 2011, but has recently become very popular as a method to bring people together with on-screen video and audio conferencing.
To use Zoom for telehealth appointments, ask your health care provider to send you an email invitation with a “Join Zoom Meeting” link within the email. This process will make it very simple for you to use, without requiring you to join Zoom. You simply click on the “Join Zoom Meeting” link that your health care provider emails you, then you follow prompts to download and launch the application.
This link explains the process in a one-minute video.
Remember – joining a meeting does not require that you subscribe to the service. You can simply participate in a meeting, without providing detailed personal information.
However, if you want to initiate or “host” Zoom meetings, then you will need to subscribe and register for your own account. There’s no cost for a Basic Account, and it’s very easy to register. Go to this site and click on the “Sign Up for Free” tab. https://zoom.us
To learn more, link here for some quick and easy videos. https://zoom.us/resources
The video titled “Joining & Configuring Audio/Video” is a great place to start.
There is also a Frequently Asked Questions page you may find helpful: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206175806-Frequently-Asked-Questions
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Frequently Asked Questions from Healthcare Providers
Are Telehealth Visits Allowed by the Industrial Commission in Workers’
Neither the Workers’ Compensation Act nor any Industrial Commission Rules
Can Evaluation & Management Telehealth Visits be Billed under the Industrial
Commission’s Workers’ Compensation Fee Schedule?
Evaluation & Management visits conducted via telehealth can be billed using the
same Evaluation & Management codes that are used for an in-person office visit,
except that “02” should be used as the “Place of Service” code. For any services
with CPT codes that do not have a specific fee schedule amount, the charges
would be paid per agreement between the carrier and medical provider.
What if a Carrier or Third-Party Administrator Refuses to Authorize a Telehealth
As with any dispute regarding medical treatment, the injured employee may file a
medical motion with the Industrial Commission asking the Commission to order
the carrier or third-party administrator to authorize and pay for the telehealth
“Our continued priority is the safety of the public and the safety of our court personnel,” said Chief Justice Beasley. “Delaying filing and other deadlines reduces the number of people who must come into our county courthouses every day. We are monitoring the guidance of public health officials and our team is working around the clock to help local officials move cases forward in a way that is safe and respects the rights and liberties of everyone who depends on us.”
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has taken several other emergency steps to help stop the spread of the coronavirus:
In light of this rapidly evolving public health situation, the Judicial Branch will provide continuously updated information on our website, NCcourts.gov. The public is encouraged to visit NCcourts.gov as a first resort to determine if a question can be answered without calling the local courthouse. If you have a question about your court case, please first view the county page in which the case is filed for any local announcements, as well as the closings and advisories page, then, if needed, contact the clerk of superior court office before you go to the courthouse. The public may also visit the Judicial Branch Facebook page and Twitter account to access information related to the coronavirus health concern.
Healthcare workers are obviously at the top of the list of workers at risk. Other positions may not be as obvious, such as solid waste and wastewater management employees, who are included on the list.
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/. Fortunately, most workers in the US have a very low risk of exposure to COVID-19 at their job.
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html. We encourage calm and lots of handwashing.
To our valued clients:
I hope you are safe and well. Despite the uncertain and stressful time that we are having, the Ramsay Law Firm is still open and ready to help with your workers’ compensation or personal injury case. We are currently still offering the option of an office visit, as long as you are well, but recommend telephone conferences or video conferences instead.
Please be advised that the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) has canceled worker’s compensation hearings for March and April. Mediation between now and April 12th must be conducted remotely. Our staff will be in touch with you if this change applies to your case.
The NCIC staff is working remotely. We are unsure if this will cause any delays in receiving decisions or Orders. We are hopeful that because hearings have been canceled, decisions may be issued more quickly. Many insurance companies, defense law firms, and other companies are either working remotely or with a reduced staff. We have more difficulty getting people on the phone, but continue to be persistent electronically.
We are doing our part with Social Distancing, which means that we will keep a respectful distance and refrain from shaking hands. We are also being very diligent and thorough in our cleaning and disinfecting of the office after each visitor. We have taken steps to prepare for our employees work from home, should the need arise, in order to maintain the support necessary for you and your claim. Of course, we always remain available via telephone.
Doctor’s offices remain open and if you and your family are well, we encourage you to continue to seek the treatment you need for your injury. Hand washing before and after any doctor’s visit will be very important. Getting good rest, finding ways to relax and laugh should also be high on your list. Please stay safe and don’t hesitate to give us a call at 704-376-1616 if we can help.
Injured Workers Pharmacy (IWP) is our preferred workers’ compensation pharmacy that my firm has worked with for many years. As a courtesy and to maintain social distancing from the COVID-19 outbreak, I ask that you please consider using IWP for your workers’ compensation prescription medications.
IWP will deliver your medications directly to your home, allowing you to receive critical access to necessary treatment without ever having to leave. With IWP, you will not pay upfront or out-of-pocket for your medications and their dedicated team of Pharmacists will help you with any questions you may have. I suggest using IWP as an alternative option to your local retail pharmacy while the country tries to minimize the spread of the virus.
If you wish to finalize your enrollment in their program, please reach out to them at 888-295-4005. Should you have any questions please feel free to contact my office.