News - 29th April 2020
Dear Village Therapy families,
As we are now starting to settle in to our new ‘normal’, I’d like to update you on some of the things we are doing (and not doing) as the pandemic isolating continues. Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to our team of amazing therapists and our admin team who have worked so very hard over the past few weeks, and continue to cope with each day’s new challenges with patience, flexibility and optimism. I would also like to thank you, our VT families, for your patience and understanding as we have been forced to react to new circumstances every day, meaning that we don’t always immediately know the answers to your questions.
In this update I will be discussing the following information:
- Communication of new information
- NDIS changes in response to COVID-19
- Cancellation policy
- Medicare and Private Health claims for online therapy, and,
- Online therapy consent forms
Communication of new information
At the moment, we are all being bombarded with information about the virus and people’s responses to it. It feels like every place I have ever shopped wants to send me an email to tell me the measures they are taking. But when there is so much information being sent out, it can become difficult to sift out the relevant things, and we can miss information we want to know about. To help you see the things that are important about your therapy service, we are no longer going to send out long, individual emails. We will post service updates on the landing page of the VT website and on our Facebook page. We recommend that you follow our Facebook page to stay informed about what is happening at the clinic. We will also add a link to the website to within your text message reminders whenever there is new information posted to the website. Hopefully by communicating with you in these ways it will help our important information to cut through the rest of the ‘noise’ that is currently clogging up our inboxes.
So remember – keep your eye on Facebook and our website that we‘ll link you to from a text message.
The NDIS has announced a range of measures to try and make sure that service providers are able to stay open and keep helping participants during the COVID crisis. These included allowing providers to increase their prices by 10%, charging 100% for cancellations and allowing a cancellation notice period of up to 10 days. We have decided that we do not currently need to adopt any of these measures. As long as families continue to use our online services, we hope that the impact on the business will not require these changes. However, if the last month has taught us anything, it is that we can’t predict the future. So, whilst we are not making any of these adjustments now, we cannot guarantee that we may not need to adopt some or all of these measures in the coming months. As always, we will communicate with you clearly should there be any changes.
In the initial stages of the move to online therapy we made a temporary adjustment to our cancellation policy as we all tried to get a clearer picture of how our new lives worked. Now that we are fully transferred to delivering therapy online, we are have returned to our usual cancellation policy. All cancellations must be received by 3pm the day before, or 90% of the fee will be charged. Thanks in advance for complying with this policy, which helps the clinic to run smoothly.
Medicare and Private Health Claims for Online Therapy (Telehealth)
Firstly, I want you to know that the regulations and information about these claims are currently changing every few days. The Village Therapy team are receiving updates as soon as any changes are announced, so we will try to guide you through this space. But please be patient with us as we try to change our systems and information with each new announcement.
Medicare has released item numbers to cover telehealth sessions. The rebate for these sessions is $53.80, the same amount for items previously charged under a Chronic Disease Management (CDM) plan. From April 20th, these appointments no longer have the requirement to be bulk billed, so thankfully, clients will again be able to claim Medicare rebates. Please make sure to let your therapist know if you have a Medicare referral.
Private Health Fund claims
Each health fund is responding to telehealth claims differently. Some are placing regulations on the length of sessions, others allowing some professions to offer online therapy but not others, some require different codes for online sessions and some are not offering rebates for telehealth at all. This is a bit of an administrative nightmare for us, as it means that our invoicing system will require different items for every single private health fund. So, we need your help! If you would like to claim using private health, can you please check with your health fund BEFORE your appointment and ask if you are covered and what requirements have to be met for you to be able to claim. Then please call one of our super admin team members on 9811 7026 and let them know the details. This way we can ensure that we meet the service requirements and also that we send you a receipt that your fund will accept. If you do not contact reception prior to your session, your therapist might need to cut your session short to allow themselves the time to search for information about your health fund online.
Online Therapy Consent Forms
In order to stay in compliance with Australian law, we will need to have all clients give consent to receive an online service. We are currently working out the best way to collect signatures remotely, and will be in touch shortly for you to sign an additional consent form.
On behalf of the Village Therapy team, I would like to wish you all the best as you settle in to work and school from home for the term. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for new developments as we continue to work on ways to help support our clients.