As the battle against COVID-19 continues on a global scale, almost everything has changed about day-to-day life, from the way we work and communicate to our interactions with doctors.
With so many changes happening so quickly—and many more likely on the horizon—it’s essential to adapt in order to keep up during a crisis. For pharmacists and the communities they serve, these changes are already readily apparent and will no doubt continue to evolve rapidly. In this article, we’ll review the impact COVID-19 has had on pharmaceutical efficacy, patient satisfaction, and medical billing.
How COVID-19 Has Changed the Way We Measure Efficacy
COVID-19, or coronavirus, has dramatically changed the way in which pharmaceutical efficacy is measured. What would normally take several years is now being fast-tracked, with researchers working around the clock to bring a new vaccine to market.
LJ Tan, who serves as chief strategy officer at the Immunization Action Coalition, highlighted how quickly scientists are developing a COVID-19 vaccine compared to typical timelines:
“Traditional vaccine development, through all its phases, can take 10, 15, sometimes 20 years, and can cost at least $800 million dollars or even more. When you build in all the costs to build the manufacturing facility, the equipment, the quality control that goes into this, the figure can go way over $1 billion to bring a vaccine from development all the way through to market.”
Factors that will play a role in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) issuance of the emergency authorization will include how well the vaccine works, how safe it appears to be, and the level of coronavirus cases circulating. Safety and efficacy claims are likely to come from adaptive trials and real-world evidence, which are less traditional than typical methods. Essentially, real-world evidence will have to take the place of the usual long-term research, clinical trials, and data to expedite the process.
Peter Marks, who runs the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, explained how the process will likely play out:
“What that will really mean from the FDA perspective is working with the various sponsors of the vaccines to most efficiently look at their preclinical data, understand as much as we can about the characteristics of these vaccines, and help people develop plans that are most efficient at understanding whether their candidates will get to the level of protection that would really warrant carrying them forward, because, frankly, vaccine candidates that have very low efficacy or not tremendous efficacy, in this particular case, could just distract from capacity for more robust candidates to come forward.”
A New Normal: What Coronavirus Means for Patient Satisfaction
Despite the spread of COVID-19, patient satisfaction is on the rise. In fact, it looks very different now than it did at the end of 2019, with patient satisfaction with overall care quality already up by 13 percent. This shift is largely due to the rapid expansion of telehealth services, with changes to Medicare coverage making it more widely available.
As a result, two-thirds of respondents say that COVID-19 has increased their willingness to try telehealth in the future because it offers an intimate experience, is more convenient for patients, and demonstrates responsible behavior during a global pandemic. While the future remains uncertain, we can expect this trend to continue growing in popularity on the other side of the coronavirus crisis.
Now pharmacists, physicians, and other care providers are left wondering: What does COVID-19 mean for patient satisfaction, not to mention value-based care? While right now it’s anyone’s best guess, it’s clear that coronavirus is reshaping the patient experience and will continue to do so.
Choosing Medical Billing Software During the COVID-19 Pandemic
What exactly do all these changes mean for medical billing? Changes to care delivery, prescribing habits, and billing codes all have a significant impact on medical billing—which is why the software you choose is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some of the medical billing changes happening as a result of coronavirus:
Changes to Prescribing Habits
Social distancing efforts have changed the way that doctors write prescriptions. A survey found that nearly 40 percent of physicians have changed prescribing habits to minimize risk, by writing longer prescriptions and prescribing treatments without an in-person consultation. Your medical billing solution needs to be able to adapt seamlessly to changes in prescribing habits to avoid delays.
New Medical Billing Codes
As a result of the pandemic, there are new medical billing codes and modifiers for telehealth services as well as COVID-19 testing, therapies, and potential vaccines. With so many new areas to code for, you need access to medical billing technology you can rely on to support you during the transition.
Expanding Pharmacy Services
Many pharmacies are now setting up to offer COVID-19 testing and to administer vaccines when they become available. The right medical billing software can help optimize reimbursement for any services, equipment, supplies, and medications you provide for patients in your community.
It’s also worth noting that a number of insurance companies are waiving open enrollment restrictions and expanding coverage for telehealth. For example, existing limitations on Medicare telehealth services are temporarily waived under the COVID-19 public health emergency legislation. As telehealth coverage policies continue to evolve on almost a daily basis, the importance of choosing a medical billing solution you can trust becomes even clearer.
Pharmacists need peace of mind that changes like these will be accounted for in their medical billing software, which is why your vendor choice matters. Here are some of the must-haves to look for in medical billing software:
- Frequent updates to align with the evolving COVID-19 crisis
- Tools and capabilities to bill for telepharmacy services
- Electronic insurance coverage verification to avoid treatment delays
- Ability to optimize reimbursements for services and supplies
- Access to customer support when you run into issues or errors
- Integration with your existing pharmacy management system
- Comprehensive reporting to track claims and generate reports
- Optimization for clinical care services, like flu shots and diagnostic testing
With so much changing at a rapid pace, pharmacists need medical billing technology they can count on to navigate such an overwhelming time. To find your compass in this storm, request a demo of FDS MedBill, a low-cost medical billing solution designed specifically with pharmacies in mind.