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03/27/2020

Wolf Administration Encourages Use of Telemedicine Access for Centers of Excellence Patients

Harrisburg, PA - The Department of Human Services (DHS) has issued guidance to the commonwealth’s opioid use disorder Centers of Excellence (COEs) to provide case management to clients through telemedicine in order for clients throughout COVID-19 mitigation efforts.  

“We know that this time is difficult, especially for those struggling with opioid use disorder, and we want to be sure that we are continuing to safely provide services to the Pennsylvanians who rely on Centers of Excellence,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “Telemedicine will help Pennsylvanians practice social distancing while ensuring that they are able to continue to engage with their COE.”

Under this guidance, opioid use disorder COE care management services do not need to be provided in person face-to-face as long as Governor Wolf’s emergency disaster declaration remains in effect. Sufficient office and clinic hours must remain available to meet the needs of new patients and established patients who either do not choose or cannot use telemedicine or receive services in their homes.

Telemedicine can be delivered through audio-video conferencing hosted by a secure mobile telehealth application or, if a secure telehealth app is not available, apps like FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom can be used. During this state of emergency, telephone-only services may be utilized in situations where video technology is not available. COE providers will be able to bill for payment as if the telemedicine or telephonic encounter had taken place in person.

DHS has previously issued guidance to Medicaid-enrolled providers and managed care organizations that encourages the use of telemedicine as a way of mitigating the spread of COVID-19 through reduced person-to-person contact, which can be read here. Guidance for behavioral health providers is available here

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin James - 717-425-7606

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