In today’s world, there are many different ways to provide healthcare. To meet the needs of patients, doctors and other healthcare providers are advancing beyond traditional care delivery models to more flexible choices that combine in-person care and virtual care solutions such as HIPAA-compliant telehealth video conferencing and remote patient monitoring.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors rapidly adopted telehealth solutions in order to continue providing care to their patients. While this has been an effective way to meet the immediate demands of the pandemic, there is an opportunity to do more. Moving forward, the greatest opportunity for telehealth is to expand from small-scale initiatives to a systemic and standard approach to providing care.
While many doctors and health care organizations have swiftly adopted telehealth solutions, others have been slow to do so. Several reasons for the slow adaption of telehealth services by some providers include concerns about potential negative impacts on quality of care, provider productivity, and reimbursement.
It is important to consider the impact of telehealth solutions on the four main components of the care delivery model: access, cost, quality, and outcomes.
- Access: Telehealth solutions can improve access to care by enabling providers to see more patients remotely. This can help reduce wait times and appointment cancellations and improve access to care for patients in rural and underserved areas.
- Cost: Telehealth solutions can help reduce the cost of care by reducing travel time and expenses for both patients and providers. In addition, telehealth services can be delivered at a lower cost than in-person visits, making them more affordable for patients.
- Quality: Telehealth can improve the quality of care by providing patients with access to more specialists and allowing for more frequent follow-up visits. In addition, telehealth services can help reduce the risk of complications.
- Outcomes: Telehealth services can help improve patient outcomes by providing timely access to care, improving communication between doctors and patients, and increasing patient engagement in their own care.
Challenges of Telehealth
There are some challenges of telehealth services that need to be addressed. One challenge is the lack of standardization among telehealth providers. This can make it difficult for patients to know what to expect from their provider and how to best use the services. In addition, there is a lack of evidence-based guidelines for telehealth care, making it difficult for providers to know how to utilize the technology best.
Another key challenge is ensuring that telehealth solutions are interoperable with existing health care systems and processes. This includes integrating them into electronic health records (EHRs) and other clinical decision support tools. In addition, organizations need to consider how digital health solutions will impact workflow and provider training.
Despite these challenges, telehealth is a promising technology that has the potential to improve access to care and patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. Telehealth can also help provider organizations better manage their resources and optimize care delivery. As such, it is important for healthcare organizations to consider how they can best utilize telehealth to improve patient care and achieve their organizational goals.
A comprehensive telehealth program will include combinations that are effective for acute or chronic conditions–and offered in any setting, from an office visit to homebound therapy sessions.
Implementing Telehealth Services
Get the Team Onboard
Implementing telehealth services can be a daunting task for any organization. To ensure its success, it is essential to get support from all team members. The best way to do this is to open up a dialogue about the benefits of telehealth and the risks of not implementing it.
Communicating openly and honestly about the impact of telehealth and telemedicine will help build trust and credibility with your team. This will lead to greater buy-in and a smoother transition to a new way of delivering healthcare.
It is essential that health care organizations have a plan in place to ensure the continuity and success of their program as the demand for telehealth services continues to grow. Staff should be provided with the appropriate tools and resources needed to provide these services effectively.
Organizations that offer telehealth services need to track and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to ensure that their services are meeting the needs of both patients and providers. By tracking KPIs, organizations can identify opportunities for improvement and address them quickly. Some of the KPIs that should be tracked include patient satisfaction scores, provider satisfaction scores, number of appointments scheduled, number of appointments completed, and no-show rates. By regularly reviewing these KPIs and sharing progress with staff, organizations can ensure that their telehealth services are meeting the needs of all stakeholders.
Choose the Right Telemedicine Software
With so many telemedicine software options on the market, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a telemedicine software:
- Ease of use: You want easy software for you and your patients. Look for software with a simple interface that is easy to navigate.
- Functionality: Ensure the software has all the needed features, such as appointment scheduling, video conferencing, and electronic medical records integration.
- Pricing: Telemedicine software can be costly, so be sure to compare pricing before making a purchase. Many software providers offer free trials, so you can test the software before making a purchase.
- Reimbursement capability: The number of states that allow reimbursement for telemedicine services is continuing to grow. For those states that do allow reimbursement, each telemedicine visit needs to be well-documented to be reimbursed. Quality telemedicine software enables healthcare providers to document the patient encounter and then submit the record for reimbursement.
By considering these factors, you can be sure to choose the right telemedicine software for your needs.
Develop a Telehealth Policy and Define Procedures
As any business owner knows, having a clear set of policies and procedures is essential for ensuring that your employees can do their jobs effectively. Not only do they provide clear guidance for how your internal processes should be carried out, but they also help ensure that everyone is on the same page when making decisions. When implementing a new care model, it is therefore important to create a set of policies and procedures that will help standardize your services and increase staff compliance. While outlining telehealth service guidelines is an excellent first step, it is also important to monitor for adherence to ensure that your new care model is followed consistently. Taking these measures can help ensure that your new care model is successful.
Train Staff on “Webside Manners”
A recent study found that patients who had a negative experience with telehealth were less likely to continue using the service. The quality of the patient-provider interaction is crucial to overall health outcomes. In person, patients and providers can pick up on subtle cues that are difficult to communicate via video conference. And while telehealth offers many advantages in terms of convenience and accessibility, it’s important to remember that it’s not a replacement for in-person care. When used correctly, however, telehealth can be a powerful tool for improving patient engagement and adherence. By investing in training for providers to make sure they are comfortable in front of the camera, and delivering an effective “webside manner,” you can help ensure that patients have a positive experience and continue to use the service long-term.