Integrating virtual care into your practice allows you to capitalize on a major shift: telehealth as a preferred component of care delivery for your patients. Telehealth services can empower you to take advantage of the instances when your patients don’t require an in-person visit. Implementing virtual care can save you (and patients) time and costs, drive efficiencies, and improve health outcomes.
At this major inflection point in healthcare, here are seven steps to help your practice create an approach to telehealth that works within a comprehensive modern practice solution. By integrating telehealth services into your overall practice growth strategy, you’ll be responding to the shift currently in progress, to maintain and continue growing a successful business.
1. Identify the overarching telehealth goals for your practice. To identify these goals, think about the intersection between your greatest areas of need at your practice, and your greatest areas of opportunity.
- Where could telehealth make the most impact?
- What are the areas of opportunity where telehealth can drive the greatest benefits? Improved health outcomes for patients, cost and time savings, a better provider experience?
2. Based on your answer to the above question, set measurable goals for telehealth in your practice. Then, determine your key performance indicators by reviewing the following questions:
- How much patient volume do you expect to add to your practice?
- Will you aim to reduce no-shows at your practice with telehealth? By how much?
- How many telehealth visits would you like to schedule per day, per provider?
- Will your practice focus on using telehealth to improve adherence for your at-risk patients?
3. Assign a point person at your practice to organize and oversee telehealth activities and information. The point person will:
- Identify and present any telehealth issues on a daily basis, along with suggestions for improvement.
- Closely track and report back on your key telehealth key performance indicators.
- Monitor for any telehealth regulatory or legal changes within the healthcare industry.
4. Establish your practice ‘tele-triage’ protocol. The protocol sets up guidelines for a telehealth visit to determine if a patient should have a follow-up in-person appointment. This is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic to limit contact with patients who are feeling symptomatic. Share your protocol with providers to maintain consistency within your practice. Factors to consider include:
- Whether a patient has an emergency condition.
- If a patient has been delaying a procedure or health protocol.
- Recommendations for a patient to arrive at your practice or visit another care facility such as a testing site.
5. Make time to meet with your providers and office staff to review your practice goals regarding telehealth use. Use the time to:
- Set expectations for the telehealth workflow.
- Answer any questions from staff about telehealth.
- Allow each member of your team to understand and explore how they will incorporate telehealth visits into their day.
- Train as needed on the telehealth technologies your practice uses.
6. Document any modified telehealth workflow steps for telehealth and share the updates with staff. This may include a review of the telehealth action steps that are handled differently than in-person visits, such as:
- Patient registration or intake
- Greeting the patient
- Procedures in the telehealth ‘waiting room’
- Requesting telehealth payment
7. Revisit and refine your telehealth goals on a regular basis, and update your practice plan. As telehealth becomes a regular part of your schedule and workflow, and as healthcare requirements and regulations change, be prepared to evolve your practice telehealth goals. During review sessions, address the following:
- Which telehealth regulations and requirements have changed within our state?
- Which telehealth requirements have evolved within the healthcare industry?
- What new telehealth technologies are available?
- What do patients expect from telehealth now and in the future?