The field of telemedicine is currently thriving. Medical practices of all sizes are increasingly turning to telemedicine to be able to cater to more patients, keep the costs of healthcare delivery down and provide the treatment in the form that is preferable to the patients.
With coronavirus driving telemedicine mainstream and more and more healthcare practices switching to virtual care, understanding the right way of implementing telemedicine is more important than ever.
Telemedicine has come a long way from the simple audio/video conferencing platforms between the providers and patients. In order to make the most of the technology and ensure that the return on investment on getting started on a telemedicine platform remains high, it is essential to know how to use telemedicine effectively.
Here’s a complete guide to incorporating telemedicine within your practice workflow and maximizing on the effectiveness of its implementation. Let’s get started.
1. Have the end goal in sight
What do you aim to accomplish by adding telemedicine to your practice?
- Extending the facility of virtual consultations to existing patients
- Catering to a whole new target audience for your practice
- Extending delivery of healthcare service in rural and remote areas
- Using technology for follow-up appointments and remote patient monitoring
- Making specialist referrals possible virtually
- Decreasing patient no-shows and streamlining appointments
- Increasing revenue for your healthcare practice
- Eliminating long wait times and increasing patient satisfaction.
The reason for you choosing to implement telemedicine may be a combination of the above or it can be for a totally different reason. However, defining it beforehand can help setting benchmarks from the get-go itself.
It also makes measuring the success of telemedicine implementation possible at a later stage, helping you in judging the effectiveness of it.
2. Decide on the features to be included in the telemedicine platform
Before you can go and start a telemedicine business for your practice, you need to decide on what type of telemedicine platform you need and what are the must-have features that you require.
If you are planning to have real-time patient-provider consultations, synchronous telemedicine platform is the way forward. Conversely, if you plan on data based diagnosis which involves transmission of patient data, store-and-forward telemedicine or asynchronous telemedicine is what your practice really needs.
What features do you need to get started? While having a feature rich telemedicine app might seem lucrative before you switch to telemedicine, iterative development is always going to be a more rewarding strategy in the long run.
Select the features that you deem as must-have. Those which are crucial to the functioning of your application. The any telemedicine platform includes a patient-facing application, a provider application and an admin panel. Make sure that the full suite of telemedicine app features that you deem necessary are covered in the requirements.
Once you have a primary feature list ready, then add the nice-to-have features. The latter would be covered in the second phase of development. This results in a better utilization of resources and a scalable process that has you poised for success. Having a clear vision from the beginning also helps you avoid scope creeps and delays in the implementation process.
3. Get your staff on the same page
The implementation of telemedicine within your practice can never be a success unless your staff is on the same page as you are. Involving your team early on in the telemedicine implementation and getting them in on the pilot can get them more invested in its success.
Enable two way conversations with your staff. This would allow you to bring them up to speed about the upcoming changes in the medical practice and help them adjust better. It would also help you in getting to know what their expectations from telemedicine implementation are, and how you can make sure to meet them.
Train your team about the basics of the telemedicine platform and empower them to troubleshoot any minor issues that may crop up. Make sure to collect the feedback from the providers as well as patients. Log any issues that they might be facing, details about the network and device use history, what they like about the telemedicine visit and what they dislike. All this information will play a vital role in enhancing the telemedicine platform even further.
4. Be up to speed on the legal and regulatory requirements
Telemedicine laws vary from state to state. With the coronavirus pandemic, there have been relaxations in the legal and regulatory technicalities associated with telemedicine. However, it is best to stay updated on what the requirements are. Find out what licenses are required for each state that you are planning on offering your services to.
Find out what the current reimbursement rules for telemedicine are. Research the parity laws as per the state you are looking to practice in.
Since telemedicine platforms involve storage and transmission of patient data, you need to ensure compliance to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that safeguards the privacy and security of patient health information (PHI). Ensuring safety protocols while storing or transmitting sensitive patient information is of paramount importance when switching to telemedicine.
5. Partner with the right developers
The right team to develop the telemedicine platform for your practice can be the difference between the success or failure of your project. Seasoned healthcare developers with years of specialized expertise in developing telemedicine applications are already familiar with the intricacies of the development process.
The years of experience ensures a robust development process that gives you your desired results: a telemedicine platform that offers a seamless user experience and integrates effortlessly with your existing practice.
Having developed telemedicine platforms for well-established hospitals to up-and-coming medical startups, Fortify Telehealth is the partner that your practice needs to take it digital. Get in touch for a consultation with our telemedicine experts today.