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Physician practices should consider these five major categories of capabilities to examine in any telehealth solution.
Telehealth has become a necessity in today’s medical practices. During the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen telehealth emerge as a critical tool in screening patients with potential symptoms, answering questions, and serving as a virtual urgent care. In addition to COVID screening, telehealth has shown that it is an effective means to provide routine medical care to all patients—forever changing the healthcare landscape. If you are currently searching for a telehealth service to manage an influx of patients due to the current pandemic or just to better connect with your patients for continuity of care, it pays to examine what different telehealth solutions can provide for your practice. Based on all that we’ve learned over the years in setting up practices of all sizes—from smaller, single physicians to larger, multi-specialty practices, and even some of the largest hospitals in the U.S.—we’d love to share those insights with you.
Here are five major categories of capabilities to examine in any telehealth solution you are considering:
When assessing whether a telehealth solution is the right one for your practice, you should first consider technical requirements. Is the platform HIPAA-compliant? Some are not and you could put your practice at risk if your solution is not set up to comply with HIPAA requirements both now and in the future. Also, can the telehealth provider support different departments, groups, or locations so that you can section them off and view them separately? Can your schedulers schedule visits for your providers? How are payments processed? The telehealth provider should have capability to handle the back-end payment processing in a safe and secure way with a verified, third-party payment portal to maintain secure payment processing. Another way to ensure that your telehealth solution is not just a ‘short term fix’ is to see if it has options in place to incorporate medical devices and at-home monitoring solutions like glucometers and blood pressure monitoring devices.
The most important question you can ask under this category is whether the telehealth solution you are considering is simple enough for providers and patients to understand and navigate easily. Can it be set up in a day? Is it simple to download and use just like any other consumer app? Avoid solutions with a lengthy onboarding process. This doesn’t have to be difficult!
Questions in this category should focus on whether a telehealth platform offers on-going staff training support, including training courses, individual or group sessions, online webinars, training manuals, and quick reference guides for your team. Does the telehealth provider you are considering give best practice guidelines for implementation and on-going usage? Does the telehealth provider have customer service support? Does the telehealth provider offer online resources for assistance?
Maybe a turnkey solution isn’t what your practice is looking for when it comes to telehealth providers right now. Maybe that is a feature of a telehealth solution for down the road and that’s ok! Ask questions around white label capabilities, including their ability to customize the app quickly and get it into the app stores within 5 days. This, too, shouldn’t be difficult to manage. White label capabilities may not be something you need today, but they may be something that you’ll need as you grow.
Any telehealth solution you are considering should fit seamlessly within your practice and support your patients as well. To that end, ask about the resources that the telehealth provider has that could help you drive awareness and usage of the telehealth platform that you’re implementing.
These are just a few considerations in the process of searching for and choosing the right telehealth solution for your practice. You should be sure that whichever solution you choose, the provider has adequately described how their service would work in your practice, that it can meet your requirements for all of your offered service areas, and that they are offering a turn-key solution to offer virtual visits to your existing patients.