Today, many medical practitioners have turned to telemedicine because it helps cut down on overhead expenses, reduce exposure to infections, increase patient satisfaction, and create an additional revenue stream for healthcare practitioners. Telemedicine is also beneficial to patients as it is more convenient, easily accessible, and affordable. With the abundance of telemedicine technology today, it’s possible for medical practitioners to offer top-notch consultations and monitor their patients remotely. This guide will show you how to integrate telemedicine into your current medical practice successfully.
1. Define Your Goals and Develop a Plan
It’s essential you have clear goals for your telemedicine program from the onset. Think about how you want your telemedicine program to impact aspects of your practice like yearly revenue, patient retention, employee efficiency, or the number of new patients you have. Be specific about the goals you want to achieve and write them down.
After defining your goals, it’s time to draw a plan. Think about how you will combine your telemedicine visits with physical consultations. For example, you can dedicate some days of the week for virtual consultations and conducting follow-up calls with remote patients. Alternatively, you can conduct your telehealth visits during off-hours. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for implementing telemedicine in an existing practice. All you need is to develop a plan that fits your schedule and your patients’ unique needs. Consider involving your patients by finding out if they would be more comfortable with telehealth visits and the kind of telemedicine services they’d be most interested in. You can have them fill out questionnaires or simply ask verbally.
2. Get Your Staff Involved
Since telemedicine will be changing different aspects of your medical office’s routine, it’s important to involve your staff early. This will enable you to get their support and guarantee a seamless implementation of telehealth in your practice.
You can build a team of providers and administrative personnel who will take charge of the telemedicine aspect of your practice. They can schedule appointments and provide technical assistance to ensure the program runs smoothly. Consider asking your staff if they foresee any technical or logistical issues that may arise while running telehealth visits with in-person scheduling. Also, ask them for suggestions on how to tackle such problems or prevent them from occurring.
3. Familiarize Yourself With Relevant State Regulations
You should familiarize yourself with government regulations about telehealth before starting it in your practice. State laws may limit the location of patients you can see remotely, your mode of telehealth practice, and whether you must already have an established relationship with a patient before prescribing medications for them.
You should also know about payer policies for telemedicine reimbursement in your state. Having this information from the onset will help you avoid legal problems in the future.
4. Consider the Technology Requirements
Telemedicine requires technology. So, for your telehealth setup, you’ll need a secure and fast internet connection. The amount and speed of your internet connection will determine the rate of data transfer during your virtual consultations and the video quality.
Also, you need to find the right technology partner for your calls. There are several video communication platforms in the market, but you shouldn’t just pick anyone for your telehealth practice. An ideal telehealth communication platform should comply with HIPAA rules and your state medical board regulations. It should also offer extensive tech support to you and your patients and implement security features to prevent cyber attacks.
Another feature you should look out for in a tech platform is its ability to integrate seamlessly with your electronic health records system. This is essential since you and your patients will need secure access to patient medical records. Of course, you’ll need medical translation services if your patient is a non-native English speaker.
5. Consider the Startup Costs and Return on Investment
Implementing a telehealth program is similar to starting a business because it requires capital and planning. So, consider your startup capital and return on investment from the onset. Most of the startup cost for telemedicine goes to the tech platform you’ll be using. But you may need to buy additional equipment like headphones, tablets, and computers. If your medical office doesn’t have enough employees for the telemedicine unit, you may need to hire additional staff to ensure the smooth implementation of your telehealth program.
After starting your telehealth program, it’s essential you measure its success periodically by checking to see if it’s helping you achieve your already-set goals. Also, reviewing your telehealth services will help you pinpoint areas that need improvement.
Infographic created by Doctor Alexa – online doctor visits