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Optimizing Your Telehealth Application

Posted by Michael Greiwe, MD | August 28, 2018 |
Michael Greiwe, MD

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“There’s always somebody, and they’re just a call away – it gives me such peace of mind.”
Feedback from a telehealth patient cited in AARP the Magazine

If you’ve rolled out an EMR in your practice you know how important it is to get stakeholder buy-in before go-live. Maximizing software adoption in your practice means engaging your team in the success of your endeavor; without it, you simply won’t be as successful.

Software is a tool in the medical practice that helps you solve problems. In the case of telehealth, these problems are high practice overhead, workflow inefficiencies, patient access, low patient volumes, and satisfaction scores. Telehealth has been shown to improve a practice in all of these areas.

There are a lot of pieces that need put in place, though, before the software product can do what it was intended. Medical Economics calls this the “productivity paradox,” chiefly citing EMRs as failing to produce their promised efficiencies “for a decade or more.”

The problem, as we see it, is that any new technology is a disruptor, especially if the practice hasn’t carefully thought out the impact on workflows, marketing, billing, planning, training, and benchmarking. This article will look at the steps necessary to optimize a telehealth application to increase your ROI – faster.

Steps to Telehealth Optimization

“If we can start with the sickest patients and have the biggest impact financially, we can use that cash flow and move all the way back to primary prevention.”
Feedback from a physician currently providing telehealth services cited in AARP the Magazine

Pre-Implementation Strategy

The first step toward adding telehealth to your practice is to engage staff in the success of the venture by leading discussions about the telehealth rollout. If your practice is large, it’s best to establish a technology committee that can work directly with each internal department on maximizing deployment.

Typically, the OrthoLive telehealth deployment team will meet with teams to share best practices from our other orthopedic clients and help them through this process. While it may take more time up front to create these interactions, it will pay off both at go-live and after deployment.

Try thinking about the telehealth application in two ways:

● Ask yourselves what features of the application will be most appealing to patients. How will you roll-out these features so that the service will be utilized quickly and efficiently? What problems will it solve for your patients? What kinds of patients may not adapt as well to the service?

Consider how your workflows will change internally. Imagine a successful telehealth implementation and then work your way backward, mapping how workflows will change. Discuss the services provided, billing, and policy guidelines. What problems will telehealth solve for your practice? Work with your telehealth vendor to determine the steps necessary to implement to the product.

Here are some great questions to consider:

● Will the telehealth practice be offered only to existing patients, or new ones as well?

● What kinds of services in your practice could be offered via telehealth?

● Who will be the “ideal” patient for this visit?

● What are the reimbursement policies for private insurers in your region?

● What services will be treated under the telehealth visit?

● Does the current malpractice plan cover telehealth?

● What are available tools that you can use to market this new service?

Be sure that this process establishes benchmarks for the implementation. We recommend measuring outcomes by their impact on patients and staff. (Note that this includes physicians.) Adding a survey process at the end of each telemedicine visit, for example, and then reviewing the data each quarter, is one way to determine if the impact of the technology is continually improving. Some of the metrics tracked could include:

● The number of patients seen.

● The number of patients seen per office hour works.

● Teleheath per visit revenue average.

● The number of visits that simply wouldn’t have been followed up on or would have resulted in a phone call (such as test results).

● Average time of telehealth visit.

● Reimbursement tracking on appeals and denials.

At the end of these discussions, you will have developed a roadmap for implementation that will serve your practice – and your patients, well.

Training

Any new technology requires training. However, in the case of a telehealth application like OrthoLive, very little is needed. That’s because even the most complicated parts of the telehealth visit are boiled down to a few simple “app-friendly” tasks.

For example, for patients paying with private insurance, the OrthoLive phone app simply takes a picture of their card for billing purposes.

Considering that there are more complex telehealth applications on the market, making sure that the internal teams are trained on how to use the technology will be important. You’ll see the difference in staff confidence even during your first telehealth visit.

It’s also key to the program’s success to encourage patients to embrace telehealth. From adding video to your waiting room kiosks to having flyers announcing the service, there are ways to help patients understand how much more convenient these visits are. You may send a letter or email to patients inviting them to try the service and have your staff talk to patients about how much easier their routine post-op visit would be if they didn’t have to leave home to see the doctor. Have a flyer available that shows them the steps to download the app or use the service.

It’s also important for clinicians to have a comfortable space for the telehealth visit. Having a clutter-free space, good lighting, and proper camera placement will all be important. OrthoLive can also help you with this process, which should include physician practice sessions before the go-live.

All of these steps will help optimize your telehealth tool and ensure that patients and staff will be pleased with the technology.

Implementing Telehealth in Your Practice

Telehealth applications improve the convenience of the physician visit, bringing clinical teams and patients together in a virtual house call. Studies have shown that these visits are just as effective as the traditional on-site exams while offering improved practice and patient care efficiencies.

OrthoLive offers the orthopedic practice a new way of conducting care that maximizes efficiencies and cuts costs. We offer this application in a monthly subscription package accessible to even the smallest practice. Please contact us for a demo of this revolutionary product and keep your practice moving forward.

Topics: "telehealth", "telemedicine", healthcare

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