There has been a lot of discussion around telehealth lately, and for good reason. The COVID-19 pandemic has very quickly pulled back the curtain on telehealth, revealing just how crucial a tool it is for the continued delivery of quality care under any circumstance. Before the pandemic, telehealth had been seen by many in the healthcare community as little more than a solution that could bring medical care to patients in rural areas. In this “new normal” world, however, telemedicine options have quickly come to be seen as an indispensable necessity.
In the initial scramble to implement telehealth solutions, unfortunately, many practices did not take (or simply did not have) the time to consider best practices for doing so. Failure to follow best practices for telehealth can turn what should be a beneficial and positive patient experience into a frustrating and problematic one. To assist our readers in getting the most out of telehealth, this blog will discuss best practices for both its implementation and use.
Telehealth Platform Selection & Implementation
When choosing and implementing your practice’s telehealth solution, it is important to adhere to the following best practices:
- Do not use public-facing applications such as Facebook Live, Twitch or TikTok.
- Implement a telehealth solution that is fully integrated with your EHR and Practice Management solutions to optimize workflows and ensure accurate documentation.
- Select a private, HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform from a vendor that offers HIPAA Business Associate Agreements (BAAs).
- Continue to observe and comply with the HIPAA Security Rule, Privacy Rule and Breach Notification Rule.
- Your solution should automatically prompt patients to review and sign a telehealth consent form immediately upon joining a telehealth call.
- Check with your licensing board or specialty organization, as applicable, to ensure you are in compliance with their standards and recommendations.
- Train staff and providers on the proper procedures for telehealth appointments, creating consistency and standard of excellence across all visits.
- Educate patients on the various telehealth and virtual care services provided by your practice by marketing your telehealth services in both patient communications and social media.
To ensure you’re providing patients with the best possible experience during telehealth visits, providers and staff should keep the following “Telehealth Etiquette” in mind:
- Be punctual for all telehealth appointments. Patients may become frustrated or disconnect if left waiting on a virtual call.
- Use high-quality video cameras and sound equipment with a strong internet connection. Grainy video and/or lag can give you an unprofessional appearance.
- Have a professional looking background. Your patients should feel as if you are in an office, even if you’re not. Avoid using “fun” backgrounds as they may appear unprofessional and insensitive to a patient.
- Adhere to the same dress code that you would for an in-office visit. You should look as professional and “put together” as possible.
- Make an effort to look into the camera and make eye contact when you speak to patients, so they know you’re engaged. Do not multitask during the visit. Patients notice this more than you think and will become disengaged.
- Review all documentation before a telehealth appointment. Pausing to go over notes or switching your attention between monitors may give the appearance of being ill prepared or make patients feel you are not engaged.
- Clearly communicate all post-appointment instructions to the patient before ending the visit. Patients should leave an appointment feeling a clear course of action or diagnosis has been reached.
Experience All the Benefits of Telehealth
The benefits of telehealth go beyond simply accommodating healthcare providers during a pandemic. From better patient engagement and maximized efficiency to increased revenue and lowered costs, telehealth offers practices far more than just a videoconferencing platform. It is an investment in the future of your practice’s wellbeing, one with tangible monetary and time-saving returns. To learn more about the benefits of telehealth, check out our new infographic.
To learn more about how Nextech can help your practice adopt best practices for telehealth and create a long-term strategy for overall success, fill out this form and a member of our team will be in touch.