Telehealth once limited to phone consultations has broadened to include various systems that enable e-visits, virtual check-ins, video consultations, and e-prescriptions.
Apart from the obvious telehealth benefits of easier access for returning patients and those far away, safety is now a key consideration in healthcare delivery.
The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the provision of safer, remote healthcare to at-risk patients as well as those who don’t need in-person care.
You must be wondering how to set up a medical call center and telehealth program for your practice. Read on.
Telehealth Design and Implementation Steps
The Telehealth Implementation Playbook by the American Medical Association suggests these 12 steps for setting up telemedicine. They are divided into the foundational planning stages and the action steps.
- Identify the need and pain points that require resolution.
- Form the team needed and their timelines.
- Defining success and goals of the telemedicine program.
- Evaluate the needed technology vendor and do due diligence.
- Make the case for political and financial stakeholders to come on board.
- Key legal and financial documentation. Contracts, timelines, budgets, and other support agreements with the chosen vendor.
- Design the workflow and necessary technological integrations.
- Prepare the care team and equip them with performance checklists.
- Partner with the patient and address their needs.
- Implement the program and solve real-time issues that crop up.
- Evaluate success through patient and clinician surveys as well as team retrospective worksheets.
- Scale or grow the program. What’s next?
Key Considerations When Setting Up a Telehealth Program
Whether you set up an internal team to carry out the above steps or bring in a telemedicine company to partner with your practice, there are a few considerations.
Telemedicine Startup Costs
Calculating startup costs and return on investment of your new telehealth program is key. It is also necessary to assess your budget and financial capability to take on this new program.
Costs could potentially come from:
- The telemedicine platform or vendor
- Additional staff
- Additional equipment such as microphones and tablets
- Legal and financial consultations
- Upgrading medical websites and patient communication portals
The metrics used to evaluate telemedicine ROI are:
- Focusing on health outcomes
- Improving the patient experience
- Reducing cost
- Increasing clinician satisfaction
- Health Equity
Telemedicine and Technology
When evaluating the vendors who will set up your medical patient portal, these are some of the criteria to look at.
- HIPAA and state medical board compliance
- Electronic health records (EHR) integration
- Availability of tech support for patients and clinicians
- Customizable features
- Impact on internet speed and network
Cybersecurity is not just good practice; it also involves patient safety. Consider the measures needed to keep your patients’ protected health information private and secure.
Local Telehealth Regulations
Due to the global pandemic, rules on using telehealth services under the U.S. Medicare program have been relaxed. However, it’s important to research the following points.
- What are your local state medical board regulations for telemedicine?
- What services are covered under Medicare? Review the new guidelines
- What are state laws around e-prescriptions from the Drug Enforcement Administration?
Crossing all the t’s and dotting the i’s can seem quite convoluted. Hiring a telemedicine company to implement for you is a great alternative.