Since the pandemic, the demand for telehealth technology has surged as an overburdened health system and social distancing measures led patients and providers to look at digital channels to safely access and deliver healthcare. In fact, telehealth utilization increased to 78 times higher in the first two months of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The utilization has since stabilized to 38 times higher compared to pre-COVID times but this new baseline highlights an urgent need that must be addressed: telehealth is fast emerging as an integral part of healthcare.
When it comes to setting up a telehealth system in your healthcare organization, deciding what components to include can be overwhelming, especially when it involves a wide area of focus. Here are five crucial factors to consider when setting up a telehealth system:
Components of a Telehealth System
Start with identifying the components that you want to include based on the features and telehealth equipment that would best connect your patients to healthcare practitioners.
At the core of it, you have a telehealth software platform operating on a device that’s used for communication and gathering data from telehealth monitoring devices. How these components work together can be customized and depends on the patient’s requirements.
For example, an elderly patient with diabetes can be equipped with a glucose monitor and a tablet pre-loaded with a daily monitoring schedule, medication reminders, and educational content.
Whether you add on more components (like other Bluetooth monitoring devices) or simplify by switching to a mobile application instead depends on the level of engagement and care required. The most effective telemedicine systems are as intuitive and simple as possible so choosing user-friendly features that increase patient access should be a priority.
EMR/EHR Integration and Interoperability
When introducing a telemedicine system, interoperability becomes an important topic as the goal is to integrate, not create data silos. A telehealth system that integrates with the EMR through a bidirectional workflow ensures processes are streamlined and patient data is consolidated.
This promotes faster diagnosing, increases provider efficiency, and improves patient outcomes as data that is tracked on the telehealth system is immediately communicated to the EMR without duplicating processes across multiple platforms. When done right, an integrated telehealth system can result in improved quality of care for patients and an enhanced technology experience for your physicians.
Safety and security are top priorities for a telehealth system. It’s crucial that your telehealth vendor is HIPAA compliant to ensure confidentiality and prevent personal patient information from being disclosed without consent. Using an encrypted messaging solution provides physicians with the unique ability to interact with and monitor their patients while on the go through a cloud-based dashboard.
As a healthcare provider, you have the responsibility to protect ALL patient data—choose a telehealth vendor that enables your patients to receive HIPAA-compliant care safely and conveniently.
Synchronous vs Asynchronous Telehealth
Understanding the difference between synchronous and asynchronous telehealth is important in determining what works best to optimize clinician workflow.
Synchronous telehealth tools like live video consults and phone calls are typically interactive face-to-face video connections between patient and provider that happen in real time. It gives providers the ability to conduct virtual visits and make in-depth evaluations about the patient’s state of care.
Alternatively, asynchronous telehealth tools like text messaging and wound imaging take the form of store-and-forward transmission wherein data is transferred over separate time frames. Physicians with bandwidth strains typically benefit the most from these tools as they can review patient data at their convenience. Setting up a telehealth system that offers omni-channel strategies will empower your physicians with the flexibility to deliver targeted and improved care to patients.
Getting the Right People in Place
A successful telehealth system requires on-the-ground knowledge, open communication, and long-term commitment. Hence, an impactful telehealth implementation depends on engaging the right people and getting them where they need to be.
Identifying Your Telehealth Project Champions and Building Your Team
Choosing the right people as your “Telehealth Executive Champion” and “Telehealth Leader” is crucial to getting the telehealth system up and running.
Telehealth Executive Champions are change agents of your organization (CEOs, Chief Medical Officers, Chief Operating Officers) who ensure appropriate financial, operational, clinical, and technical resources are allocated to drive development and support for your program.
They work hand-in-hand with the Telehealth Leader who is responsible for day-to-day functions of the system, ensuring all the key operational clinical elements for the program are sustained. When recruiting your telehealth team, identify key players who will establish strong telehealth governance and show interest in leading clinical operations to determine if they are a good fit for the role.
Establishing Buy-In and Educating the Clinical Team
Another crucial determinant of a telehealth system’s success is in establishing organization-wide buy-in. Your clinical team needs to understand how the telehealth system empowers them and adds value to the organization. Educate your team with discussions about clinical training, ROI, and the importance of maximizing utilization. Ensure they stay informed about successful patient outcomes, data, and trends on the program.
Choose a Telehealth Vendor that Empowers Your Providers and Improves Patient Engagement
Partnering with a comprehensive telehealth vendor can streamline your telehealth system and empower healthcare providers to achieve organizational goals. To get started on setting up your telehealth systems, request a demo with one of our experts today!