Provider access to affordable broadband and delivery methods, such as smart phones, tablets and iPads, are driving telehealth to become a delivery platform that can meet consumer needs.
On a daily basis, health care professionals are finding new ways to use telehealth technology to achieve positive outcomes for consumers. For example, telehealth is being used in the management of chronic diseases and follow up/triage programs, which can reduce hospital readmissions and emergency department visits.
Reimbursement is also key to telehealth program growth. New legislation at state and federal levels is making it possible for telehealth services to be reimbursed by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance carriers. It is an exciting time to be involved with telehealth!
If you want to integrate a telehealth program into your practice, it is important to benchmark successful programs that are driven by quality and developed through a proven process.
Can you identify these 7 qualities of successful telehealth program?
- Reaches into the community and meets specific needs
During program development, a needs assessment process helps identify specific needs within a community. For example, your community may have a large number of citizens who need diabetes or nutritional counseling. Developing programs that meet specific needs will help ensure successful outcomes.
- Establishes an effective work environment by integrating telehealth services into everyday practice
Telehealth services that are integrated into daily workflow become part of the patient care process. While telehealth doesn’t replace face-to-face visits, it can supplement care and help build doctor/patient relationships.
- Provides services through a trained health care team
Training provides information, experience and skills to confidently perform job-specific activities. In addition to training on the proper use of equipment, a trained team also follows established processes and procedures to ensure quality outcomes.
- Utilizes the technology needed to support programs/services
Successful telehealth programs use adequate bandwidth, HIPAA-compliant software, appropriate hardware and delivery methods that meet patient needs.
- Reduces patient anxiety by creating a positive telehealth experience
Patients need to understand that their care, privacy and safety is important in a telehealth encounter. Patients should be informed about any required forms and the billing process. Helping patients understand that they will be treated the same way via telehealth as they would be in a face-to-face environment and walking them through what happens during the telehealth visit ensures a positive experience.
- Targets quality of care and quality of life
In addition to connecting patients with a primary care physician or APRN, telehealth can facilitate access to specialists and subspecialists. Telehealth can save time and money by reducing travel for both providers and patients. It also allows patients to remain in their communities, which means they will fill prescriptions, purchase groceries, etc.
- Sustains services through reimbursement
In addition to self-pay patients, reimbursement can be sought through Medicaid, Medicare and commercial/private payers. It is important to note that each state can pass their own laws regarding telehealth coverage. Providers should investigate reimbursement options in their state during the program development process.
To learn more about telehealth and program development, check out the resources provided below.
If you are interested in telehealth case studies, watch this video:
If you are interested in learning via podcast:
If you are interested in learning how to build your telehealth team, take this free course module:
If you are interested in learning more about policy and reimbursement, bookmark these resources:
- Center for Connected Health Policy – state and national policy information
- Legislative Updates for AR, TN, MS are published on Learn Telehealth as they become available.
If you are interested in learning more about telehealth technology, bookmark this resource:
National Telehealth Technology Assessment Center (TTAC) – free telehealth assessment tool kits and guidance