The Pillars of a Winning Telehealth Strategy

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Using digital tools in healthcare is familiar, as Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) or Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have been here for many years. However, in recent times, mainly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of these tools has grown significantly throughout the entire care delivery. As almost everyone now uses smartphones, many patients rely on their phones to find healthcare providers, attend appointments and communicate with their care team after appointments.

At the same time, healthcare organizations that plan to introduce virtual health systems should clearly understand what they hope to achieve. Not all telehealth providers offer high-quality services and products, and some may be more beneficial for a particular facility, its staff, and patients than others. So, what are the pillars of a winning telemedicine strategic plan? Let's analyze them in detail below.

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Why a Hospital Needs A Telehealth Strategy

Telehealth visits enable individuals to receive the remote care they require promptly and conveniently by increasing their access to doctors and specialists. It is a vital tactic for healthcare providers to control patient health from a high-volume, low-cost viewpoint. Telehealth also provides hospitals with several advantages, such as:

Telehealth strategies improve patient care in rural communities, where individuals may reside hundreds of miles from primary care physicians, specialists, or other healthcare providers. Social workers and care managers for chronic diseases may also be unavailable in smaller communities. But access to adequate telemedicine services can prevent patients from traveling excessively for appropriate care. Telehealth capabilities effectively address these challenges, benefiting patients and healthcare companies alike:

  • Patients can receive treatment in their local area without additional risks or expenses.
  • Local hospitals can increase offerings and generate more revenue while providing better care management depending on the latest research and best practices.
  • Healthcare providers can improve patient engagement and reduce costs by remote monitoring of patients in post-acute care settings or at home.

A telehealth strategy can help manage chronic diseases, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC reports that six out of ten American adults have a chronic disease, with an estimated four out of ten individuals living with two chronic diseases. Therefore, telehealth implementation can help improve the management of chronic diseases for a significant portion of the population.

Around 75% of the overall expenditure on healthcare in the US is dedicated to treating individuals with chronic illnesses. Such people visit emergency rooms and require hospital admissions more frequently. To prevent hospitalization, healthcare providers implement virtual care strategies that involve continuous patient communication and monitoring. So, a telehealth solution is considered optimal for accomplishing these goals.

Key Pillars of a Winning Telehealth Strategy

Healthcare facilities can create a telehealth program that ensures their digital transformation and aligns with their patients' priorities to accomplish the desired objectives. The following are the fundamental elements of a strategic plan that lead to success.

A HIPAA-Compliant Platform

During the early stages of the pandemic, HIPAA regulations were temporarily eased, enabling telehealth delivery through commonly used consumer-facing platforms. Doctors resorted to platforms such as Skype, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, and FaceTime to provide medical care during the global healthcare emergency. However, concerns regarding physician privacy and security breaches, such as the "Zoombombings," quickly emerged, and once reinstating HIPAA regulations, these interim solutions will no longer be feasible.

hipaa

Easy-to-Use Technology

The most critical factor influencing patients to choose virtual visits is their easy use. Regardless of age, gender or other demographic factors, patients prefer a straightforward process that does not require them to download or install any new apps or undergo complicated sign-in procedures. To ensure patient adoption and usage, it is essential to choose a telehealth program that is user-friendly and easy to use.

High-Quality Video and Sound Options

Patients expect the same level of quality during virtual appointments as they would during an in-person visit. But technical issues such as dropped calls, pixelated video, frozen screens, and intermittent sound loss can lead to frustrating patient experiences. This negative experience may cause patients to switch to a competitor or abandon telemedicine altogether.

Thus, to ensure the best care, healthcare providers can use unified communications and video conferencing tools that are secure, cost-effective, and user-friendly. It is vital to select a platform with various security and privacy settings and the ability to host multi-person conferences to facilitate communication and coordination among multiple providers.

For example, Zoom Video collaboration ensures HIPAA compliance while maintaining user-friendliness. It achieves this through several safety features, like firewall compatibility, integration with medical devices, 128-bit AES video encryption, and password-protected meetings. With Zoom, you can have the best of both worlds: security and ease of use.

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Listings of Telehealth Capabilities

Today, having a successful "digital front door" plan is more important than ever. To make accessing healthcare easier, it is necessary to promote telemedicine software development options across all online platforms where patients may search for care and find their doctors. These platforms include external websites, directories, search engines like Healthgrades, Google, and WebMD, as well as your website's physician directory.

Telehealth Reimbursement

There are recommendations for healthcare facilities to establish a telehealth program that provides reimbursement for its services. This reimbursement can come from Medicaid, Medicare, and commercial or private payers. The facility can receive payment from these companies and organizations for its services.

Constant Communication

Patients with chronic conditions require continuous care rather than just one-time treatment. That necessitates ongoing communication and outreach efforts. But the communication between patients and clinicians usually diminishes after discharge, and with limited resources available for practitioners, digital solutions are necessary to offer ongoing care on a large scale.

Some of these solutions may include:

  • automated appointment reminders
  • tailored outreach for vulnerable patient populations
  • platforms for engaging caregivers
  • databases of community health resources
  • tools for screening social determinants of health (SDoH)

Healthcare organizations that adopt these solutions can expect to see a return on investment (ROI) in reduced readmissions and hospitalizations and improved patient compliance, satisfaction, and overall health outcomes.

Reputation Integration

Reading online feedback from fellow patients has become crucial to the healthcare journey. With the rise of virtual consultations, patients are more likely to search for affirmation online before visiting a hospital or a specific doctor. To promote your hospital's image, earn people's trust in telemedicine, and meet patient demands, consider using a telehealth platform that enables you to gather reviews quickly within the platform. Doing so can establish a solid reputation to encourage patients to return to your physical facility if needed.

Summary

As with any new venture, expanding telehealth services will have risks and difficulties. Nevertheless, numerous patients and healthcare organizations concur that an efficient telehealth strategy can improve patient outcomes, increase doctors' productivity, better manage time, and improve financial performance. Ultimately, working together through a team effort involving a healthcare provider, its patients, and different support organizations is crucial to achieving optimal results.

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