Telehealth has seen great success in the last few years with health plans and provider networks continuing to invest and patient interest on the rise. However, adoption at the clinician level is still an obstacle that needs to be tackled for the industry to see long-term success. The gap between patient interest and clinician adoption hinders the growth and limits the positive impacts of telehealth. How can you as a leader promote adoption of telehealth services within your organization?
Here are some tips to get you started!
Know your “Why”
There is a lot of media surrounding the benefits and innovations telehealth brings to the table but the reasons for using these services vary greatly from company to company. The leadership team should have a strong sense of why they are choosing to engage in telehealth services and the benefits they hope to achieve. This message then needs to be communicated to the staff that will be the boots on the ground delivering these services. Remember that it’s not all about cost-savings, make sure to highlight the benefits as it applies to their patients and day to day workflow.
Proper Training & Implementation
Now that your staff understands why implementing telehealth is important for both them and their patients, it is time to make sure everyone is properly trained. This is a crucial step in the implementation process. Think about the first time an EHR was put in place, training was essential for adoption of the new software, and telehealth is the same way. Properly implemented telehealth should integrate with the existing clinical workflow as much as possible. The more convenient the software, the more adoption you will see. Staff will be reluctant to engage in telehealth if they do not understand how to use the platform. The time you spend now will pay off later. By carving out time to let staff get oriented and comfortable with the system, you are setting your clinic up for success.
Make it Easy
When choosing your telehealth vendor make sure to choose a platform that prioritizes ease of use. It does not matter how much training you give your staff or how well you define your “why”, if the platform is complicated, adoption rates will be low. The platform you choose should be well aligned with your organization’s objectives and integrate well with the existing workflow.
Well Defined Standards & Metrics
When it comes to defining standards & metrics for your telehealth business, we recommend referring to the metrics outlined by the American Telemedicine Association. These metrics are defined both generally across the industry as well as by specific use-case. These metrics are designed to ensure that the quality of care being delivered through telehealth meets industry standards and regulations. These metrics are a great starting point but you should also determine metrics specific to your companies objectives. That way you can reliably measure the results from implementing telehealth. Again, cost-savings is not everything. Other things to consider are:
- Have you increased your patient base?
- Are you seeing a reduction in readmissions?
- Is your average appointment shorter?
- Is your patient satisfaction better?
- Is your staff satisfaction better?
- Has your network grown?
Whatever your objectives are, make sure you are tracking them and staying consistent!
Workload & Adequate Compensation
Nobody wants to do more work for the same compensation. Your staff wants to feel valued and rewarded when they take on new tasks. Take the time to do a strategic evaluation of the additional man hours and skills needed from your staff to successfully launch your telehealth program. Hire and compensate accordingly.
Take a similar approach to telehealth visits as you would to in-person visits, rather than treating them as add-on work. Make sure you have adequately staffed your virtual clinic to ensure you have clinicians available to assist patients via telehealth.
Another option is to consider implementing a rewards program for physicians that want to join in on your telehealth program, especially if your staff is salaried. This could be in the form of bonuses, extra vacation days, streamlined promotions etc. You can make a decision based off of what works best for your organization. The key is to make sure that your staff feels a tangible personal benefit to joining the program rather than viewing it as a burden.
At the end of the day your telehealth program will only succeed if your people get behind it. That’s why it is so critical to spend the time early on making a game-plan of how you are going to get the buy-in of the team. iTether Technologies has spent two years developing our implementation procedure and this blog is based on lessons learned during that time. We are happy to talk more with you about how to have a successful start to your program, or how to revamp a current program just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.