5 Important Steps In Developing Your Telemedicine Platform
The healthcare industry is currently witnessing a huge surge in the adoption of telemedicine with both small health clinics and large hospitals moving towards telemedicine.
Telemedicine was already growing but the pandemic pushed it into hyperdrive. According to a McKinsey report, the consumer adoption of telemedicine in 2020 has grown to 49 percent from 11 percent in 2019. Trends indicate that the future of virtual care does look bright.
Developing and deploying a telemedicine platform for your practice may seem like a daunting task, especially if you are making the transition to virtual care for the first time, but it isn’t necessarily so.
One of the foremost questions on the mind of every physician looking to include telemedicine in their workflow is “How to develop a telemedicine platform”.
Having worked with a number of healthcare practitioners and organizations for deploying their custom telemedicine platforms, here’s a 8 step guide on successfully developing a telemedicine platform for your practice and making the best out of technology.
How To Develop A Telemedicine Platform – 5 Crucial Steps
1. Define your goals before choosing telemedicine
Before launching your telemedicine program, it is crucial to have a clear vision of how it will contribute to the overall success of your practice. What is the primary benefit you expect from embracing telemedicine.
Whether it is cost savings, increased flexibility, greater reach or access of healthcare services into remote regions, your reasons for choosing telemedicine need to be well defined beforehand.
Telemedicine by itself is just a tool not a goal. Your goal will ideally be something that you aim to accomplish by developing a telemedicine platform. Divide the goals into short term and long term goals and define the estimated timelines for completion of the same.
You also need to choose whether the telemedicine model you choose would be a patient-provider model (real time telemedicine) or referral telemedicine (store and forward) or a combination of these.
Wherever possible, make these goals quantifiable so that it is possible for you to measure the results obtained after you develop a telemedicine platform for your practice.
Just having a goal or vision for telemedicine integration will not suffice. Your plan needs to have the support and backing of all the stakeholders for its successful implementation.
2. Have a plan for ensuring return on investment
Even if cost savings is not the primary motivator for you choosing telemedicine, financial considerations remain an important aspect for strategic decision making for your healthcare practice.
A projection of overheads and potential revenue that you forecast is crucial for estimating the return on investment that you put in developing your own telemedicine platform.
An estimate of how many patients you expect to see per day and the reimbursement you expect can help you determine the profitability and eventual ROI.
You also need to factor in the development cost, equipment cost, cost of providers and even the connectivity bandwidth costs. Computing the expenses vs the potential returns can help in forecasting the timeline for achieving return on investment.
The federal government has lifted the restrictions previously imposed medical professionals providing telehealth services in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have started allowing reimbursement for telemedicine services in response to COVID-19.
With reimbursement of telemedicine no longer being an issue, having a game plan for ensuring financial returns is a must have before developing a telemedicine platform for your practice.
3. Pay attention to the legal and regulatory requirements
While the laws for telemedicine vary from state to state, they are increasingly becoming more progressive. You do need to comply with the state and federal laws before providing telemedicine services so based on your location, figuring the legal requirements before launching a telemedicine platform is a wise decision.
Since you are going to be dealing with collection, storage and transmission of private health information (PHI) of your patients, you will need to be compliant to the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Stringent data protection and security measures need to be in place to safeguard the safety of patient data.
This involves strong end-to-end encryption of data, regular backups of patient data and signing BAAs (business associate agreements) by all the covered entities.
Data security needs to be considered even when holding video consultations. Secure servers for transmission of PHI is a must which is why developing a custom telemedicine platform is always a safer choice than relying on insecure channels such as skype or zoom for patient consultations.
Even in case of store-and-forward telemedicine, sensitive patient data cannot be transmitted over emails which are prone to attacks compromising on the safety and security of data.
4. Select the right technology partner
Having an experienced team of healthcare developers on your side can play a huge role in the success of your project. While there are a number of market-ready platforms for you to choose from, custom development ensures complete customization of your telehealth platform according to the workflow requirements of your practice.
Custom development also allows the platform developed to seamlessly integrate with other medical software that you currently use in your practice, ranging from appointment scheduling software to EHRs and billing software.
Development that keeps the patient in mind also ensures ease of use and a better user experience. Use of cloud-based solutions ensures secure access to data remotely, allowing you to provide enhanced levels of care remotely.
Custom developing your telemedicine platform also allows for incorporation of innovation by providing the physician with the right set of tools to excel at virtual delivery of care.
By connecting with medical devices through the internet of medical things and remote patient monitoring, providers can get a comprehensive overview of the patient’s health remotely as well. Use of analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms in conjugation with telemedicine can boost the patient outcomes while enhancing the patient experience.
5. Actively invite feedback from the stakeholders
Feedback from your patients as well as your staff can give vital insights into how your telemedicine platform is living up to their expectations. It helps you figure out what’s working, what’s not and how you can make it even better. Make sure feedback collection is a seamless process for the patients. It can be in the form of ratings or engaging surveys.
Hold regular conversations with your staff and ask for their input for suggestions to improve the existing workflow. Give them the training required to transition to virtual care. It is also necessary to check in with the goals you had set in the beginning to analyze the effectiveness of developing a telemedicine platform.
By measuring against the pre-set goals and adjusting them for the future, you can ensure that your staff as well as the patients get to reap the benefits that telemedicine has to offer.
Ready to start the digital transformation of your practice and leverage the power of telemedicine? With 9+ years of experience in custom healthcare development Arkenea is a trusted brand that healthcare professionals turn to. Get in touch with our team of expert consultants and we will get back to you with custom solutions.