As the healthcare paradigm shifts from an outcome based approach towards value based care, the hospitals and healthcare providers need to constantly innovate on the healthcare delivery protocols that they are following.
According to research by Mordor Intelligence, the telemedicine market is poised to grow at a CAGR of 28% to reach $168 billion in 2026.
With more and more healthcare providers making the move towards initiating and implementing telehealth for their practice, knowing what resources that you would require to get started with telemedicine. The resources required to implement telemedicine include staff, technology, and strategic partnerships.
Here is a step-by-step guide for initiating telehealth within your healthcare organization.
Steps involved in initiating telehealth
1. Identifying the problem to be addressed through telemedicine
Telehealth implementation within your organization needs to be in alignment with the organizational priorities. Identifying the problem that you intend to address through telemedicine is the first step in initiating telemedicine within your organization.
What is it that you hope to accomplish by telehealth implementation? Are you looking to cut down on patient no-shows? Is telemedicine a tool to streamline the management of chronic diseases? Do you intend to offer telemedicine as an add-on to your existing practice?
The problem to be addressed through telemedicine needs to be decided by identifying the gaps within your practice. What are the pain points that the staff is experiencing? Where is the patient experience turning sour? Where is the efficiency lagging?
Identifying the biggest pain points lay the groundwork for shortlisting the opportunity that needs to be aimed for through telemedicine implementation.
2. Setting the goals for telemedicine
A successful telemedicine implementation needs to have measurable goals for determining the level of success. Rather than focusing on vague goals like increasing patient engagement or lowering no-show appointments, the goals that you need for initiating and implementing telemedicine needs to be quantifiable.
Once you quantify your goals and ground the decisions in data, it becomes easier for you to evaluate the level of success that the telemedicine program has.
It is tempting to try and solve too many issues that your practice may be facing with telemedicine but focusing on smaller fixable problems and achieving smaller goals and targets set can be beneficial in the long run.
Instead of focusing on an all-in-one solution when pursuing telemedicine app development, an MVP approach that involves incorporating only the must-have features in the first version of the telemedicine software allows building of a scalable product while implementing telemedicine.
3. Forming the team for telemedicine implementation
A buy-in from all the stakeholders is crucial for telemedicine implementation. Engaging the right people right from the start ensures that the implementation plan is treated as a team effort with all the contributors taking up responsibility upon themselves. All the departments that would be impacted by implementation of telemedicine need to be involved.
This includes the care team comprising the doctors and nursing staff, the administrative and IT departments, and members of the billing, claims and legal departments.
While the ground level staff that would be directly involved in the implementation of telemedicine need to be a part of the core team, a buy-in from the members from upper management is also crucial for running a successful telemedicine program.
Open lines of communication both upward and downward allows for greater buy-in from all the stakeholders while distributing the workload and facilitating identification and mitigation of anticipated barriers during the implementation stage.
4. Selecting the vendor for telehealth platform development
The importance of selecting the right telemedicine app development company for developing the telemedicine application for your organization cannot be overstated.
Any entity that collects, stores or transmits protected health information (PHI) needs to be compliant with the regulatory and legal compliance through HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Thus all telemedicine platforms need to be compliant with the HIPAA privacy and security rule.
While the compliance requirements have been tuned down in the event of the current public health emergency, measures that are likely to remain in place through the coronavirus pandemic, ensuring that your telemedicine software remains compliant to the regulatory requirements will only prove to be beneficial in the long run.
While there are a number of off the shelf telemedicine software readily available in the market, custom developing a telehealth solution for your practice is better not only from the engagement perspective, but it also better aligns with the goals that you have outlined for accomplishing through telemedicine.
Experienced healthcare software developers like Arkenea are well versed with the requirements and choosing the right partner to work on your platform can put you on the path to success.
The company’s portfolio should give you insights on the products that they would have worked on in the past. Discuss the goals that you want to achieve through telemedicine implementation to ensure that the development team is on the same page as you.
5. Establishing telemedicine implementation workflow
Your existing workflow needs to be altered to add telemedicine to it. Some procedures such as appointment scheduling, consent, documentation etc. may need to be updated and digitized to incorporate telemedicine to the workflow.
The telemedicine platform needs to integrate with any other software solutions that your practice may be using such as appointment scheduling software or EHR software.
The technology requirements to successfully implement telehealth such as hardware and network requirements need to be accounted for in the new workflow.
You will also need to ensure that the updated workflow stands up to the security standards needed for telemedicine implementation. Conducting a HIPAA security risk assessment can help you stay on track.
6. Setting up the team
While a good workflow makes telemedicine delivery seamless for the patients, healthcare providers as well as the supporting staff. However, it is important to spell out the role for every team member to ensure that the telehealth initiation and implementation takes place in an effortless way.
Training the care delivery team is an important step in successful rollout of telemedicine. You need to ensure that every stakeholder knows their roles and responsibilities for utilizing telemedicine to achieve the metrics laid out at the beginning of the implementation.
The staff involved in telemedicine delivery also need to be competent at troubleshooting any issues that the patients may face when using telemedicine.
7. Evaluating the success of telehealth implementation
Measuring the effectiveness of telehealth implementation is not an instantaneous task. It may take months or even years to quantify the effectiveness of telehealth. However, the goals set in the beginning can work as a template for determining success.
Collect feedback from the stakeholders on how the effectiveness of the overall telehealth program can be enhanced. Having clearly defined metrics for measuring the effectiveness of telemedicine and help you scale further.
Ready to get started with telemedicine? Arkenea is a trusted name in the field of healthcare software development with more than a decade of experience developing telemedicine and other medical software for a range of clients.
Get in touch with our team of expert consultants to discuss your requirements today.