With the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets, many doctors are welcoming the opportunity to reach more patients though video chat or video conferencing tools. Telehealth helps healthcare professionals produce better outcomes, improve patient satisfaction and increase revenue through the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients via video. But how difficult is it to integrate?
With many choices out there, here are some key things to consider:
- HIPAA and HL7 compliance: HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted by the United States and defines the policies, procedures and guidelines for maintaining the privacy and security of identifiable health information. Many countries around the world follow these guidelines. HL7 (Health Level 7) provides standards for interoperability that improves how care is delivered. It is a global standard that permits health information to be shared among computer applications.
- Stand-alone or Integrated solution: The best telehealth solutions provide the flexibility to offer you both. If you would like to walk before you run, you can start off with a stand-alone solution and opt to integrate with your EHR as you get more comfortable using it.
- Scalability: Can the telehealth solution easily scale as your practice grows, or would it require additional configuration steps and setup charges? It’s easy to get caught up with initial costs, but keeping a long term view can save you much headache if you plan on adding staff and patients.
- Live video, recorded video messages, or both? There are situations when using live video is the best option to administer care remotely, and situations when communicating thorough recorded video messages (asynchronous video) works better, depending on your practice workflow. Look for a telehealth solution that provides the flexibility to offer you both.
- Simplicity: Doctors and nurses want something that is intuitive and easy-to-use right out of the box. If a class or training session is needed, then consider another solution, because if it’s not simple for you to use, then your patients are going to have the same problem.
- Can I bill for it? Providing care for your patients and producing better outcomes is a top priority, but billing or accounting for your time is equally as important. Look for a telehealth solution that easily integrates with your EHR and provides the tools that allow for billing and reimbursement.
- Service and Support: Sometimes overlooked, but if things go wrong, knowing that you can easily reach out to someone for help provides peace of mind. Getting someone on the phone may not always be practical, but being able to send an email or open a support ticket should be a minimum requirement.
- Total cost of ownership: This includes cost of the telehealth application, setup fees, support costs, equipment and internet access. This can range considerably in price depending on if the practice wants to:
– Use existing equipment (desktops, laptops, tablets, mobile phones)
– Purchase new equipment
– Allow associates to use their own devices
– Implement a combination of company owned equipment and associate owned devices (most common)