Last Updated | July 19, 2023
Executive Summary – Telehealth Implementation Guide
Healthcare facilities need to adopt technology to digitize health service delivery and provide virtual care. This telehealth implementation guide explains how implementing telehealth makes virtual care possible, deriving convenience, improving care, and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
Overview – Telehealth Implementation Guide
Telehealth implementation guide makes access to virtual health care easier. Organizations that want to provide people with routine care while limiting the communal spread of viral diseases can expand the use of telehealth to transition to virtual care.
The use of telehealth reduces unnecessary contact and exposure to people who might be suffering from viral infections.
Therefore, a growing number of states and governments are encouraging healthcare organizations to provide medical services using telehealth, particularly in light of COVID-19.
Telehealth has significant benefits in addressing patient needs while maintaining physical distancing and limiting exposure to further diseases.
This helps slow the progress of viruses like COVID-19.
As a healthcare organization, to continue offering timely care and limiting unnecessary contact between healthcare practitioners and infected patients, you must implement telehealth to the greatest extent possible.
In this telehealth implementation guide, we cover all the steps you can follow to implement telehealth in your organization.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth encompasses a broad range of technologies that facilitate the delivery of medical care, healthcare education, and public healthcare services.
It connects multiple users from separate locations to deliver healthcare services. As a broad term, telehealth covers telemedicine (diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of injury or illness) and services like prevention, education, assessment monitoring, and communications. With the help of a practice convenient telehealth app, patients can access a wide range of telehealth services, enabling seamless remote healthcare delivery and facilitating effective prevention, education, assessment monitoring, and communication for improved patient outcomes.
The concept of telehealth is not new. The idea of distant care started as early as the 1800s as a better way to access healthcare.
Today, telehealth adoption has increased across the world to make remote care accessible. The convenience and accessibility offered by telehealth are huge drivers of the ongoing implementation of telehealth solutions.
Providers use telehealth to deliver routine healthcare services virtually to minimize unnecessary patient visits to health facilities. This in turn, contributes to averting infectious diseases for healthcare providers, patients, and the population at large.
Along with these benefits, implementing telehealth helps provide healthcare services in cost-effective ways to make it affordable for the public in the long term.
Why and How to Implement Telehealth in Healthcare Organizations?
Telehealth statistics show that the use of virtual care has increased 38x than pre-covid.
The sudden spike and sustained demand during and after COVID-19 is a positive sign that telehealth is an effective option to provide virtual care.
But, to provide this care at scale, healthcare facilities need to prepare and implement telehealth correctly to translate it into ease for patients and increase workflow efficiency.
If you have made up your mind to invest in telehealth, here are the steps you can follow to implement it in your facility:
1. Address Legal Considerations and Required Approvals
Your state decides all of this.
In the USA alone, there are 50 states, and each has its own set of legal considerations.
You must address relevant legal considerations while implementing, expanding, and sustaining telehealth programs in your organization.
So, before expanding your services to telehealth, some key details you need to take into account are:
- Whether your state requires you to get written or verbal patient consent before delivering telehealth services
- How you can achieve compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to secure patient personal information against risks such as cyber liability
For a more detailed account of telehealth privacy and security practices in the USA, check out this literature review.
Learning about your state guidelines for telehealth can give you a clear-cut idea of what to do before designing a telehealth program.
Once you know that, you can move on and define your goals for implementing telehealth in your organization.
2. Define Your Goals
As with any new venture, the road to a successful telehealth implementation guide begins with defined goals.
To identify goals, assess your hospital or facility to understand what telehealth means for your providers and patients.
Here are a few potential goals that are commonly associated with telehealth adoption:
- The primary goal of telehealth is to improve patient outcomes.
- Telemedicine can help increase patient throughput and reduce wait times.
- Physicians can reduce burnout and improve patient care and productivity.
- Telemedicine, as a component of telehealth, can serve as a multi-faceted solution that can give you cost benefits in several ways.
If you have any of these goals, you can smoothly meet them by partnering with an experienced and reliable implementation partner.
The implementation team can integrate telehealth with your existing solutions and provide your team training to make telehealth adoption easier for you.
When you know what your goals are, you can go ahead and find out the team that can help you achieve your goals and objectives.
3. Assemble a Team
The preceding steps are the homework you need to do before you look for a team.
When looking for a team, there are several essential ruminations you need to keep in mind to make the best choice. These include:
- Location of the team- where is your implementation team located? Do they understand your state policies? Does their cost vary based on their location?
- Experience – does the team have relevant experience and understands the pain points of facilities for the telehealth implementation guide?
- Team dedication – is the team dedicated enough to stay available for support and address issues as they appear? What does their experience reflect about their expertise?
- Marketing help – will the implementation team help you market the new telehealth platform to your patients?
- Implementation strategy – will your team create an implementation strategy for the effective use of telehealth in your facility?
- Reporting – will the team support you beyond implementation to check if providers and patients are engaging with the telehealth services? Will these checks help you make improvements?
Not all telehealth implementation guide teams are equally supportive and well-versed. Choosing the right one is essential for your project to be a success. Effective implementation can help you achieve your goals, so keep those points in mind to choose the team that makes it possible.
4. Create a Budget
Even if you have small to start, get started.
You can utilize your minimum budget to deploy a telehealth solution. Since telehealth hinges on communication technologies like mobile phones or tablets, you can implement it without the burden of large capital requirements.
Implementing a basic telehealth solution can cost you from $15,000 to $150,000. The cost range depends on multiple factors, such as your team size, number of integrations, associated branches, and features.
Apart from the cost of software, you may face the following extra costs when you implement telehealth:
- Cost of medical device integration
- Cost of communication and videoconferencing platform
- Telemedicine equipment cost
- Cost of telemedicine support on mobile phones
- Employee training
- Telemedicine regulatory compliance
Considering the cost of each factor, your implementation partner can help you create a budget and strategic plan for your facility.
5. Develop a Plan
Get the help of your implementation team to devise a strategic plan to maximize the efficacy of telehealth.
Your telehealth and telemedicine programs cannot get far if your providers and patients do not participate in them.
So, make sure your telehealth implementation guide plan addresses how you can increase the usability of telehealth and create ease for everyone, including those who are not computer savvy.
Create your plan around the following points:
- What periphery technology do you need to implement telehealth? If you have mobile devices or a device with the internet, you already have what it takes to implement telehealth.
- Define what services you are going to offer virtually, keeping in mind the scope of those services
- Have communication channels in place to communicate with patients under a variety of circumstances
- Provide a short orientation to the technology, system navigation, and telehealth environment to help patients understand virtual healthcare services
- Develop a feedback loop to collect feedback from patients and providers, which helps identify bottlenecks
- Make sure operational protocols such as scheduling and timelines are in place along with functional internet
- Train clinical teams on the use of technology
6. Implement the Plan
By this step, you can put your telehealth system into action.
When your telemedicine system is live- whether it is an application or desktop software- you need to put a mechanism to learn how it is going.
The feedback loop you decided on in the planning stage can help you find out the usability of the system. If there are any blockages, you can identify and tweak them as soon as they pop up.
As much as it is essential to check how the system is going, you also need to set periodic measurements to track how you align with your goals.
If there is an area where you are falling short, you can course correct it in time.
Use this checklist to see if your plan is working effectively:
- Providers and patients can navigate the system well
- Providers feel at ease and have reduced burnout
- Operational efficiency has boosted
- The reach of your facility has increased, and you may be getting remote patients from outside the vicinity
- You have multi-level support to tackle the untimely needs of patients and the downtime of technology
Do you know what are the barriers to telehealth implementation?
Discuss common challenges with implementing telehealth and how to overcome them.
After COVID-19, telehealth is becoming more approachable. However, there are still a few challenges that healthcare organizations may face while implementing telehealth.
Below are two common challenges and effective ways to cope with them:
● Lack of trust in telehealth
Many patients think the care they receive through telehealth is substandard. They believe they may not have access to the same level of information about their well-being compared to in-person physical exams.
To build patient trust, healthcare providers can ask their opinion on telehealth to address their concerns or offer incentives to increase telehealth usability.
● Fear of data compromise
Because of recent cyber attacks in healthcare, patients are bound to think telehealth is not secure.
In fact, the data shared during telehealth services is potentially vulnerable and represents a possible threat.
To address this concern, practitioners need to implement the right practices to protect data. This includes utilizing the latest security technology, providing employees with up-to-date HIPAA compliance training, and communicating with patients about how providers take measures to protect their personal information.
Define what are the telehealth key components.
Telehealth is the use of communication technology to offer healthcare services remotely by enabling two-way interaction between healthcare providers and patients. The key components of telehealth are store-and-forward, live video, mobile health, and remote patient monitoring technologies.
Describe how to use telehealth to improve patient care and outcomes.
Telehealth or virtual visits offer patients easy access to instant care and allow them to consult with doctors anytime.
This instant access to care helps improve care outcomes through:
- Better control of infectious diseases
- Authorization to a family member to join the patient during the consultation with doctors
- Better assessment for specialty practitioners
- Quick scheduling and easy follow-up appointments
- Medication management as providers can change any dosage or medication in a timely fashion.
Like any other healthcare app development, there is a step-by-step process for developing a telemedicine app. The steps include:
- Asking a telemedicine software development company or a developer for a quote
- Defining the scope of a telemedicine app MVP
- Developing the code of the app, testing it, and fixing bugs
- Approving the app demo
- Rolling out the app in the market
To build a telemedicine platform, you can follow the same steps as above in developing a telemedicine app.
From getting a quote and creating a scope of the project to developing a medical app and testing it to its final launch, the process is the same.