by Lydia Pineault
Telehealth may be a relatively new concept to the healthcare industry but with the age of the internet, it is moving at lightening speed! The ability for providers to deliver digital services to their patients is revolutionizing the field, but very few industry standards exist when it comes to these platforms. This article is designed to guide providers when it comes to choosing the right telehealth vendor.
The telehealth field is changing, and changing fast! It is changing the way providers are delivering care and the way patients choose to interact with their doctors. Telehealth can provide a widespread method to increase the affordability and access of healthcare in the modern age. Patients no longer need to schedule appointments months in advance and sit in crowded waiting rooms to see their provider. They can do so in the comfort of their own home – through video chat!
The other piece that is driving the interest in telehealth services is the widespread availability of mobile health apps. Patients are using these apps more and more to manage their care independently, therefore reducing time spent in clinics.
We know that Telehealth is going to be a critical part of the healthcare industry going forward, but navigating the world of digital care can be confusing. To help with this, iTether has compiled a list of the Top 5 Things to Look for in a Telehealth Vendor.
1. HIPAA Compliance
It is critical that the vendor you choose to work with is HIPAA compliant. Patient care and communication delivered through digital methods still must comply with HIPAA in the same way an in-person appointment would.
Patient Health Information (PHI) must only be shared with written consent from a patient, and data should be stored in an encrypted format for further protection. Ensure that your vendor conducts regular security audits of both their systems and their staff permissions. Also check to see that their staff have undergone HIPAA compliance training on an annual basis.
2. Workflow Integration
Any change or disruption to an existing work flow will take time and effort for your staff to adjust to. If you want to minimize challenges and maximize efficiency, it is crucial that the telehealth system you implement integrates with the workflow you already have. Your vendor should take the time to sit down with you and your team to truly understand your workflow. This will allow both of you to determine how best to implement telehealth into your practice.
Workflow integration includes integration with your EHR. Through EHR integration, you eliminate duplicate patient notes, centralize information and create efficiency in your billing. This will increase staff adoption of the new platform and increase revenue by having a streamlined process.
As your practice grows, you want to make sure that your partners can grow with you. Some questions to ask to determine scale-ability are:
- How many patients can we accommodate on this platform?
- How many program types can we have?
- Can we continue to add/change health content as best practices in the field change?
- What type of on-going support do you offer for our staff?
You don’t know what you don’t know! Data is essential to making sure you are being effective in your program. By engaging in data analytics you will be able to better track treatment outcomes and course correct when needed.
Telehealth vendors are uniquely set up to deliver real-time data on patient engagement, treatment outcomes and staff performance. By making data-driven decisions around your patients’ care you are setting them up to have the best possible outcomes.
5. Holistic Approach to Healthcare
Healthcare is moving towards a “whole-person” approach to treating patients. Much of what goes into a person’s overall health happens outside of the clinic walls. How are you supporting this aspect of health?
One way you can continue to support your patients after they leave is by offering evidence-based health content and social determinants of health (SDOH) resources on a digital platform. Leverage your telehealth vendor to help you do this. The benefits will be readily seen and you will be ahead of the curve when it comes to your peers in the industry.
Hopefully, after reading this article you feel more confident when it comes to vetting different telehealth vendors. If you still have questions or if you want more information about what iTether Technologies is doing please email us at engage@iTetherTech.com