The rise of telemedicine in recent months has been swift, with many practices starting telemental and telepsychiatry for the first time (along with others who didn’t have it and didn’t really know where to start). For practices that don’t offer telemedicine right now or those looking to improve on a system you started up recently because of COVID-19, it’s important to have the right tools to create a lasting and effective system to offer more remote access and appointments for your clients.
1: Conduct a Feasibility Analysis
The first step before launching your telepsychiatry program is to conduct a feasibility analysis. This is not a feasibility study to determine whether telemental services are effective on a broad scale—many studies have shown they are—but is an analysis specific to your practice to determine tools and resources you need to launch an effective program, as well as the types of clients who can benefit most from these services.
2: Evaluate Telemedicine/Telehealth Software
There are a wide variety of telemed software programs available, so find one that:
- Meets your needs as a mental health practice, and not something that is designed for other medical specialties with a few tweaks to try and make it fit the very specific needs of mental health and behavioral health services
- Is easy to implement, without extensive installation requirements or the need for an IT department that you don’t have
- Offer extensive HIPAA protections as well as other security to protect against hackers
- Is accessible and intuitive for providers, staff, and clients
3: Adapt Your Workflows for Telemedicine
Many mental health practices make the mistake of using the same workflows for telemental services as they do for in-person visits. While you probably won’t need to reinvent the wheel entirely, modify workflows for telemedicine so your providers and patients have a good experience, and you provide the right level of care without missing something along the way.
4: Meet All Payer and Credentialing Requirements
Each state and site where you provide telemental services is likely to have its own credentialing requirements. In addition, if you bill insurance for your visits you may need to take specific steps with payers to get reimbursed for your telemedicine visits at the highest allowable rates. Use care during this process so you don’t miss any details that might make it harder to collect payment in the future.
5: Adapt Your Style to Telemental Platforms, and Practice in Advance
The way you come across on video will be different than in person, and it’s critical to adapt your style to the video platform. It’s also important to test the technology and practice before your first visit. Follow these key considerations specific to video visits:
- Set up a camera that is at or near eye level
- Look directly into the camera when you are speaking with a client, and not at your computer screen
- Close all other windows and shut off notifications so you won’t be distracted during your telemental visit
- Use a program that shows an image of how you appear to the client, but avoid looking at yourself during the exchange
- Understand that there might be a “lag” in your connection, and allow the patient to fully respond to your questions or comments
To learn more about how AdvancedMD can help you with telemedicine services, contact us today.