Telehealth offerings are expanding for many clinical practices, and not just in the field of patient care in a clinical setting. Many providers in a wide variety of practice settings are realizing the potential of virtual visits to improve access for patients and increase providers’ ability to care for more patients more efficiently. Healthcare resources—like time, clinical space, and staffing—are finite, so finding ways to scale up your telehealth can provide a new revenue stream, more potential patients, and more affordable and streamlined care for patients.
New Opportunities for Telehealth
As technology has advanced for telehealth services, people are finding innovative ways to use it to increase access in a variety of ways, including:
- Offering medication reviews, counseling, and prescription verification online through pharmacies.
- Tracking patient health information (temperature, pulse, blood pressure, glucose levels, etc.) and monitoring data in real time for chronic care management, creating opportunities for intervention before a patient ends up in the emergency room.
- Increasing access to neurologists with telestroke services, preserving brain function and saving lives for patients in areas with limited care.
- Addressing barriers to care, such as transportation challenges, that could prevent a patient from seeing a specialist.
- Expanding diagnostic screening, such as diabetes eye exams.
- Monitoring sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, using real-time data through an app or other wearable device while the patient sleeps in his or her own home.
- Providing clients with behavioral health access through telemedicine or telepsychiatry, eliminating barriers like transportation, longer wait times, or patients’ inability to get to regular appointments.
- Treating opioid-use disorders in rural areas that are hard-hit by the epidemic and have few clinicians available to treat patients who need help with addiction.
Getting Started: Scaling Your Telehealth Offerings
The list above includes several ways clinics and providers are using telehealth, but when you are ready to start offering this service to your patients, the most important thing is to start small and then scale up as you and your staff get more comfortable with the process.
- Select a telehealth vendor (a very important part of the process, and something we’ve covered in other blog posts).
- Identify a specific type of appointment or certain group of patients who you think could benefit from telehealth.
- Create workflows for the entire patient process including: scheduling, pre-visit evaluation, exam, and check-out, and post-visit follow-up; keep these as close to your current workflows as you can to make it easier for your staff.
- Test the technology from the provider and the user end.
- Launch a pilot to test out the platform with your select group of patients.
- Review and evaluate regularly so you can work out the kinks in the process.
In the next part of this blog post we’ll talk about how to optimize your telehealth once you launch the program. Talk to us today about our telehealth platform to find out how you can take the first step toward offering it to your patients and clients.
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