Telehealth is clearly one of the top buzzwords in the healthcare industry for 2017. Does that mean your practice should begin offering it? How do you know if it’s right for your patient population? How hard is it to implement in your office? What type of training is involved? Is the technology expensive? Will your practice benefit from being able to offer telehealth visits? These are just some of the questions that quickly come to mind when clinicians are considering adding telehealth this year. Hopefully, we can clear a few things up for you.
Some healthcare providers are a little wary of adding yet another piece of technology to their practice. After all, the past decade has brought all of us from a life of paper patient files into the world of electronic health records. It’s also added automated appointment reminders, e-Faxing, patient portals, smartphone apps and an assortment of other digital services that no one heard of until just a few years back. Now enter telehealth technology. Is this going to be yet another piece of technology that is expensive to purchase, requires costly training and will add even more stress to my already overwhelmed staff? The short answer is, “No.” In all actuality, telehealth is easy, inexpensive and will boost your bottom line instead of draining it.
Think of telehealth like Facetiming someone from an iPhone® or calling someone with Skype®. More than likely, a large percentage of your patients under 60 have had some type of experience with this technology. An even bigger percentage of patients under 50 will have made a phone call with their computer or used a video conferencing app with their smartphone. There are telehealth apps that are as easy as these types of technology.
An even better feature of telehealth is that it is extremely affordable to add to your practice. In fact, other than potentially adding an additional computer, there are many options that allow you to start offering telehealth with little to no upfront fees. You simply install the software and start letting your patients know that telehealth visits are now available. All the patient needs to do is download the telehealth app to their smartphone or computer.
How it Works
When a patient wants to schedule a telehealth visit, they simply call the office like they normally would to schedule an appointment. When it is time for the appointment to begin, the patient receives a text message that includes a link they will click on to begin the appointment. When they click the link, the telehealth app will open and their visit will begin. You will see the patient and the patient will see you!
Features to Look For
Integration will be key for the telehealth technology you choose. If your EHR vendor offers it, that’s great. Make sure it’s not an outside partner that’s going to be providing the service because that’s not truly integrated. If you have to log out of one platform to log into another, that can create a higher risk for communication errors. However, if you can start your telehealth visit from right inside your EHR, you should be good to go.
Another key feature for telehealth technology is seamless billing. In other words, you should be able to easily create claims the exact same way you do for a regular office visit inside your EHR. There should be no additional installation required and you should be able to bill the claim right from the telehealth module.
Finally, geo-based pharmacy recommendations will be huge for the patients who are on the road. This will be the population of patients that will most likely use telehealth the most. For instance, traveling salespeople, truck drivers, seniors who spend part of the year south or anyone who is away from home but needs to see the doctor. Being able to identify their location and tell them where the closest pharmacy is will be a convenience your patient will truly appreciate.
There’s a reason that telehealth is one of the fastest growing services for private practice. It’s easy to start up. It’s an added convenience for your patients. And finally, it’s going to add to your bottom line. If you would like to learn more about the iSALUS Healthcare Telehealth App, AnywhereCare, click here: AnywhereCare.