Adding telemedicine to your practice is an effective way to increase revenues, gain additional flexibility, and secure patient loyalty. But like any new endeavor, it is important to set yourself up for success with careful planning and a thoughtful approach to how it will impact your practice, your staff, and your patients. We’ve helped a significant number of practices integrate telemedicine and here’s what we’ve learned are the keys to a program that thrives.
Set SMART Goals
The only way to determine if you are succeeding with your telemedicine program is to clearly define what you want to accomplish. We’re big fans of SMART goals. That means goals that are (S) specific, (M) measurable, (A) achievable, (R) relevant, and (T) time-bound. Your goals might be related to the number of patients seen with telemedicine, decreased wait times, increased revenue, improved patient retention, or anything that aligns with the top objectives of your practice. Once you have your goals in place, establish a cadence for checking your progress. It might be weekly, monthly, or quarterly, but the point is to get in the habit of managing results.
Choose the Right Technology
Your video-visit program will only be effective if people will use it. You should keep in mind the needs of providers, patients, and staff when evaluating the technology. A few questions to ask:
- Is it easy to use for every role?
- Is it compliant with HIPAA and other patient confidentiality regulations and policies?
- Can my team and my customers get help when they need it?
- Will it integrate with my EHR or practice management system?
- Does it include insurance eligibility verification to ensure reimbursement?
Train Your Team
Not every case is right for a video-visit, so it is essential that everyone on the staff knows when it is a good idea to suggest or accept a request for a remote encounter. Follow-up visits, medication checks, test result reviews, and skin irritations are usually perfect for video. Acute symptoms, annual exams, and traumatic injuries are generally not. In addition to knowing when to schedule a remote visit, the staff should understand how to use the technology and how to explain it to patients.
Market Telemedicine to Your Patients
Some people will get very excited as soon as they learn you have telemedicine as an option. Others will take more time to get comfortable with the approach, and some folks will never take advantage of it. That’s OK, but don’t assume that just because patients don’t jump all in right away that they never will. Marketing telemedicine to your patients is not a one-time event, nor is it a single activity. Instead, the most successful practices use a multi-touch and multi-channel approach to marketing video visits.
Here are some things that work:
- Mention the option of telemedicine during visits
- Suggest telemedicine when a follow-up appointment is scheduled
- Ask patients if it would be OK to review test results with a video-visit rather than just a phone call
- Add information about your telemedicine to your website and link to resources so that patients can learn more about it
- If you don’t have a patient newsletter, consider starting one and include helpful tips and other information about telemedicine each time you send it
- Place signs and literature in your office
- Blog about your experiences and invite patients to create guest posts or provide quotes on why they love video-visits
Use Telemedicine to Attract New Patients
If you are interested in growing your practice, telemedicine is a great way to do it. Today’s consumers, especially younger tech-savvy ones are starting to make the availability of video-visits a key consideration when choosing a provider, so it makes sense to let the community know that your program is available.
You might try:
- Advertising the fact that your practice has video visits
- Making sure that your website is optimized to show up in Google searches for keywords with telemedicine terms and your location
- Reaching out to the press to let them know that you are available as a source for stories related to telehealth
- Attending or sending representatives to health fairs or other events where there may be an opportunity to educate the public
The advantages of telemedicine for providers and patients are significant. It is no surprise that this new method of delivering care is picking up steam fast. It isn’t difficult to get your program off to a great start. Follow these best practices and adjust them to your particular needs and you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.