By Brandy Scaravaglione
Demand for telemedicine is growing among patients who seek virtual care from their doctors. Reports have shown that telemedicine has grown so much in popularity that it will be mainstream within 5-10 years. Providers who do not integrate telemedicine into their practice will be lost in the past.
So what’s stopping them? Most providers do not know where to begin and do not have time to research options. Below is a list of helpful tips on how to successfully integrate virtual care into your practice and to make sure you are selecting the right telemedicine partner.
1. Customize and set up the technology to meet your needs. What can be daunting to many providers when integrating telemedicine into their medical toolkit is the learning curve that comes with it. Start off with a discovery period so that the practice and telemedicine partner can work together to evaluate and understand the workflow and needs. This includes looking at the practice’s current employee structure, capabilities, patient demographic and areas needing assistance. No practice is the same so creating a customized workflow is key to ensuring a successful long-term partnership with telemedicine.
2. Define use cases for your practice. Many physicians ask, “When is the right time to use telemedicine?” While it varies on the type of practice and its specialties, it’s important to have a strong foundational understanding for when to use virtual care. Your telemedicine partner should take the time to understand the standards and expectations of a practice’s clientele. These are typically common illnesses that do not require a physical exam as well as follow up appointments to discuss test results or new medications.
3. Educate all staff and patients. Additionally, your telemedicine partner should take the time to educate all staff on the types of conditions that can be treated virtually, including the receptionists who are scheduling the appointments to the nurses and physicians who are seeing the patients. It is important to also educate patients about when they can be using telemedicine by displaying educational flyers and brochures in exam rooms as well as sending emails explaining virtual care.
4. Go live. Practice meeting with patients while a telemedicine specialist is on hand. If there are any questions, concerns or problems that arise along the way, providers can have ease of mind that someone is there to assist. After a few trial rounds, you should be fully quipped to practice telemedicine alone.
5. Continue to modify as needed. It is important to constantly evaluate a practice’s model to ensure the virtual care is being maximized and meeting the needs and expectations of physicians and patients. Assess performance by reviewing reports provided to you by the platform detailing the volume of successful virtual exams, length of visits, number of poor connections and other relevant information regarding visits. As laws and guidelines change, a telemedicine provider should keep a practice and its system updated.
Virtual care is the future of medicine, and ExamMed is spearheading the integration of telemedicine into brick-and-mortar medical practices. By equipping practices with its innovative virtual healthcare technology, doctors can provide top-quality care to their patients and allow for more patients to be seen. While telemedicine may not be the tool for every situation, it is a useful tool to complement traditional in-office care. ExamMed is committed to providing telemedicine best practices, on-site training and general guidance throughout its partnerships.
Brandy Scaravaglione is ExamMed Vice President, Strategic Initiatives