6 strategies to maximize digital health solutions

October 1, 2020 - by Meera Vadali

Physician use of digital telehealth solutions has increased by 167 percent in the last 2 years, a Merrit Hawkins survey finds. 

Let’s be clear: telehealth technology did, in fact, exist before 2020. But nothing pushes people to get on a bandwagon quite like a raging pandemic. Wariness of the technological lift fizzled as the necessity to serve patients and recover revenue came to the forefront. Combined with FCC grants and relaxed reimbursement regulations, digital telehealth solutions emerged as a clear answer to new demands placed on healthcare delivery. 

With no signs of the pandemic ending in the U.S., multiple reports show telehealth — poised to be a $250B industry — is here to stay.  As a result, more and more health systems are looking to implement a long-term telehealth solution. While this is currently happening because of immediate needs, telehealth’s versatile uses continue to grow. 

Each telehealth strategy should be different depending on the needs of the health system. Part of this is also about picking the right technology out of the many existing competitors. 

In order to make the most of this service for both you and your patients, consider these six strategies: 

Understand your patient population

It would be a shame to make a service available only for patients not to utilize it. Understand your patients and what they value. 

For example, successful telehealth adoption might require other complementary services or information such as language translation assistance. Providing support staff such as patient navigators may be eligible for reimbursement depending on the insurer and type of health system. 

For patients who lack wifi or webcams, some health systems allow devices to be used by appointment in clinic parking lots with free wifi hotspots.  

When live video isn’t possible and language barriers are a problem, store-and-forward (asynchronous) telehealth may be more suitable — and cheaper — for cases that aren’t urgent. 

Similarly, the needs of a small private practice doing mostly routine preventive care visits (well-checks, annual physicals, etc.) will differ greatly from a large health system servicing out-patient, in-patient, and emergency care. 

Make an outreach plan

On the note of patient adoption, inform patients of their options to receive telehealth services, especially if they weren’t easily accessible prior to the pandemic. One way to do this is through connected care services that can reach a large number of patients at once through text or email.  

Aim for seamless staff workflows

There will always be challenges when implementing new technology, but it doesn’t hurt to look for something that will cause minimal hassle. After all, maximizing telehealth means it doesn’t create more trouble than it’s worth in the long run.

When demoing products, look for ease-of-use. Specifically, seek out digital telehealth solutions that unify workflows. This means it integrates with your EHR and existing third-party vendors. 

Consider in-house telehealth support if possible

A recent KLAS report found that many health systems adopted telehealth solutions too quickly, without properly vetting them. This coupled with the existing challenges of successful implementations required significant tech support.

Additionally, daily operations such as data handling and claims are of timely importance as reimbursement under the CARES Act shifts.

Be warned of all-in-one digital telehealth solutions

It’s natural to want a one-stop shop when it comes to healthcare technology such as telehealth and supporting functions. In this case, quality usually always beats quantity.

Healthcare IT vendors who hastily added telehealth to their digital offerings performed poorly in the KLAS report. Instead, choose a product dedicated solely to providing the best telehealth experience possible

All-in-one solutions tend to compromise user experience and encounter frequent system crashes as the volume of patient visits increase

Look at the solution, but also at the company

Consider the company behind the solution to determine whether a long-term relationship is possible: 

  • Does it have tech and customer support teams? 
  • Do they explain their product in an easily understandable way? 
  • Does it provide data insights on how to reach goals and improve upon them? 

At WELL, we strive to help you make the most of your digital telehealth solution

Our dedicated patient communication hub enables seamless automated message delivery to maximize the value of existing digital telehealth solutions. 

WELL’s Telehealth Integration informs, reminds, confirms, coordinates, and links to patient appointments. This eliminates manual outreach and data entry by staff and reduces no-shows through conversion from in-person to virtual appointments. 

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