Telehealth enthusiasts sometimes make the mistake of leaping into using a third-party Direct-to-Consumer app or buying a telehealth solution without defining their strategy. The typical result: a wasted investment and frustrated staff and patients.
To build a virtual care program that drives both better patient outcomes and cost savings, don’t miss this critical first step: define your challenges!
Often teams will begin by focusing on technology, which leads to selecting a virtual health platform based mostly on technological integration factors. But utilization should be clinically driven and focused on the provider and patient experience.
Begin instead by working with your service line leaders to identify the pain points your organization is trying to solve. Are you trying to reach patients in remote areas? Improve patient quality outcomes? Increase patient volume without a brick-and-mortar expansion? Manage capacity more efficiently? Improve patient satisfaction scores?
Be specific about your clinical and cost challenges. Instead of simply deciding to compensate for a local shortage of specialists, define the disciplines where you need help – whether that’s an acute stroke intervention, neonatal unit support, or a mobile virtual platform that expands care out into patient homes in the community. Once you’ve outlined the most urgent needs, you can reverse engineer your program to solve those challenges.
At the same time, you’ll want to consider your long-term objectives too. What are the organization’s strategic goals and how might virtual health support them? Don’t limit yourself to just immediate needs; be a visionary and outline a possible phased approach, even if it might change in the future.
This is also the ideal stage to talk to telemedicine experts, such as the American Telemedicine Association. Other providers who’ve implemented virtual care programs can share both the mistakes they made and the best practices they learned – and save you considerable time and effort.
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