By Lisa Miller, CEO and founder, VIE Healthcare Consulting.
Telehealth is far more than a technology that allows patients to be monitored virtually within a hospital by a specialist or at home by a provider. Although these are key areas for hospitals to utilize telehealth for patients to access specialists and for home care – there is so much more.
My definition of telehealth is that it is a healthcare strategy to be utilized to dramatically improve the care of patients and communities and to support families who care for patients.
4 Ways Telehealth Can Improve Hospital Operations
- Telehealth can aid in reducing hospital readmissions as patient behaviors account for most of the readmissions from medication nonadherence, not scheduling follow-up appointments and, not having access to equipment or supplies.
- Proactively utilizing telehealth for high-risk patients and for the elderly, to maintain care at home and ensure health outcomes.
- Innovative areas where telehealth can be used include rehabilitation care, mental health resources, and even second opinions.
- Telehealth can be used within hospital marketing campaigns to increase awareness and utilization of the service.
As a seasoned industry expert in the healthcare industry, and the CEO and founder of VIE Healthcare Consulting, I am considered a trusted advisor to hospital leaders on operational strategies within margin improvement, process improvements, technology/telehealth, the patient experience, and growth opportunities.
Since founding VIE in 1999, my team and I have achieved over $785 million in non-salary cost savings and revenue improvements for clients globally. My goal is to continuously encourage hospital leaders to achieve their boldest vision and in order to help them do so, I have created the healthcare sector’s only cost savings strategy methodology that is proven to extract unnecessary costs.
For healthcare providers, developing a specific telehealth strategy is key to your overall strategic plan. To begin, I will provide you with five self-assessment strategies to help you further define, develop and deploy a comprehensive telehealth strategy in your organization.
It is imperative that you understand what it is that you want to achieve for your organization, before implementing a telehealth strategy, and to do so, I have created this five-step self-assessment, to help you get started and understand what telehealth opportunities can arise for your organization.
Additionally, if you already have telehealth practices in place, these five questions will help you determine how to fully utilize telehealth to benefit not only your practice but also your patients.
Five steps to self-assess your organizations’ telehealth opportunities:
- Where do you want to achieve growth in your organization?
- What is your complex health patient population?
- Where is the coordination of care opportunities?
- What are your value-based payment models where you can incorporate telehealth for better quality patient outcomes?
- What new areas of telehealth can you expand into?
Each of the above questions plays a crucial role in determining how to maximize and optimize your organization’s telehealth footprint as they are centered around organizational goals, patient populations, and needs, whether or not your organization has a need for telehealth, how to incorporate existing payment models into the system and how to source new opportunities with telehealth if you currently have an existing telehealth model.
Payment models are crucial to establishing early on, as the telehealth industry currently does not have an optimized strategy on how physicians are compensated when they have online patient appointments. A payment model must be implemented to ensure physicians are fairly compensated for their time, and also to determine how patients are billed, and where integrations between telehealth and in-person patient care.
With that being said, here are the six strategies that will help your organization establish its very own telehealth footprint:
- Make telehealth easy to access and use for patients. Do they understand the process? How can they get billed? The setup process and how do they schedule?
- Improve your current telehealth applications. Are there areas like scheduling that need to be improved?
- Look for gaps that need to be filled such as focusing on telehealth for the elderly or telerehabilitation services
- Marketing and communication. Its foundational market and communicate your organization’s telehealth capabilities. Patients want educational materials to understand how they can access as much care through real-time virtual services and also remote monitoring services.
- Ensure you are utilizing the correct codes, maximizing the value of the revenue opportunities.
- Remember telehealth is about expanding care which means an opportunity to expand revenue from greater utilization and from incentive payments from improved quality metrics. It should also be utilized to protect your revenue. Protection from readmission is an example and in most cases, unnecessary costs due to a patient coming back to the hospital within 30 days of their original stay. Telehealth can improve the patient experience and increase patient satisfaction scores.
Overall, telehealth is a great resource and can provide a unique value proposition to patients and physicians alike, but it is crucial to consider all of the above factors, to ensure the service is effectively implemented.