Implementing telehealth visits across your physician practices means many moving parts. In this section, you’ll find an overview of implementation phases and tasks, with a corresponding sample project plan that serves as a starting point for your organization.
A key first step in a successful implementation is defining your overall telehealth strategy. Establishing a strategy along with guiding principles and measures of success prior to implementation allows for clear direction and alignment across all departments involved. Once you’ve established strategy and guiding principles, it’s time to implement.
We’ve broken out implementation into four key phases:
1. Mobilize: The implementation process kicks off here, as you organize people and resources, determine the clinical scope for telehealth visits and execute key agreements, including the purchase or licensing of the technology that will support telehealth services.
You’re encouraged to name a leader whose role is to drive the effort for the provider group, include the right people, oversee the planning and launch of telehealth visits and keep the program going over time. Experts to involve in your organization likely include legal, clinical, scheduling, claims/billing, information technology and marketing professionals. Practices who have a strong team supporting their telehealth efforts have more success in establishing official processes and maintaining operations in the future.
2. Prepare: Key operational decisions are made and capabilities are put into place during this phase. Critical steps to consider include:
Defining performance metrics and how they will be measured and reported
Identifying the right technology
Planning electronic medical record (EMR) integration
Understanding the regulatory landscape in your state
During this phase, you also may want to begin to inform eligible patients of the coming service.
3. Launch: Prior to go-live, you’ll test technology and processes to make sure things are consistently working well. Once you’re confident they are, it’s time to activate telehealth visits.
4. Sustain: Once telehealth visits are underway, monitoring operations, performance and satisfaction will help you identify opportunities for improvement. You’ll also want to consider ongoing adoption and promotion efforts for physicians and patients.
Determining how you’ll measure success is a key activity prior to the launch of telehealth visits. Some areas to measure are patient satisfaction, provider satisfaction, clinical outcomes, cost reduction and operational metrics.
Tracking patient feedback is an essential piece of developing an effective telehealth program. The feedback will provide actionable information for improvement. A comprehensive patient survey gathers patient feedback on many elements of a telehealth encounter, such as usefulness, ease of use, effectiveness, reliability and satisfaction. When survey results indicate negative feedback, process improvement plans can be created.
Patient surveys can be hosted directly on a telehealth platform and administered after a telehealth visit. Surveys can also be sent to the patient using other modalities, including email or mail. Surveying the patient as soon as possible after a visit is ideal for accurate results.