Telemedicine: Its meaning and benefits
Telemedicine refers to the delivery of healthcare remotely, either through a video or phone conference. Telemedicine solutions have been around for decades, yet have recently spiked following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefits that telemedicine offers both practitioners and patients are vast; individuals can receive high-quality health care from the comfort of their own homes, and practitioners can broaden their clientele and accessibility. With this shift to remote care, there comes a responsibility to relearn certain important aspects of working in the healthcare industry, including insurance coverage in telehealth, how to manage appointment scheduling, learning remote compliance factors, and understanding healthcare insurance terminologies. At the end of the day, the healthcare industry is being revolutionized by the benefits offered by telemedicine - if you want to remain competitive, it’s time your business also took the leap.
Main types of telehealth services physicians can provide
When it comes to telehealth, there is a range of different services that physicians can provide, including the following:
Medicare telehealth visits
These refer to telehealth visits that replace a typical in-person visit that comes under Medicare. Depending on the patient and the care that they require, these services can include inpatient, outpatient, and follow-up appointments.
Virtual check-ins (Brief)
Typically, a check-in would be any telehealth appointment that only takes 5-10 minutes. This could be a brief follow-up service following a patient being discharged from your facility. Telehealth services are beneficial for this type of check-in, as it allows the patient to receive care from the comfort of their own whilst simultaneously freeing up resources at your practice.
A telephone visit is any other medical service you deliver to patients using telehealth. These are coded depending on the length of the visit, usually between 5-10 minutes, 11-20 minutes, or 21-30 minutes.
Getting started on your appointments for new patients
If you decide to implement telehealth services, there are a range of different aspects regarding preparing for appointments that you need to be aware of.
Provide training and support any clinician concerns
Prior to your first appointment with a patient using telehealth, you need to ensure your staff is trained and prepared for the service. Practitioners need to be aware of insurance and compliance guidelines, and they should feel comfortable raising any questions or concerns regarding how to manage a remote appointment.
Identify a comfortable space
Even though you don’t necessarily need a private office to conduct your telehealth appointments, you still need to find a comfortable and appropriate space. This means somewhere with good lighting, limited distractions, and minimal noise.
Set up and test your equipment
When you are creating a budget for your private practice, you need to factor in telehealth equipment, whether that’s an upgraded computer, microphone, camera, or remote medical devices. Before your appointments, you need to set all of this equipment up and ensure it is working adequately - as such, it is always a good idea to have a couple of test runs.
Prepare for the patient visit
Just like an in-person appointment, you need to properly prepare for a telehealth visit. This means communicating with your patient so they know what they need to do, and ensuring you have documentation and notes ready to go. Telehealth is likely a new thing for your patients as well, so you need to engage them and make sure they are as comfortable as possible.
Considerations during the appointment
There is a range of considerations you need to be aware of during telehealth appointments that may differ from your experience with in-person sessions. These include:
Confirm patient details
As soon as the appointment begins, you need to confirm your patient’s name and date of birth. This is especially important for first-time patients who you will not be able to visually recognize. Confirming these details will allow you to continue with the session and ensures you have the correct information available.
Although high-quality microphones facilitate good sound systems, there will always be a slight difference between talking over the phone and talking in person. You should speak clearly, articulate your words and ask the patient to repeat anything if you can’t hear what they have said.
Verbalize and clarify next steps
Towards the end of your appointment, you need to clarify the next steps for your patient’s treatment and actually say these out loud. This may include a follow-up appointment, treatment plan, or prescription for the patient.
Ask for patient feedback
As always, asking for feedback is the best way for you and your practice to improve. You should create a feedback form to give to clients after sessions, so you can identify areas within your business operations that are working well, and perhaps areas that need some improvement.
Use Carepatron for all your appointment scheduling needs
One of the best ways to manage the implementation of telehealth is by using healthcare software, and this is where Carepatron comes in. A highly integrated and sophisticated system, Carepatron offers healthcare businesses a wide range of benefits, including:
Every aspect of Carepatron is HIPAA compliant, meaning that patient data is encrypted at all times, and protected by other security measures. As you know, compliance is an integral aspect of working in healthcare, and Carepatron fulfills every aspect of a HIPAA compliance checklist for medical practices.
With automated reminder features, Carepatron reduces no-shows by up to 99%. These are sent out to patients prior to their upcoming appointments, ensuring they are prepared and ready for their booking.
Managing scheduling is a time-consuming aspect of operating a healthcare business that is simplified with Carepatron’s online booking system. It additionally gives more responsibility to patients, as they can find a time slot that suits their individual schedules, making it easier for everyone.
Electronic Health Records (EHR)
Carepatron’s EHR system increases the ability for documentation to be accessed and shared by authorized users. Essentially, as the EHR evaluation checklist shows, this facilitates better communication between both departments and facilities, and improves clinical outcomes.
Secure patient portal
With a secure patient portal, clients can access their appointment, payment, and medical information. This increases the transparency of the healthcare process and ensures patient needs are being heard at all times.
Integrations with other systems
Carepatron is highly interoperable, meaning it can be integrated with the systems that may already be in place at your business. Introducing software into your practice is one of the best tips to financially improve telehealth practice, and Carepatron allows this process to occur seamlessly.
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