Telehealth — i.e., the process of digital healthcare delivery — is rapidly transforming many of the fundamental aspects of healthcare, including:
- Improving communications and strengthening the bond between patients and clinicians
- Expanding the financial options available to payers and facility administrators
- Spreading access to quality care to the most remote corners of America
- Helping providers and payers achieve “Healthcare’s Triple Aim”
Success stories continue to dominate health news coverage: Take, for instance, the recent report from Healthcare Analytics News that Tallahassee Memorial has seen “huge” savings from a telehealth program that has “eased patient transitions, improved patient satisfaction, made more information available, reduced readmissions, and cut back on unwarranted trips to the emergency department.”
Today, the administrators at Tallahassee Memorial are fully on board with telehealth — “this is not a fad” or “the latest trend,” one pointedly says in the article. Yet, they admit to having experienced some apprehension over the selection process, and a feeling of being “overwhelmed by the number of opportunities and ideas circulating through the telehealth space,” as the NHA news report puts it.
H2: Checklist: Choosing the Right Telehealth Company
How, then, can leaders and administrators be expected to navigate an increasingly-crowded space to choose the telehealth company that best meets their specific operational needs and unique patient care goals? The good news is that the decision may be easier than you think! Over the years, our experts have compiled a checklist of recommended attributes. When choosing a telehealth company, then, it’s important to find a partner who …
- Can customize to meet your needs. Successfully implementing telehealth into your facility means choosing a service provider who can create a program fully customized to your needs. And the best way to do that is to seek a vendor who’s “going to listen to your needs and sit down and understand what your success criteria are,” and then create a telehealth program to meet those criteria, as Care Innovations® CEO Randy Swanson explains.
- Offers a turnkey telehealth solution. Committing to the concept of full customization and best meeting a facility’s specific needs, leading telehealth companies like Care Innovations offer a suite of telehealth and supporting services available either as a package or a la carte. “At Care Innovations we've put together a full turnkey operation including logistics, including clinical monitoring services, including enrollment — the pieces that need to be delivered in order to have a successful program,” as COO Marcus Grindstaff points out.
- Asks the right questions. To achieve this level of customization, your telehealth partner needs to fully understand your unique operational and clinical challenges. “Who are the patients we're trying to reach?” asks Care Innovations Program Executive Barbara Fullmer. “What are the goals? Are we reducing hospitalizations? Are we reducing readmissions? Are we improving adherence to H1C values? What are those metrics that we're trying to manage? What are the signals going to be to us that we're successful or not?”
- Can help reduce inefficiencies in your workflow. Concerned that setting up a new RPM program means starting from square one with electronic medical records? On the contrary, a quality telehealth company will collaborate with you to create a system that works with your existing workflows, minimizing the necessity for clinicians to have to perform double data entry or other onerous and unnecessary tasks, as our experts explain.
- Understands what technology to use in any given situation. It’s true that innovative, consumer-friendly technology is at the heart of any telehealth program — yet the program design must always come first. “The technology choices are based on who the population is, what kind of technologies are feasible for that population,” says Julie. “We think about the patient's point of view, the clinician’s point of view, and the caregiver’s point of view,” adds Randy. “And technology really serves as that bridge to connect all three of them, to lead to the best possible outcome … starting with an overall program design."
- Understands the financial stakes. It’s important to select a telehealth company with the know-how to use the technology to “actually drive down costs,” says Care Innovations® Chief Clinical Officer Julie Cherry (RN, MSN). “The shift to value-based care means that a health system needs to use its expensive resources, the hospitals, the most acute resources, to their fullest,” adds Marcus, “so that those most expensive resources, like the acute-care hospitals, can be used for the procedures which are absolutely necessary in that setting.”
- Makes the process easy for patients. Barbara also talks about the importance of making patients feel comfortable and engaged with their care: “We very quickly put together a personalized kit that will be delivered to their door within a couple of days,” she explains. “Then we contact them directly and welcome them to the program and help them walk through what the various piece/parts are in that kit, and make sure that they're comfortable using it.”
- Makes the process easy for clinicians. “We like to engage with the clinicians when we're designing a program,” says Barbara. “We’ll do a face-to-face training session, and we will log in together into their system and help them understand the simple details to creating a new patient, or managing a patient, or monitoring, or the premise of management by exception, where clinicians can direct their attention to those patients who need the most intervention and the most benefit to be given by the use of their expensive time and their valuable time.”
- Understands and empathizes with clinicians. It’s important to remember that telehealth “isn’t about replacing doctors and nurses,” in the words of Consumer Experience Expert Karissa Price-Rico, PhD. “It's about supplementing the great work that clinicians do today with additional information and additional interaction points with patients.” Ultimately, telehealth is an “enabler,” adds Marcus. “It really enhances a clinician's ability to reach out to their patients, to interact with their patients, in an environment which is the preferred environment for the patient.”
- Understands the importance of compliance and data security. “It's very important” that your telehealth service provider has “a long track record of strong compliance,” including FDA compliance, HIPAA compliance, and full privacy and security for patients, says Marcus. “At Care Innovations, we treat the PII (personally identifiable information) and PHI (private health information) that we're exposed to as though it were our own,” adds Barbara, explaining the importance of “security by design” and data encryption in transit and at rest.
- Can show documented ROI. As a co-creator of the Mississippi Diabetes Telehealth Network, Care Innovations was demonstrating successful outcomes back when other telehealth companies were just getting into the game. “If you look at the work we've done in Mississippi, it's a really good example of how it all rolls up,” says Marcus. “Between the governor, the state Medicaid organization and the University of Mississippi, we found that we can reduce healthcare costs by almost $3,400 per patient per year using remote patient management. In that environment, we've brought the whole system together and demonstrated that ROI.”
- Has the resources and longevity to scale with you. When choosing a telehealth company, it’s essential to select a service provider with the capacity to scale the program up to meet your future needs, and with the longevity to stick around and see it through. After all, as Barbara puts it, “our customer's success is our success — and we're highly vested in making sure they're successful.”
Interested in learning more about what sets the elite telehealth companies apart from the rest? We invite you to contact us here to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Care Innovations telehealth expert.