How To Choose a Telehealth Technology Platform
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the healthcare system to adapt at a breakneck pace. Perhaps no segment of the industry has experienced more rapid change than telehealth. In the last two years, telehealth has evolved from a niche service used only by the most tech-forward healthcare providers and consumers, to a foundational piece of the modern healthcare system. According to McKinsey, telehealth usage recently stabilized at levels 38 times higher than before the pandemic and accounts for up to 17% of outpatient and office visit claims since June 2020. With this dramatic change becoming the new normal, many healthcare organizations are assessing the landscape and thinking about how they want to manage their telehealth programs going forward.
Does Your Telehealth Solution Support Your Organization’s Long-Term Goals?
The rapid increase in demand for telehealth during the pandemic, coupled with loosened government restrictions, led many healthcare providers to seek out the fastest path to bring telehealth to their patients. Many chose consumer solutions like Zoom or Facetime to meet with patients because they were easy to bring online quickly. However, these platforms come with some significant drawbacks when used in a healthcare setting:
- Security concerns - Many consumer videoconferencing applications have limited security controls, especially when dealing with HIPAA compliance and PHI data. When considering a platform’s viability, It’s important for organizations to think about how well the platform supports data security and compliance.
- Data interoperability - With the rapid growth of all forms of healthcare applications, data in healthtech is becoming more siloed. An ideal telehealth platform for healthcare organizations should easily connect with the rest of your technology stack to share data and ensure care gaps are documented.
- Technology fatigue - Learning, implementing, and managing multiple pieces of software for each telehealth visit can create stress for staff and reduce the care team’s overall productivity and efficiency. When considering a new telehealth application, organizations should seek to minimize staff distractions and deliver a solution that seamlessly integrates with the core care management platform.
When looking for a long-term telehealth solution, organizations should carefully consider how well potential platforms align with their organizational risk policies, data interoperability, and technology guidelines to ensure long-term viability and value for the organization.
Is Your Telehealth Platform Healthcare-focused and HIPAA Compliant?
The changing legislative landscape plays a separate, significant, and sometimes overlooked, element influencing how healthcare organizations evaluate their telehealth programs. In the early phases of the pandemic, the Centers for Medicare Studies (CMS) loosened many of their guidelines around telehealth to enable providers to meet immediate patient needs. Many state legislations followed suit, enabling state Medicaid programs to perform similar tasks via telehealth. At this point, it is still unclear exactly where these regulations will land once the pandemic is but a distant memory, and telehealth has reached universal adoption rates. Healthcare organizations should consider that some of the changing guidelines and requirements may continue to evolve over time. They should select a telehealth platform that is committed to meeting the changing requirements of the healthcare industry, while simultaneously aligning with CMS guidance.
Does Your Telehealth Platform Improve the Patient Experience?
As the adoption of telehealth continues to mature, populations who routinely experience the healthcare system through a telehealth appointment will expand. Does your telehealth solution meet the needs of a broader audience? Will differing devices and levels of sophistication make the telehealth experience a challenge for some users? When selecting a telehealth solution, healthcare organizations need to consider the telehealth platform that maximizes each users’ experience, both for improving patients’ outcomes and for maximal care team efficiency.
For patients, this means reducing the barriers to usage. Does your chosen telehealth platform work on a variety of devices (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.)? Does it require downloading an app or can a user just click a link and join from their browser? Can individuals with differing disabilities and/or handicaps interact with the solution effectively? All of these pieces of the telehealth experience are potential additional hurdles for a patient to jump through that may limit their adoption of telehealth.
Does Your Telehealth Solution Improve Care Team Efficiency and Effectiveness?
After seeing significant increases in care team burnout and attrition during the pandemic, many healthcare organizations are hesitant to add more responsibilities to the care team’s responsibility. When considering a telehealth platform, organizations need to consider the added complexity of their tech stack and the effort that effective usage will require from the care team. Does the telehealth solution easily integrate with the other software that the care team has to use? How many different technologies can the care team successfully manage during a virtual appointment? Healthcare organizations will see the most value from a well-integrated telehealth platform that makes the care team more efficient and allows the data from a telehealth appointment to be ingested into the larger tech ecosystem, reducing manual entry and administrative tasks required for each telehealth appointment.
HELIOSvisit® Is The Future of Telehealth
VirtualHealth has been a pioneer in telehealth since long before the COVID-19 pandemic. We created HELIOSvisit® specifically to address the telehealth needs of leading value-based care organizations. HELIOSvisit® offers the care team a seamless way to launch a fully secure and HIPAA-compliant telehealth visit from within their care management software with the click of a button. Patients love HELIOSvisit® because it does not require any additional apps to download; they simply click a link that they receive via email or text right from their mobile device. Care teams love HELIOSvisit® because it is fully integrated with the larger HELIOS® care management platform so they can quickly initiate calls with one click, and all interactions are automatically logged. If you would like to see HELIOS® or HELIOSvisit® in action, connect with us to learn more.