The Starter Guide to Telehealth Technology

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Telehealth will continue to be the leading technology investment for healthcare organizations well into 2023 and beyond. This is supported by a 2022 U.S. survey that the growing global telemedicine market saw 38% of patients receiving care via telehealth.

Telemedicine has become an essential medical service, especially in the post-pandemic world. The market has expanded since the 2000s and in 2022, it was valued at $83.5 billion. It is expected to reach an astonishing $455.3 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 24% over the next eight years.

Despite its impressive growth, the accelerated adoption of telehealth has left many industry leaders with questions about the implementation process and how it might affect workflows, staff, resources, and other concerns about data security and patient health records.

Key considerations for healthcare organizations and stakeholders

Functionality: The right telemedicine platform should have the necessary features and capabilities to meet your organization's and patients' specific needs. This may include video conferencing, secure messaging, electronic health records (EHR) integration, and connected medical devices.

User-friendliness: The platform should be easy for both clinicians and patients to use, with clear instructions and intuitive interfaces. User-friendliness can make all the difference during adoption when clinicians might be unsure about new tech.

Compatibility: The right telehealth platform should be compatible with your organization's existing technology infrastructure, including EHR systems, mobile devices, and other hardware and software.

Data security and privacy: Any good telemedicine solution should have robust security measures in place to protect patient data and comply with relevant regulations, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in the U.S. Choose a provider who takes security seriously.

Customer support: Reliable technical support, responsive customer service, and customized training should be available through whichever technology provider you choose. Throughout each stage of implementation, the right partner can be a game-changer.

Cost-effectiveness: The platform should be cost-effective for the organization, considering factors such as licensing fees, hardware and software requirements, and potential revenue from telehealth services.

Importance of telehealth return on investment (ROI)

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported an alarming rise in workplace violence against healthcare workers, with nurses reporting 5,217 on-the-job assaults in the second quarter of 2022 (an average of 57 assaults per day). At the same time, burnout continues to be a significant problem for physicians, with over 50% reporting feeling burned out and 23% reporting depression, according to Medscape's 2023 Physician Burnout & Depression report.

Fortunately, telehealth can positively impact both issues. It can optimize  staffing resources for care delivery, reduce staff burnout, and improve working conditions and patient outcomes. With proper telehealth integration, physicians and nurses can spend less time per patient without compromising the quality of care. Also, patients who are seen proactively via telehealth often need less in-person care for the same issue, decreasing unnecessary labor and risk for providers.

It's essential to ensure a seamless transition of staff workflows, or you risk overwhelming them with another hurdle, instead of providing a tool that offers more support for them. Consider these steps to help you get the most out of telemedicine.

Get the most out of telemedicine

STEP 1: Prepare for virtual care

Before implementing telehealth solutions, it's important to address any internal resistance that may arise due to a change in existing routines. Change can be incredibly challenging for healthcare systems under stress, where there's likely to be negative feedback about trying something new.

Resistance to telehealth solutions is a significant obstacle, and rushing implementation can be detrimental. The key to success is proactive preparation, including involving all stakeholders, determining budget and ROI, creating a plan, and developing training and job aides before adoption starts.

STEP 2: Set realistic expectations and outcomes

When implementing telehealth solutions, it's essential to set realistic expectations and outcomes. Many healthcare organizations (particularly those in rural communities) expect their legacy systems, older devices and sometimes-spotty internet connections will be problematic for telehealth integration, but these are no longer the most significant hurdles. In fact, technology alone accounts for less than 10% of telehealth obstacles.

The main hurdles to telehealth implementation lie in bridging the digital literacy gap, not the technology itself. Learning new tech and processes takes time, so you must provide the time and support for your providers during adoption. Choosing user-friendly software and setting realistic expectations are critical to getting widespread buy-in from both sides of the healthcare relationship. Make sure that patients and providers know what’s expected of them and how new tech will streamline their workflows, bring in revenue and provide better outcomes overall.

STEP 3: Outline potential operational impacts

Telehealth integration takes time, but the proper solution leads to more efficient systems for healthcare workers. To optimize these benefits, it's important to consider the challenges that many healthcare workers face on a daily basis. Many providers are already overworked, so your chosen telemedicine solution should create more efficiencies, not more work.

Start by choosing a telehealth solution that seamlessly integrates with existing workflows and is easy to learn and use. Proper training and time to complete that training are essential. The goal is to save time, support quality care, and improve patient outcomes while supporting your providers from beginning to end.

STEP 4: Maximize ROI with telehealth integration

Customization is vital when choosing a telehealth provider, and adoption is critical to maximizing ROI. However, it’s just as important to continue optimize systems after the implementation to maximize investment. You know telehealth solutions can increase efficiency and improve patient outcomes, but how do you tell the community about new accessible services? How do you help patients transition? The goal should be to open the digital doors as wide as possible: include more patients, optimize operational costs, and continue to grow and improve over time.

Your choice of a telehealth technology provider isn’t something you leave to chance.To ensure that you make the right choice – for the shrot and long term – vet all options available to you, understand their capabilities, and then comparethe functionalities to your operational needs.

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Keri Souza is vice president of marketing at AMD Global Telemedicine, a provider of virtual care technology and telehealth solutions. Keri leads with over 20 years of experience overseeing the marketing planning and strategies of various B2B technology products.