Incorporating Telemedicine Services into Your Practice

JAMES DZiOBEK III and RYAN MARLING
PPRC STAFF

Patients are looking for convenient ways to access health care services when they are unable to be physically present for a traditional office exam. Over the past couple of years, some physician practices across the country have started using telemedicine technologies in innovative ways to increase patients’ access to services.

A successfully implemented telemedicine service can increase access to care, and may also improve the operational efficiency of the practice and patient experience. The Physician Practice Resource Center’s recent webinar, Integrating Telemedicine into Practice (presented by Adam Licurse, M.D., M.H.S., and Jasdeep Sahota, MBA, M.S.) discussed contributing factors leading to the spread of telemedicine. These factors include a greater demand for convenient health care, improved technology to facilitate virtual visits, and the need for a focus on care coordination in many emerging payment models.

Telemedicine may serve as a mechanism to help bridge the gap between patient demand and managing population health by providing improved access and convenient care. While many interesting use cases exist, there have been a number of concerns raised about telemedicine. These include reimbursement, identifying appropriate patients for telemedicine visits, the ease of use of the technology, maintaining continuity of care, and concerns about providing care for patients across state lines. If you are considering implementing telemedicine in your practice, a few key considerations and best practices shared during the webinar include the following:

  • Target your patient populations 
    Consider which patients in your practice may be candidates for use of the technology. Consider the clinical and demographic factors that may make video visits a practical solution.
  • Be sure to designate a virtual visit champion 
    Having a clinical and administrative champion is important in developing your practice’s strategy for telemedicine. Champions would strategize and monitor the processes both administratively and clinically to ensure the health care needs of participating patients and physicians are met.
  • Ensure a smooth virtual visit
    Consider what the process and responsible person will be to ensure that requisite logistics are set up and a test run is completed prior to the virtual visit. Make sure that the patient is able to use the technology and that all systems are working properly in advance.
  • Determine how virtual visits are incorporated into physician schedules
    Will virtual visits be scheduled during a virtual visit block or will they be handled at certain points during the day? Advance consideration in this area may help with enhanced efficiencies for both virtual and in-person encounters.

Although it might not be perfect for all patients, telemedicine could help boost patient satisfaction and allow patients to be seen sooner during some routine follow-up visits. Telemedicine may also help physicians connect to patients in new ways outside of traditional care settings.

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