You will be with coreplus as our Telehealth capability is released to our broader community of customers. Keep an eye on our social media posts, our help centre and in product notifications for regular updates on additional Digital Health upgrades.
Given the situation we all find ourselves in, there’s been a lot of talk about Telehealth and how to implement it into your health practice. I thought I’d put some thoughts down that hopefully help you respond quickly to the lock downs currently happening whilst also having an eye on where this is going.
So, Telehealth right now can be implemented in one of several ways, i.e. fast & loose, you can get away with it and properly. I’ll break down both approaches technically below, but first I’ll cover off some things that will apply to either way you go.
General considerations on your clients side:
- They’re not that tech savvy and/ or don’t have the right equipment.
- They don’t have enough information on how healthcare online works for them and their therapy or treatment
- The internet connectivity kinda sucks
- No prior Telehealth experience
Therefore, the telehealth solution you implement should have the following characteristics:
- Works on web & mobile and does not require a lot of internet bandwidth to provide good quality video streaming and voice quality (This will bite you at the worst time if not done well consider back up plans when the primary telehealth service doesn’t work as expected)
- Requires minimal input from your client to attend an appointment e.g. a URL Link that opens up the (consult) waiting room
- Allows you to moderate when, where and to whom you provide telehealth services to e.g. you’re in control, it’s professional software, not social media software.
- Complies with Australian Data Privacy requirements and digital health standards (More on this soon)
- Ensures that any documents, white-boarding, recordings, chat conversations are saved into the clinical notes within the practice management software
- Ensures that the integration between the Telehealth system and your practice should be compliant with privacy, security and healthcare information sharing standards. Most may meet the first two, but not the last one. Also, ensure each of your practitioners and admins have their own user log in for quality control, privacy and audit purposes.
Other considerations on your practice side:
- Have a work space set up that addresses the following: Good lighting of the practitioner, simple or thought about background (e.g. branding or nothing too distracting or offensive to the client), quality camera (1080p is pretty common these days), and microphone that is clear and reliable…(think customer, what’s it like to be on the other side of this Telehealth consult and a good tip is making sure that you have your camera set up close to the top of your monitor so that it allows you to look at the person you’re video calling at close to eye level).
- Track and follow Telehealth research that supports effectiveness related to your area of practice e.g. mental health, physical therapy, etc…and keep a regular update (BLOG, Newsletters) or FAQ’s section to your website (PRO TIP: This will be great for your personal branding along with reassuring to your clients when you suggest this type of approach to their healthcare)
- Track and follow Telehealth regulations related to your area of healthcare and where required ensure your clinical compliance model meets the standard. NB: If you’re planning on providing services in other countries, you’ll need to take their local regulations into account.
- Do a risk analysis to assess the chances and potential size of any foreseeable clinical, practice management or technical problems with your service.
- Discuss with your business insurer whether you are covered with professional indemnity and consider having other types of insurance where applicable.
- Ensure your clinical systems, other software and even service providers e.g. Virtual Assistants/ Bookkeepers that you’re working with also meet Australian data privacy and security requirements. This is relevant to the country from where the payer resides. NB: If you’re only servicing Australians, then Australian health data management laws and regulations.
- Ensure that your client/ patient & practice management software is being used and is integrated with the telehealth software you’ve selected.
- If you haven’t already, implement a password management tool e.g. LastPass or Dashlane etc…that allows you to implement password policies i.e. how often passwords must be changed, how many characters minimum a password should have etc…
- Ensure that you have your set up/ systems in such a way that you can continue to deliver a health care service, just using online tools. e.g. I find that using two monitors allows me to have one monitor for the video/ online interaction with the other person, whilst having my information system open on the other monitor and be able to interact with it, take notes, update files etc…
- Have your clinical workflows integrated seamlessly i.e. referral processes for situations where you’re meeting a client that is not a good fit for your service and needs to be on referred. This could apply to internal referrals within your practice as well as across your referral networks.
- Ensure your team members can use and moderate online sessions with clients and have most of the skills to be able to cope with minor technical challenges/ glitches that might arise. Alternatively, have a support in place to do that on their behalf (remotely). (PRO-TIP: always best to pad telehealth appointments with a few minutes to set up and run through the tech checklist).
- Don’t forget your workflows and automation that wrap around the online consult/ therapy e.g. follow ups, claiming, task management, clinical notes etc…
- Don’t forget to market your telehealth service online, through landing pages, online bookings and during phone calls and newsletters along with clear guidance around your pricing and policies e.g. , insurance/ payers, pros/cons of telehealth, duration, expectations, fees as well as guidance on what they need to do when they attend a telehealth appointment e.g. their space, Tech check, getting into waiting room 5-10 minutes prior for set up.
- Ensure that your online bookings can offer your clients availability within their local time zone. This will keep everybody’s expectations aligned so that the client and the practitioner arrive at the appointment at the right time regardless as to which time zone they happen to be in when attending the session.
- Obtain the consent to participate in Telehealth services e.g. verbally or in writing.
Now, with that in mind, what software or systems do you use. In general, social and team communication tools are everywhere these days, video/ voice, instant messaging, screen sharing is baked into a lot of our personal and work tools. Keep this in mind when you’re feeling like implementing something ASAP.
Here’s a summary of quick, better and best approaches to implementing Telehealth capabilities.
Fast & Loose:
I would not advise doing this fast and loose, however I get things are different right now until we’re all past the COVID-19 response. So for what it’s worth.
Skype, Zoom (Free Version), Teams, Skype and any other video conference tools that are not designed for healthcare are pretty easy and cost effective to turn on.
You’ll have workflow challenges & high privacy breach risks with these, and should not send/ receive healthcare information/ documents via these services, just video/ voice calls. And as soon as your practice management software offers a proper Telehealth service/ integration then switch over.
NB: This help article if you would like to be using Zoom with coreplus
You can get away with it:
Software designed for telehealth in other jurisdictions e.g. US/ Canada, EU etc… NB: These will work if you service those jurisdictions, but in the long run, if you’re providing services to Australians, you need to comply with Australian laws, regulations for data and teleheatlh services.
Be mindful that any documentation/ healthcare information processing on these types of software use foreign standards such as HIPAA compliance and will not mean that they meet Australian health information exchange standards and will not integrate with HIPPA compliant systems in Australia generally, so it’s a bit of a marketing gotcha for Aussie providers.
Software designed for Australian Telehealth providers servicing Australians first and foremost. NB: They must be integrated well into the clinical information systems when it comes to transferring healthcare information and files into your clinical information system, as well as supporting best practices for telehealth, telemedicine and medtech integrations.
In short, coreplus addresses all the digital health requirements with it’s release of Telehealth. This means that you will be able to offer the right workflows to your practitioners, to your clients and be comfortable exchanging healthcare information and files meeting the Australian Data Privacy compliance requirements as well. Our Telehealth capability has been used for a number of years by large specialised telehealth providers and has been developed with evolving best practice approaches and requirements supporting telehealth competency.