When it comes to taking your practice online, your plan should be determined by the desired outcomes you wish to achieve.
The first and most important thing to do is ask yourself why you even want to engage with your clients online. Is it because you want to stay competitive in an evolving field? Or, perhaps you’d like to be able to stay home and look after young children while you maintain your career? Maybe you just want to give more flexible scheduling to clients who may not be able to see you in person. Whatever the reason, that is the starting place for determining how, when, where, and with whom you will leverage telehealth in your practice. Once you know your end-goal, you can set a timeline and benchmarks (E.G.: “I will use telemedicine with five clients by “XXX” date”).
Every state is different. Check with your licensing board to see if they have a set policy for telehealth. Some licensure boards require you to have a specific informed consent for telemedicine, take a distance counseling course, or may even require you to have your first visit with a client in person, although that is changing. Also, if you are paneled with payors, be sure to contact them ahead of time to inquire about the reimbursement policy. Be certain to ask if your state offers insurance parity for in-person and online care. You’ll want to find out how much you will be paid and under what circumstances ahead of time, but the only sure fire way to know is to just submit a claim.
Finding the right software can be challenging. You should understand what parts of your workflow you want telemedicine to solve for and if your needs could change over time. Require a signed BAA from your vendor, and a thorough demo of the software. Find out if the software is supported and if it is updated periodically. Ask if you will receive on-boarding support/training and always check their references. Remember, not all softwares are created equal!
Prepare For Success
Conduct multiple test calls before your first session to ensure good software performance and review best practices on how to conduct a safe/effective online session. Communicate with your clients on what they need to do before a session and what to expect. You should also have a safety plan in place for at-risk clients ahead of time and communicate that safety plan clearly to each client before you engage with them online.
Evaluate And Iterate
Ask yourself, is your strategy helping you achieve your desired outcome? Are you leveraging your telemedicine software in a way that maximizes your return? Track your ROI relative to expectations. You may decide to iterate on who and/or how you want to offer services. As with any other successful program, the key is to continuously improve on your strategy to strengthen your desired outcomes.
Abby Ghattas studied Business Administration and Economics at Maryville University. She has spent the majority of her professional career in healthcare administrative roles; bringing with her experience in behavioral health, long term care, acute care, and neurosurgery. She utilizes this perspective in the Success Department to better serve the healthcare professionals we partner with. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.