Telehealth services are becoming increasingly popular among patients. Healthcare IT News reports that three-quarters of patients plan to use telehealth in 2022 and beyond. Its convenience and increased accessibility to care are some of the motivations behind telehealth’s favorability. Consequently, starting a telehealth practice is beneficial since you can rest assured that a market exists for it. Still, like establishing a business, there are certain tips to follow for success. Below are a few:
Familiarize yourself with state telehealth laws
The first step is to read your state’s telehealth practice laws. Although telehealth is legal across states, some have specific regulations. In North Carolina, telehealth practices must enroll in NC Medicaid before providing services. Another way to check for telehealth laws in your state is through the Health and Human Services telehealth website. It contains policies for telehealth providers, including how providers’ technology must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to ensure patient accessibility. Familiarizing yourself with these rules prevents legal complications when your practice is already operating.
Hire suitable medical professionals
Starting a practice means hiring fitting medical professionals. One thing to note—if you want to provide services to rural areas in NC—is the shortage of professionals. There are only 8 nurse practitioners (NPs) and 6.8 primary care physicians in Western North Carolina per 10,000 residents—lower than the state average. Fortunately, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and the NC Board of Nursing permit physicians and NPs from other states to practice in NC. This means you can hire from around the country. If you want your practice to focus on primary and urgent care for non-emergency conditions, physicians and remote nurse practitioners working in Washington are a great option as they specialize in this area. Treatment areas include behavioral health, sexual health, and care targeting a range of common chronic conditions. Hiring from other states lets you acquire suitable professionals to provide quality care for future patients.
Choose accessible telehealth delivery modes
Internet and digital device usage have risen dramatically over the decades, paving the way for telehealth’s creation. Unfortunately, equal access to stable internet and tech devices is still an issue. Only three in ten American rural residents report having a digital device—like a laptop or smartphone—to access the internet. Additionally, 24% reveal that high-speed internet is inaccessible in their community. Because the point of telehealth is to make healthcare accessible, you must consider these statistics when starting your practice. Address this by providing several methods of telehealth delivery aside from video-calling, such as messaging and audio-calling. These don’t require high-speed internet, making them more accessible for patients with low broadband speeds.
Invest in the right software
Now that you’ve determined the services and delivery modes you’ll offer, look for suitable telehealth software. High-quality telehealth software is easily navigable for patients and professionals, has an organized appointment management system, and is HIPAA-compliant to secure patient data. Other qualities are a remote patient monitoring system, e-prescription support, and a seamless payment gateway. Also, consider the software’s capability to support additional features you want, such as messaging and audio-calling as a delivery method. Research software options before committing, so you can guarantee it suits your needs.
Prepare your staff
Before launching your telehealth practice, you and your staff must be knowledgeable about conducting telehealth appointments as it differs from in-person arrangements. You must observe basic telehealth etiquette, like dressing decently, attending appointments punctually, and maintaining eye contact through the webcam. These exude professionalism and increase patients’ trust and comfort with providers. You must also train other employees involved in your practice—like customer service representatives. Our post ‘Massively Improve Customer Service with VoIP’ notes that Voice over Internet Protocol can send customer texts for better service. It’s something to consider to make your practice more successful.
Telehealth makes healthcare more accessible and convenient. Use our tips to establish your telehealth practice today!