One of the pandemic’s silver linings is that healthcare providers are increasingly adopting telehealth to ensure fast and efficient care delivery. The Telehealth Impact Study prepared by the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition indicates that over 75% of clinicians stated that telehealth helped them provide care across a range of applications — from COVID-19 related care and acute care to chronic disease management and preventative care. Furthermore, 68% of respondents are highly motivated to increase the use of telehealth in their practices.
The American Medical Association (AMA) leverages this survey as evidence to further promote the adoption of telehealth beyond the pandemic. For that purpose, AMA adopted a new telehealth policy that aims at pressuring federal and state agencies to use accessible devices and technologies, ensure equitable access to telehealth services, and reduce health disparities.
With strong support from healthcare professionals and regulatory authorities, telemedicine is definitely here to stay. And health IT providers took notice — today, there is no shortage of telehealth video conferencing software options on the market.
But not all telehealth solutions are created equal. If you want to achieve success with your telehealth initiative, here are 5 things you need to consider.
Low latency video conferencing
Video-based communication is the core element of any telehealth solution as it allows clinicians to reach patients with although virtual but highly efficient consultations. This places utmost importance on ensuring HD video conferencing with zero lag both on practice’s patient portal and user’s mobile devices.
One such technology that can address these challenges is web real-time communication (WebRTC). WebRTC allows users to stream real-time video right from the browser, no plugins required. In addition to live peer-to-peer video and audio calls, WebRTC-based telehealth solutions support multi-party video conferencing for multi-specialists consults or board meetings.
Integration with medical software
From medical imaging software to patient monitoring devices to hospital systems, modern healthcare is increasingly becoming a complex ecosystem of technologies and solutions. For example, the adoption of EHR systems is at all-time high, with 4 out of 5 hospitals having a basic HHS-certified EHR system.
To streamline clinical workflows, your telehealth solution needs to play nicely with patient portals, practice management software, as well as EHR, EMR, and PHM solutions. When these platforms are intertwined, healthcare professionals can easily access all relevant information and deliver care in a simplified workflow.
Medical billing management
Even before the pandemic, medical billing has been a complicated process. Now that healthcare services are delivered online, reimbursement policies are changing to adapt to the new reality. In addition to these constant changes, public and private payers have different reimbursement rules and procedures in place.
To stay on top of this complexity, your telehealth solution needs to support billing and revenue cycle management functionality. The billing module will allow you to automate eligibility checks, medical coding, claim scrubbing, and other workflows — all while enabling patients to keep track of payments.
Electronic prescribing, or ePrescribing, is a modern alternative to old-fashioned paper prescriptions. The technological solution allows medical practitioners to write and securely transmit prescriptions to pharmacies directly from the point-of-care.
The pandemic has definitely fast-tracked the adoption of ePrescribing but given their benefits, these solutions are becoming an indispensable part of telemedicine. By integrating ePrescribing capabilities into your telehealth solution, you can significantly improve prescribing accuracy, eliminate human error, and get medication to patients faster.
Security and compliance
The list of key telehealth components would not be complete without rock-solid security and privacy. Patients trust telehealth providers to protect their sensitive personal information, and data security breaches will not only affect users’ loyalty but also result in hefty fines.
To keep electronic protected health information (ePHI) safe, a range of technical safeguards must be in place — end-to-end data encryption, multi-factor authentication, role-based access control, to name a few. Patient data privacy is ensured through compliance with the relevant standards like HIPAA and HITRUST CFS certification.
The bottom line
Telehealth’s future looks more than bright. By 2025, the global telemedicine market is expected to amass USD 191.7 bln, growing at a CAGR of 37.7%.
To take a piece of that pie, healthcare providers need to start building their telemedicine capabilities now. Whether they decide to buy or build a custom telehealth solution, there are 5 key components it needs to include — high-quality video conferencing, EHR integration, medical billing, ePrescribing support, as well as safety and HIPAA compliance.
About the author
Olga Ezzheva is a technical writer at Oxagile, a leading software development company. A tech enthusiast, Olga covers a host of topics – from Big Data to Machine Learning to Computer Vision – while focusing on innovative ways to leverage technology for business growth.