3 telemedicine mistakes to avoid when starting out

Jun 30, 2015 / Telemedicine implementation /

 

Although it's been around for over 20 years, the field of telemedicine is starting to see enormous growth. This is a result of both increased health care demands brought on by President Barack Obama's health care law enacted in 2010, as well as the continued development of communication technology.

For practices that have yet to adopt telemedicine as part of their offerings, the time has never been better. But making the move to telemedicine requires thought and cooperation if you want to reap the maximum benefits for your practice and your patients. Here are a few pitfalls you'll want to keep in mind when planning your new telemedicine strategy.

1. Stepping outside your scope

The recent growth of the telemedicine field means that there are more options available now than ever in terms of equipment and services. It's true that effective use of telemedicine services can let your clinicians reach more patients and, as such, increase your client base, but that doesn't mean that you should overshoot when selecting your options.

Growth potential may inspire you to purchase more equipment than you currently need, with the thought that you can simply grow into it as your practice develops. However, this is a mistake - especially for telemedicine newcomers. The equipment you purchase is only beneficial if you have the technological capabilities, personnel and training to make the best use of it.

The best way to approach telemedicine as a newcomer is to purchase equipment according to your current needs and capabilities. This way, you can minimize your initial investment while simultaneously giving your practitioners the opportunity to adapt to the new technology. If you choose a provider that offers modular equipment and technology, it will be easy to add more equipment to your telemedicine program as it grows and you expand your service offering.

Your telemedicine strategy should enable you to offer the same high-quality service in-person or remotely.Your telemedicine strategy should enable you to offer the same high-quality service in-person or remotely.

2. Segregating telemedicine offerings from in-person ones

It may be tempting, especially during the early period when you and your staff are adapting to telemedicine, to keep that facet of your practice separate from the day-to-day interactions everyone is used to carrying out. However, it's important that you fight that urge and integrate your telemedicine solutions into your standard practice procedures as early as you're able.

One of the primary benefits of telemedicine is the ability it grants physicians and nurses to offer the same quality care they give to inpatient clients to those in areas farther away from their practice. Rather than a new set of skills entirely, telemedicine is instead simply a vessel for your providers to expand their practice and efficiency. If your organization separates telemedicine from the day-to-day practice of your clinicians, you jeopardize that benefit. It's important that all practitioners are fluent in telemedicine operations, not just a select few. This ensures that any clinician can seamlessly perform procedures such as remote diagnosis if needed and allows the flexibility of telemedicine to shine through.

"You should have a clear idea of what your goals are."

3. Not having a plan

Telemedicine is a tool. Just like any other implement, it requires knowledge and understanding to work as intended. This means that when you're considering your telemedicine strategy, you should have a clear idea of what your goals are and how telemedicine services can help you achieve them.

When purchasing telemedicine equipment, shop for your needs. If your goal is to increase the effective practice area of your physicians in an effort to fight a creeping medical desert, that will benefit most from a specific suite of tools and services. This may differ from those needed if your focus were on enhancing a specialized service offering.

It's understandable that you may feel overwhelmed when you first start considering your options. Fortunately, experts in the field of telemedicine can be a tremendous resource in terms of helping you plan and implement the strategy that will benefit your clinic and its patients the most.

For more information and for help designing your own telemedicine program, visit www.amdtelemedicine.com.

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