The COVID-19 pandemic quickly accelerated the growth of telemedicine, making it easier for both physicians and patients to take advantage of its many benefits. Definitive Healthcare Analysts reported a 6,000% increase in telehealth claims between the summer of 2019 and the summer of 2020, with over 42% of Americans using telehealth during the pandemic. From its inception as far back as the 1960s, telemedicine has shown incredible potential. However, it took a while for the public to embrace it.
Even now that the pandemic has subsided to a certain extent and in-person clinical visits are allowed, it’s clear that telemedicine is here to stay. Now is an excellent time to introduce telemedicine into your practice if you haven't already.
1. Familiarize yourself with telemedicine laws in your state
If you plan on starting a telemedicine practice, your first step is to familiarize yourself with the laws governing telemedicine programs in your state. Note that these laws vary widely from one state to another. For instance, some states allow physicians to conduct virtual visits with patients at home, while others require patients to be in a medical facility.
It's also essential to understand the reimbursement policies for telemedicine services in your state. Currently, 28 states have parity laws which require reimbursement for remote video visits.
2. Decide how to utilize telemedicine in your practice
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing telemedicine in your practice. Take time to think about how to customize your approach based on the unique needs of your patients. For instance, you can dedicate certain times during the week for virtual visits and for conducting follow-up calls through video.
3. Involve your staff
The use of telemedicine can change several aspects of your routine. It's best to get your staff involved and seek their support to guarantee seamlessly introducing telemedicine into your practice. Consider building a team that will oversee the entire implementation, from the providers who will use the telemedicine programs to the staff who schedule the appointments. Research the abundance of technical resources available to find the right partners to work with.
4. Find the right technology partner
With the plethora of video communication platforms available out there, it's easy to think that you can pick one and set up your telemedicine practice right away. However, not all of these platforms are created equal. You should take time to find the right technology partner, one that's specifically able to address the many concerns that come with offering telemedicine.
If you're not sure how to choose among the number of telehealth vendors, look for a platform that:
• Complies with state medical board regulations and HIPAA rules
• Provides extensive tech support for both providers and patients
• Implements security features to safeguard users from cyberattacks
• Integrates with your electronic health records system
• Includes customization options to address your unique needs
• Works with your existing software and hardware
• Improves the overall efficiency of your practice
5. Prepare for telemedicine startup costs
Starting a telemedicine practice can be a little like starting a business. You need to think about startup costs and the return on investment. Many physicians assume that implementing telemedicine services requires substantial capital. However, you might be surprised that you can get started without shelling out a ton of money.
For the most part, telemedicine startup costs go to the telemedicine platform you choose to work with. You may also have to invest in hiring additional staff and buying equipment, such as computers, tablets, and headphones.
Based on various telemedicine platform pricing, you can typically expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $500 per month. You always have the option of using a free platform to familiarize yourself with the use of telemedicine, strategize how to integrate it into your practice, and figure out what features you need before investing in a paid option. However, the lack of features and generally lower quality of free services is definitely something to consider.
According to the Telehealth Implementation Playbook by the American Medical Association, you need to determine whether you're financially ready to embrace telehealth by understanding the cost of setting it up compared to how it can impact your patients, whether through reimbursements, better access to healthcare, and reduced no-show rates.
It's also worth noting that, when properly executed, telemedicine can reduce costs by improving patient experience, providing early diagnosis, and improving health outcomes. While you will have to spend money upfront, you can enjoy an excellent return on your investment while providing value to your patients and improving your practice’s overall efficiency.
6. Measure your success
Just like running any business, it's important to measure the success of your telemedicine services. Don't forget to check in with your goals and see whether you're inching closer toward them. There are many challenges to using telemedicine, and you may have to adjust your programs and goals along the way. Constant monitoring is vital to ensuring the success of your telemedicine program.
It's also a good idea to gather feedback not only from patients but your staff as well. This helps gauge any changes you may have to implement to ensure that you deliver the best virtual care for your patients.
If you're interested in testing the waters and starting a telemedicine practice with minimal hassle, our platform may be the perfect solution. Tripment is a healthcare marketplace that provides patients the ability to browse, schedule, and pay for medical consultations and procedures online.
Tripment also benefits providers by giving them a platform to connect with patients. With Tripment, you can list your fees for the procedures and consultations that you want to offer, manage your profile in real-time, and let the reach of Tripment do the heavy lifting for you.
Ready to get your telemedicine practice started? Learn more here and list your practice with Tripment today!