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Considering implementing virtual care at your organization? With its numerous proven benefits for both patients and practices, you may be wondering if it really is possible to have long-term success with these programs. While some providers may have previously hesitated at the idea of adopting it, the pandemic led to its widespread adoption. This occurred despite challenges that formerly prevented implementation such as regulatory and legal issues, security and privacy, and logistical challenges. This response not only signaled these barriers could be overcome but why it’s easier to succeed with virtual care than you may have initially thought.
How do you know if your virtual care program is successful? Establishing what success may look like for your healthcare organization can vary because it can depend on the overall objective your program is trying to address. Examples of objectives can include expanding access to care for rural communities, reducing the negative impact of chronic disease or tackling a shortage of providers with experienced care teams.
Based on your objective, you may find it helpful to identify a few goals and metrics that are most important to your organization. A few examples of goals can include improved health outcomes, patient engagement, and satisfaction as well as reduced emergency room visits and cancellations.
If you notice that some goals such as improving health outcomes could take longer to achieve, try to focus more on measuring success with other metrics that can be more immediate. This can include the number of visits completed, patient satisfaction, and visit time, according to iDigital Health. Tracking these statistics can indicate success while you wait for clinical outcomes. They can also help in “maintaining a consistent reporting process to measure the success of the program on a regular basis.”
Once you establish your objective, tangible goals, and the metrics you will track to reach them, you will notice the program could meet your organization’s definition of success. Consequently, this success could positively impact patients, care teams, and the healthcare industry while also contributing to your organization’s larger goals.
Virtual care solutions like Care Management and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) offer the opportunity for your practice and care team to effectively engage with your patients through consistent outreach. Since they take a patient-centered approach to engagement and education, patients are more likely to feel empowered in their health decisions.
This is because as they become more aware of their health decisions and how they affect their health, they are more likely to adhere to their personalized care plans and reach their health goals. With each visit, the care team can gain greater insight to share with your practice because these interactions are personalized to the patients’ specific needs. While on these calls, care teams can answer their questions, encourage them in their health journey, and offer accountability about their health goals when needed.
These touchpoints create positive care experiences, which leads to greater satisfaction rates. It can also lead to better health outcomes because these patients are becoming more engaged in their long-term health.
Virtual care helped providers tackle challenges the pandemic presented and impacted the growth of telehealth. Discover how it can be leveraged to deliver quality care in our eBook.
Adopting virtual care solutions most likely will involve adjusting workflows to ensure both patients and the care team have a positive experience. Establishing a clear workflow can also help maximize the value of a virtual care program. This is because they can include setting up clear patient and provider expectations, streamlining the patient experience and preserving the patient-provider relationship, according to the American Medical Association.
Additionally, the ability to integrate both your virtual care solutions and your workflows seamlessly could prove to maximize efficiency while producing positive clinical and financial outcomes.
For example, integrating your electronic health records (EHR) with RPM could be useful in that it transfers health data straight to the patient’s record, so it is available whenever the patient comes in for an office visit. This offers convenience to both you and your staff because you do not have to perform manual data entry, which could lead to the risk of errors.
Integration with this solution could also be helpful in that if you work with an experienced partner, the care team can document notes directly within your EHR and set up notifications that alert you to changes in patient health that could indicate a problem. They can also make and schedule preventive appointments or early interventions.
In addition to RPM, the workflows for other virtual care solutions among your staff or strategic partner can include identifying eligible patients, offering patient education, communicating with patients, and knowing and integrating CPT codes and appropriate modifiers into the EHR.
These collaborative efforts among patients, the care team, and your practice can help the program achieve its goals.
Virtual care solutions that emphasize improving clinical outcomes ultimately lead to successful programs. In fact, when they are designed to deliver quality care efficiently, it ensures “patients receive compassionate care that addresses their unique concerns and gives health plans confidence that their members are receiving care that is equal or better than in-person care, regardless of race, gender, income and education level,” according to Teladoc Health.
These visits can often lead to detecting health concerns and trends earlier so they can alert the patient’s healthcare provider to intervene sooner on their behalf. Consequently, this can lead to improved clinical outcomes and lower healthcare costs.
Some clinical outcomes for patients participating in virtual care programs include:
As you begin to plan to implement your virtual care program, it’s important to consider how you hope to scale it in the future. What other populations, conditions, and specialties could benefit from enrolling in one of your virtual care programs? Which solutions would you like to offer? For example, would you be able to offer greater access to care and help even more patients if you offered both Remote Patient Monitoring and Care Management at your practice?
The possibility of scaling your program can depend on several factors including the metrics and goals your organization established. As you track the metrics, you can continuously improve the program to ensure continuity of care and improve performances against quality metrics. Then, based on what is achieved, expanding the program may be possible, especially when discussing it with key stakeholders who may be hesitant.
A few more important elements to scaling your program include identifying enthusiastic providers, ensuring your team is ready for the transition, and having leadership that supports the program. Without advocates who are passionate and excited to follow through on adopting the program and assisting in its success, scaling is less likely.
When deciding on whether to implement a virtual care program, it may be helpful to consider collaborating with an experienced and trusted partner. This connects you to a team that can seamlessly act as an extension of your practice while avoiding disruption to your workflows and maximizing results.
A strategic partner should also be “just as motivated as you to achieve positive outcomes, support you throughout the implementation process, and be an expert resource in challenging situations,” according to the Telehealth Implementation Playbook.
Without proper guidelines and implementation, introducing new virtual care programs can be a challenge. Discuss your expectations of the program and the barriers you feel you may face if you were to adopt it on your own with your potential partner. An experienced partner should know how to navigate these challenges and make launching these solutions easier for you. This way, you can focus on your patients’ care.
Finally, when evaluating partnerships that could be the right fit for your practice, it’s important to consider the following elements from the American Medical Association:
If leveraging turnkey virtual care solutions sounds like something that could work well for your practice and patients, our team can help. Contact us today to get started.