Solution Provider Says Integrating Telehealth into Existing EHR Solutions Encourages Clinician Adoption
The market is ripe for the rapid expansion of telehealth services as technological capabilities increase and user acceptance – particularly among digital natives like millennials – grows. According to experts, however, there is a key factor still standing in the way of widespread telehealth adoption: Clinicians accustomed to practicing medicine in a traditional face-to-face setting are finding it difficult to incorporate telehealth into their daily workflow.
According to Logicalis Healthcare Solutions, the healthcare-focused arm of Logicalis US, an international IT solutions and managed services provider (www.us.logicalis.com), as important as it is to ensure patients are comfortable using telehealth, it is equally important to ensure physicians and their staff see telehealth as part of their regular workflow. The best way to do that, Logicalis experts say, is to leverage the healthcare organization’s existing electronic health record (EHR) system, an application that is already a central part of clinicians’ everyday experience.
“The application environment for telehealth is really what will make or break telehealth adoption among clinicians,” says Ed Simcox, Healthcare Practice Leader, Logicalis Healthcare Solutions. “Organizations that are able to leverage the existing EHR, which is already vital to the physician’s experience during in-office visits, and augment that with well-integrated, third-party capabilities that enhance the telehealth visit will create an easy-to-use application environment that clinicians will embrace.”
Integrating Telehealth into Clinicians’ Daily Workflow
There are four important steps CIOs can take to ensure clinician buy-in of a new telehealth program. The key, according to Logicalis Healthcare Solutions experts, is to address these steps in the early stages of telehealth planning before any design or implementation takes place.
- Incorporate the Existing EHR: By relying on the existing EHR as the core application providing the portal for patient interaction as well as an integration point for scheduling, clinical notes documentation and the prescription of medications, solution providers can help create a virtual experience that not only emulates the physician’s in-office routine, but encourages clinicians to see telehealth as a primary way to practice medicine rather than an outlying service that happens to be offered but is not fully integrated into the practice.
- Tightly Integrate Third-Party Applications: Some aspects of the telehealth experience will naturally be tied to the EHR from the start – electronic appointment setting, for example, may be done from the EHR’s secure patient portal. Other aspects – such as a “virtual waiting room” – will need to be provided by an application outside of the EHR solution, yet must be seamlessly integrated into the EHR functionality to give physicians and their staff a streamlined user experience that feels as similar to an in-person visit as possible.
- Make Use of the Familiar: Each step in the telehealth process should follow the same pattern of patient interaction and employ the same terminology – waiting room, intake/evaluation, examination, checkout, prescription, documentation – that clinicians are already accustomed to in face-to-face patient encounters. Experts agree, the more “normal” the experience feels for both patient and staff alike, the more likely telehealth is to be embraced by all.
- Avoid Duplicated Work Efforts: To make the best use of telehealth and to encourage clinicians to make it a part of their daily workflow, it is also important to ensure that there is no duplication of data entry along the way. Everything in a well-oiled telehealth solution should be automated and streamlined. Consider the checkout process, for example. Since telehealth patients will schedule appointments online through a secure patient portal, they can also input their billing and payment information at the same time; this means there is no need for a manual check-out step at the end of the encounter. When the visit with the physician is over, the appointment simply ends saving both the patient and the facility additional time and resources as the visit comes to a close.
Want to Learn More?
- Logicalis Healthcare Solutions predicts America’s young will drive telehealth adoption; find out why here: http://ow.ly/m2wZ302rgp1.
- Telehealth is not all about technology; it’s critical to make sure the patient is satisfied with the experience.
- There are no shortcuts on the road to telehealth; read about the nine steps involved in a successful telehealth implementation, as well as the importance of implementing a medical-grade telehealth network, then download a Logicalis telehealth white paper, “How to Design and Implement a Successful Telehealth Program”: http://ow.ly/PBKj302rhaf.