The new novel coronavirus has only been with us for a handful of months thus far. Yet already, COVID-19 has left no aspect of modern life untouched.
How we work, shop for our groceries, spend our free time, keep connected with friends and family and stay fit and healthy – all of our normal routines have been upended literally overnight.
As a healthcare provider, this also means you are now on the front lines of a global battle no one yet fully understands.
You are challenged to make the biggest pivot a business can make, and to make it in real time. Everything about your previous business model must change, from how you see and interact with patients to how you oversee and train staff to how you code and bill for your services.
In this article we share our top tips and tools to make transitioning to a tele-health business model simpler, quicker, more effective and more profitable starting right now.
1. Set a clear, fresh, actionable team vision for doing business.
No one – and we mean NO ONE – in the healthcare field right now has this new era of tele-health practice figured out.
Newbies to the field and renowned, seasoned professionals alike are having to scrap their entire healthcare playbook and start again from scratch.
Yet in the chaos exists excitement and opportunity.
The playing field has just been leveled and everyone is in “healthcare triage mode,” revamping how things get done in real time. Who knows where the next game-changing idea may come from!
So gather your team and hit the ground running by setting a fresh intention.
There has never been a better moment in modern healthcare history to create a true team spirit, with engaged, excited staff who bring their A-game each and every day. Aim to simplify, streamline, adapt and evolve as a team, making each patient priority number one.
Here, consider these questions:
– What can your team do to make receiving care as simple and stress-free as possible for every patient?
– How do you want each patient to feel before, during and after their virtual visit?
– What information (technology, insurance, billing and coding, etc) does your team need to gather in order to bring your intention to life?
Then craft a one to two sentence intention – this is your healthcare triage mission and vision. Make sure everyone gets credit for their contributions and every staff member has a copy in a visible place.
As a business owner, you may also want to create a big picture intention for how you plan to care for your staff as they adjust and adapt to keep patient care a priority.
This may include praise and recognition, surprise financial bonuses or gift cards to purchase necessities and most of all sensitivity to how their personal situations may have changed as well.
Consider how you can best support each team member to manage stress, provide feedback and training as needed and perhaps offer other types of help where needed.
2. Keep the patient-side technology simple and accessible.
Triage means “assigning degrees of urgency.” It loosely translates to mean “use the best of what you’ve got.”
Determining the best of what you’ve got in these times must include not just what you, the provider and the practice, may have ready access to, but also what your patients have access to and their comfort level with using it.
In other words, it doesn’t matter if you have broadband WiFi with a multi-media interactive video platform if you are talking with a senior patient who is still using an old school flip phone.
By adopting a “no patient left behind” approach, you can build a suite of tools that ensures every single patient has access to the tele-medicine services your practice can provide.
To accomplish this mission, your front desk scheduling staff will need to be diligent when setting telehealth appointments to identify the best way to contact each patient.
And for patients who have access to the right technology, feature-rich telehealth tools like the Remote Screen app (available for iOS and Android) can handily simplify the formerly complex process of conducting virtual patient assessments.
Thanks to the incredibly rapid advances in modern technology, these types of tools can actually help you help your patients in practical, real world ways. Here are just a few examples:
– In a virtual medicine setting, loved ones can use these tools to screen and assess family members.
– Team members working remotely can sync across devices to be sure everyone is “on the same page” – literally.
– HIPAA compliance, cloud and database backup and data security is built in to the sync screen system.
– The tools are completely free for your patients to access and use.
3. Learn how to code and bill for telemedicine….ASAP.
When you are in healthcare triage mode, it can feel tempting to forget about things like coding, billing, accounts receivable and staying in the black. It’s not like you don’t already have your hands full with urgent patient care needs!
Yet you absolutely need to stay right side up financially to keep the lights on, pay yourself and your team, serve your patients, feed your family, change the face of medicine forever….
There are no reasons here that don’t lead back to putting the mask on your own face first before assisting your seat neighbor.
This means learning how to code, bill and document for telemedicine cannot wait. This is a critical mass part of easing stress for your team, your patients and you!
If you are struggling to find the time and focus, consider scheduling a virtual “lunch and learn” with your medical coding and billing support staff.
Schedule a set time and date to meet online together for 60 minutes to learn to code, bill and document for telehealth services.
4. Learn what insurers will cover and educate your patients.
Until the new novel coronavirus burst upon the scene, insurance coverage for telehealth tools had remained spotty.
In the wake of this global healthcare crisis, insurance providers are evolving in record time to cover and reimburse for telemedicine services.
Each of these organizations provides free, high quality resources to support you in your transition to providing telehealth services.
American Hospital Association.
For example, the AHA has compiled a free resource that outlines how insurance providers are changing coverage levels to provide patients with emergency care in the safest possible way.
Depending on your patient demographic and area of medicine, your patients may not know that they are receiving these new benefits. This can mean your patients delay seeking care or simply don’t seek care because they assume it won’t be covered.
Consider providing resources like the AHA document and other relevant information to help your patients understand how their coverage may be changing and how to access the care they need with you via telemedicine instead.
American Telemedicine Association.
The American Telemedicine Association has also launched a comprehensive online tool to provide health providers with breaking news on policy updates.
The ATA also offers a wealth of free tools and resources and a useful free “quick start” guide to telehealth during a crisis.
5. Help patients stay fit and pain-free virtually.
Yet another vital need many patients and caregivers have is support to maintain health and fitness.
In the wake of the new novel coronavirus, many patients have been left without access to the type of customized in-person physical therapy and fitness options they formerly relied upon.
With WebExercises, you can provide each one of your patients with a customized, personalized exercise and fitness plan. WebExercises is fully evidence-based and all exercises can be tailored to meet each of the following patient needs and more:
– Advanced exercise protocols for patients recovering from surgery or injury.
– Exercise as part of a weight loss or weight management plan.
– Fitness options to meet patient preferences with 3,500+ customized exercises.
– Increased patient engagement and compliance with visual teaching tools.
– Tracking and record-keeping tools to make your patient appointments more productive.
– Patient education about health conditions, including management and prevention.
– Easy online tracking to help you track each patient’s progress day by day.
– Option for real-time patient interaction via the portal.
– Customized portal branding to support your practice.
– Integration with other virtual tools like posture screening.
Regardless of your area of practice, WebExercises can support you to support your patients by providing value-added virtual and telehealth services at no extra charge to them. You will also get discounts on selected WebExercises Academy courses.