As the healthcare landscape continues to change, group medical practices are increasingly looking for ways to stay competitive. One way to do this is to start a telemedicine practice. Here are ten steps to follow if you're considering launching a telemedicine practice:
Step 1: The Advantages.
Understand the advantages of starting a telemedicine practice (and whether it's right for you).
Before you start a telemedicine practice, consider the advantages and how they apply to your practice. Some of these benefits include:
Greater flexibility and convenience for patients
Telemedicine is a rapidly growing field that offers greater flexibility and convenience to patients. With telehealth, appointments can be made online, and patients can consult with their physicians from the comfort of their homes, using their smartphones or other personal devices. As patients can access telemedicine services from anywhere in the world, they are even more convenient for patients traveling or living in remote areas.
For those who have difficulty getting to a doctor's office due to work or family commitments, online booking tools coupled with video consultations make it easier to schedule and attend appointments around their availability.
In fact, data suggests that virtual appointments can save patients, on average, 101 minutes per consultation, since patients do not need to commute or wait for their appointment in person.
Increased practice revenue
In today's competitive healthcare market, telemedicine can be a valuable tool for health and wellness businesses looking to increase revenue. By definition, telemedicine is the practice of medicine using telecommunications technology to allow real-time communication between doctors and patients. It expands the scope of services that group medical practices can provide and therefore increases the range of revenue-generating activities.
Due to the increased flexibility and convenience of virtual healthcare, more and more patients actively seek this type of care. As a result, medical practices offering telemedicine services can expect increased patient volume and — consequently — revenue.
Fewer missed appointments and patient retention.
No-shows are a significant problem for medical practices, with each physician losing an average of $200 per missed appointment.
Modern technology tools, like online scheduling software and video calls, can help to reduce no-shows by making it easier for patients to see their doctor. Because these patients don't have to take time off work or arrange for child care, they're more likely to attend their appointment. Additionally, telemedicine can help to improve patient satisfaction by providing greater convenience and flexibility. Satisfied patients are more likely to stay with a practice and less likely to switch providers.
As business costs continue to rise, practice teams are looking for ways to reduce overhead expenses. One way to do this is to implement telemedicine services.
The remote nature of telehealth can save the practice money on office space and staff, as staff can conduct consultations from their home office. It also provides the opportunity for health and wellness businesses to reduce their physical footprint, utilizing co-working spaces and flexible, hybrid working arrangements for staff.
This way of working also reduces the need for travel and lodging expenses for practice staff. As telemedicine services become more common, healthcare providers can save money on overhead costs while still providing quality patient care.
Since the pandemic, telemedicine has become increasingly popular with patients seeking care tailored to their busy lifestyles. As a result, starting a telemedicine practice can be a great way for group medical practices to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in the ever-changing healthcare landscape.
Additionally, digital healthcare allows businesses to recruit the best medical talent, regardless of geographical restrictions. Flexible working arrangements, facilitated by new technologies, are a key differentiator for employers in this sector.
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Step 2: Legal Research.
Research your state's telemedicine laws and regulations.
Before you can offer telemedicine services, you need to ensure you comply with your country and state's laws and regulations. You will need to obtain a license to practice telemedicine in your state, and you will also need to meet any other requirements that may be in place. Each state has its own set of rules governing the practice of telemedicine, so it is essential to do your research before getting started. Once you clearly understand the laws and regulations governing telemedicine in your state, you can determine the precise compliance actions you need to take before you get started.
The rise of virtual healthcare also makes it possible for you to provide services across state boundaries through the use of compact medical licenses. Consequently, consider where you would like to provide services and ensure you have the relevant licenses in place for your physicians and other healthcare professionals.
Step 3: Research Telemedicine Types.
Learn about the different types of telemedicine.
There are several different types of telemedicine, each with advantages and disadvantages. For example, synchronous telemedicine involves real-time interactions between providers and patients. This type of telemedicine is often used for consultations or second opinions. Asynchronous telemedicine, on the other hand, does not require real-time interaction. This type of virtual healthcare service is often used for store-and-forward applications, such as sending X-rays or other diagnostic images. There are also hybrid forms of telemedicine that combine synchronous and asynchronous interactions. It is important to learn more about these types of telemedicine before developing a strategy for your health, medical or wellness business.
Step 4: Set Goals
Decide how you'd like to use telemedicine in your practice.
There is no one-size-fits-all telemedicine solution for every medical practice. Each group must decide how they would like to use telemedicine in their practice and their specific goals for implementing telemedicine. For example, goals may include:
> Reducing missed appointments
> Improving patient satisfaction
> Increasing capacity
> Broaden revenue streams
> Providing services in new geographical areas
It is vital to be clear and specific about your goals. Think about what you are hoping to achieve by implementing virtual healthcare services. Once you have established your goals, you can look at different telemedicine solutions and see which one will best help you realize those goals.
Step 5: Involve your staff.
Your staff will play a vital role in the success of your telemedicine launch. As such, it is crucial to involve employees in decision-making from the outset. This step will help keep everyone on the same page and get buy-in from all team members. Furthermore, involving your staff in the decision-making process will allow you to get their input on how best to implement telemedicine in your practice since your staff are experts in day-to-day operations.
Remember: your staff will be the ones using the telemedicine tools daily. By involving them in the planning process, you can better understand their preferences and needs. This knowledge will help you create a telehealth practice better tailored to their needs and, consequently, improve the quality of the services.
Step 6: Find the right technology partner.
When it comes to telemedicine, technology is critical. Without the right technology in place, your telemedicine practice will not be able to function. Look for a technology partner you can trust and that has experience in the virtual healthcare space. They must be familiar with the challenges and opportunities of implementing telemedicine in practice.
Most health and wellness businesses start out by digitizing the online bookings experience and introducing reliable and secure video consultation capabilities. Since these are functions that will be utilized daily, you should ensure the platform is easy for your employees to use and understand.
When searching for a technology partner, ensuring your provider complies with state and federal laws and regulations is crucial. This includes HIPAA compliance to ensure your patients' data is kept securely and privacy is maintained.
Failure to do so can result in severe consequences, including loss of licensure, civil penalties, and even criminal charges. That's why partnering with a telemedicine technology provider that takes compliance seriously and is up-to-date on all the latest rules and regulations is vital. By working with a partner committed to compliance, you can help ensure that your telemedicine practice remains within the bounds of the law.
Pro Tip: Upgrade your operations with Upvio, it's fully compliant with HIPAA regulations.With versatile features and a streamlined design, Upvio is perfect for appointment scheduling, telehealth consultations, and custom form building. Your patients will enjoy the convenience of a virtual waiting room, real-time notifications, an integrated messaging system, and easy file sharing.
Step 7: Marketing Strategy.
Develop your website and online presence.
Your website is often the first contact between you and your patients, so ensure it is up to par. When developing your website, there are a few things to remember:
Your website must be easy to navigate. Patients should be able to find the information they are looking for easily.
Your website must be mobile-friendly. More and more patients are using their smartphones and tablets to access medical information. So they should be able to easily access your website on these devices.
Your website must contain accurate and up-to-date information. Nothing is more frustrating for a patient than trying to schedule an appointment only to find out that the information on your website is outdated.
Your booking page must be embedded into your website. Make it easy for your patients to schedule appointments by allowing them to book directly from your website.
It's also imperative to remember that your online presence doesn't stop at your website. In today's digital world, patients also use social media to find and connect with healthcare providers. So make sure that you have a solid social media presence.
Your group can accomplish this by creating profiles on popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Additionally, it would help if you considered creating blog posts and videos that provide valuable information about telemedicine and how it can benefit patients. By establishing a robust online presence, patients are more likely to find and connect with your telemedicine practice easily.
Step 8: Software Implementation.
Implement your telemedicine tools and software.
Once you have chosen your technology partner and developed your website, it's time to implement your telemedicine tools and software.
During this technical stage, there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. You must ensure that your employees receive full telemedicine platform training.
2. Make sure that your patients are aware of the different ways they can connect with you virtually. For example, you may wish to send them an email or text message with instructions on how to log into the telemedicine platform.
3. Put a plan in place for when things go wrong. Despite your best efforts, there will be times when the technology doesn't work as planned. Having a plan for handling these situations will help minimize the disruption to your patients when it does occur.
Step 9: Prepare for the startup costs.
Preparing for the startup costs throughout the planning and development phase is essential. Startup costs to incorporate into your budget include:
• Hardware and software costs
• Compliance (e.g., legal fees)
• Staff training
It would help if you also considered the ongoing costs associated with telemedicine. These might include the costs of maintaining your website and social media presence, as well as the costs of providing support to patients. The technology products and services offered today are increasingly affordable. By adequately budgeting for these costs, you can help ensure that your telemedicine practice will be successful in the long run.
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Step 10: Market your new capabilities.
Now that you have everything in place to launch your telemedicine practice, there's nothing left to do but market your new capabilities.
If you have followed the steps outlined in this checklist, you'll already have a website and social media profiles for your practice. You can now shift your focus to promoting your services to your existing patients and new audiences.
Email marketing will become a vital tool for you to reach your existing customer base. Prepare visually appealing and informative emails to introduce your new services.
Paid marketing across search engines, social media sites and online directories should be considered as well.
For any marketing activities, you should prioritize the communication of benefits over features. Most patients don't care what your telemedicine software can do or its fancy functions. They care about the difference that telemedicine can make in their lives. Therefore, you should take the time to understand the biggest challenges your patients face when accessing healthcare, and focus your marketing on the key messages that demonstrate how telemedicine can solve these problems.
This approach to marketing may mean that different messages are appropriate for different patient groups. For example, the problems experienced by people in remote communities may be different from the problems faced by busy mothers living in an inner-city community.
Using various marketing strategies, you can help ensure that patients can find and connect with your telehealth practice.
Telemedicine is a growing field, and there is a lot of potential for new practices to succeed. However, it is essential to ensure that you are prepared before launching your telemedicine practice. By following the 10 steps outlined in this checklist, you'll be sure to get your telemedicine practice off to a flying start.
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