Telehealth delivers a win-win when the physician is onboard Print E-mail
Written by Accountable Care Options   
Thursday, 17 May 2018 08:23

The biggest challenge when implementing a telehealth program isn’t patient compliance, it’s participation by the primary care physician. Doctors’ daily schedules are so filled with  patient office visits that unless they set aside time for appointments with patients who have telehealth equipment in their homes, they don’t experience the full benefits that remote health care can provide.

Some physicians are doing a phenomenal job using telehealth to supplant office visits and monitor their patients. We call them our pioneers, and they speak to other doctors about utilizing telehealth, its advantages, and how to integrate it into the workflow. For example, a pioneer might have one day of the week where the office closes at noon. The physician allocates part or all of that afternoon for telehealth assessments.

Physicians quickly learn to give themselves a bit more flexibility because these appointments can take from 15 minutes to an hour. The appointment length depends on the questions they ask and the patient’s circumstances: Was the individual just discharged? Is he or she a surgical patient with multiple chronic conditions? In those instances, a physician should allow more time.

Second, training is essential. Doctors should dedicate time to becoming more familiar with the equipment. It's not difficult to use, but as with all technology, the more one uses it, the more efficient one becomes. We encourage physicians to schedule sessions with us to set up the equipment the way they like it and to learn the best practices for conducting an interview.

Once they embrace the technology, they enjoy having live information, because even when a patient routinely comes into the office, he or she will not have vital sign and glucose readings for every day at home.

Using telehealth data, a doctor can see that a patient has had high blood pressure over the last three days or that today’s reading may be the first sign of a problem. With daily monitoring, the physician can ask more intricate questions and thus get to know the patient much better versus seeing the individual once a month in the office.

Doctors who actively use telehealth say the service benefits the patients, too, because they have the flexibility in their schedules and no longer need a medical assistant to take their blood pressure, pulse and other vitals. This is a win-win situation, because the patient gains independence and the primary care physician realizes better use of time and receives better information on the patient.

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