Telehealth platforms are gaining popularity. The major contributor to this breakthrough change is the pandemic that led people to opt for virtual care solutions rather than physical consultations. In the first quarter of 2020, telehealth consultations were increased by 50%.
Healthcare businesses are moving towards digital integrations to provide better service to home-bound patients.
To achieve enhanced care, a telehealth platform blends technologies such as mHealth (mobile health), video and audio software solutions, digital photography, remote patient monitoring (RPM), asynchronous telehealth, or e-consults.
How to Pick a Telehealth Platform
Keep in mind that not all virtual care platforms have all the integrations mentioned above.
However, for a healthcare business that wants to adopt a telehealth platform, there are five basic factors to seek in a virtual care platform:
- It should not breach the privacy and security boundaries of either the healthcare professionals or the patients.
- Integrates the most updated modalities to ensure quality care to the patients.
- User-friendly interfaces for both the healthcare provider and the patients.
- It must have the scope of scalability with the technological advancements and room for integration for newer software solutions such as EHR.
- Data analytics to establish the supply and demand metrics of a healthcare business.
- Handling of telehealth medical billing.
- Real-time support after a visit.
Let’s have an in-depth look at what these factors mean:
1. Privacy and Security
Patient data is sensitive information. Anyone related to the healthcare business must know the importance of data encryption. A patient and a healthcare provider should be well-adapted and informed about the security of their data.
In the past, the security of healthcare data was not a significant concern because everything was hand-written and manually sorted in files that were kept intact in a healthcare facility.
With virtual healthcare platforms gaining popularity, there are standards such as HIPAA to secure patient data at every end of the clinical cycle. For this, when a patient selects a digital healthcare platform, he must know that the platform is updated for current reforms.
If the platform doesn’t work on the current protocols, there’s a high chance of hackers getting access which is a considerable concern.
There are three basic telehealth integrations that make a virtual healthcare platform a desired one. Not all the three are present in all these platforms, but a patient must make a decision by picking up at least one type of integration in the telehealth platform:
Synchronous modality gives a chance to video call or an audio-call based appointment to the patient. The whole process is conducted through a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Synchronous modality sometimes involves on-site checkup of a patient with peripheral equipment used by another healthcare provider (non-doctors) to send live updates to the doctors.
Asynchronous modality allows the patients to send their images, or clinical data through a portal that uses a direct messaging client. This type of modality doesn’t use the live connection methods. The doctor sees the patient details later.
- Remote Patient Monitoring:
Through this modality, a doctor receives patient data either live or stored, but from a distance.
3. User-Friendly Interface
Imagine being stuck at home with a patient. You open a telehealth platform, but it is too complicated to handle. You try hard to find an online doctor, but you fail miserably because the system requires too much digging to find one.
Frustrating, right? That’s why a virtual care platform needs to be user-friendly. The interface should be convenient enough to make non-specialists understand its usage.
The user interface is an important consideration for the healthcare providers as well, so any clinic switching to a virtual care solution vendor should make sure to adopt a functional interface.
4. Scalability that Allows EHR Integration
A telehealth platform must provide a patient with the electronic health record option. The electronic health record systems give a detailed view of a patient’s health.
A virtual care platform that enables EHR makes it easy for the patients to access their history, diagnostics, comparative health records and test results that do not require manual handling.
The EHR systems are also beneficial for doctors since they streamline the workflow for them. They have access to the complete history of their patients every time they log into an EHR-enabled telehealth platform that reduces the work pressure.
5. Data Analytics for Telehealth Platforms
Although data analytics used in a telehealth platform doesn’t directly affect patients, it enhances the overall performance of such systems. Data analytics can help healthcare providers to manage the appointment times, the volume of patients, diagnoses of patients and the outcomes.
A telehealth platform with data analytics involved at the back-end will always provide utmost patient care due to the strong grip on patient trends.
6. Telehealth Medical Billing
The telehealth platform must have an effective telehealth billing system in place that will allow the patients to book appointments as they visit the system. The automation of telehealth billing is an important aspect a patient should take into consideration when making an online appointment decision.
Platforms with faulty billing process not only cause wastage of time but in some cases, money as well.
7. Real-Time Support
You need to be able to contact someone if something goes wrong. You want a partner who can provide real-time help. Waiting for someone to call you may be extremely unpleasant, especially when it jeopardizes your ability to deliver care to your patients. You must be able to call and email your telemedicine provider. Customer service and commitment say volumes about a firm.
A telehealth platform is a relatively new experience for the world. Patients and HCP alike are adapting the technological advancements in the healthcare system. However, patients are more concerned about having the best-in-class healthcare support through a telehealth platform. The points mentioned in the above text can give you a direction of what to see in a virtual healthcare platform.