It appears some people believe physicians are slow adopters to new avenues of health care delivery. Our recent survey of senior-level health care executives identified securing physician support as their second largest challenge to implementing telemedicine practices.
Recognizing that there are several important factors that go into developing a strong telemedicine program, here are three things organizations can do now to help encourage physician support:
1. In-Depth Education and Training on New Telemedicine Technology
Given the old adage that it takes 21 days to form a habit, it is unlikely that physicians will change the way they practice medicine or share information after a mere one-hour lunch training session. Providing adequate educational resources will help increase ease of use into day-to-day activities, and ensures that technology investments are well spent.
2. Put Quantifiable, Trackable Metrics in Place to Measure Telemedicine Progress
In the short term, your telemedicine program may save your organization money rather than be a revenue generator. This is particularly true in states without telemedicine commercial reimbursement statutes. But there are other ways to measure the impact of your program beyond dollars and cents. Are you reaching more patients? Are the patient outcomes and quality of care improving? Are readmissions reduced? What about patient satisfaction? Tracking this information, analyzing the trends, and mining the data will prove a key driver in demonstrating the effectiveness of your program to physicians.
3. Establish Clear Quality Standards for Telemedicine Services
The American Telemedicine Association calls standards and guidelines “the critical foundation for the deployment of telemedicine services.” They establish the structure for uniform, quality patient care and safety, while potentially accelerating the adoption of services by providers, administrators, and payers. Quality standards help ensure that your telemedicine practice is in line with industry, government agencies, medical societies, and other stakeholder standards. Having strong standards in place helps set the stage for physicians to understand what these services mean for their practice, and that what is being implemented meets regulatory requirements. Our survey respondents agree, with more than half having developed some set of standards and guidelines to steer the implementation of services.
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