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Telehealth strategies for hospitals and health systems — and should you make the investment?

We're in the midst of a healthcare transformation. Learn how telehealth helps boosts patient access to care, lowers costs and elevate patient outcomes and take the assessment to see if it's the right investment for your organization.

Telehealth is no longer just a buzzword in healthcare, but an integral part of modern healthcare systems. 

The pressures of COVID-19’s aftereffects and the growing, diversifying need to provide quality care to patients have sped up the adoption of telehealth strategies in hospitals and health systems around the country. 

And, the integration of technology into healthcare services has proven to be invaluable, especially during uncertain times. Yet, with many telehealth strategies out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

In this post, we’ll cover key areas where telehealth operations can benefit hospitals and health systems, and highlight funding and resources to help providers adopt these strategies and obtain the necessary licensing.

Benefits of telehealth for hospitals and health systems

Telehealth, or the delivery of healthcare services through digital communication technology, has emerged as a game changer in the healthcare industry. Hospitals and health systems are increasingly adopting telehealth strategies, and for good reason. By leveraging the power of technology, telehealth can help hospitals and health systems improve access to care, lower costs, and enhance patient outcomes.

One key advantage of telehealth is the ability to reach patients in remote or underserved areas, who may not have easy access to traditional healthcare services. This is especially important for patients with chronic conditions, who require ongoing monitoring and care. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, telehealth has been shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospitalizations for patients with chronic conditions.

Telehealth can also help hospitals and health systems reduce costs by minimizing the need for expensive infrastructure and personnel. For example, by allowing providers to remotely monitor and treat patients, telehealth can reduce the need for hospital visits and readmissions, which can be costly for both patients and hospitals.

Overall, telehealth has the potential to transform healthcare delivery by increasing access to care, reducing costs, and improving patient outcomes. In the next sections, we will explore the strategies hospitals and health systems can use to effectively implement telehealth and reap these benefits.

Telehealth strategies for hospitals and health systems

One of the key components of successful telehealth operations is the adoption of virtual care and patient engagement tools. Let’s look at a few reasons to consider a telehealth strategy and the benefits they offer:

Gives your organization an edge by extending reach of care

These tools can help health systems and hospitals overcome the challenges of reaching patients in remote or underserved areas, improving access to care for all. 

At times, patients will request a second opinion and in 2020, Yale Medicine did a deep dive into the issue, drawing multiple studies and experiences together that illustrated the need for this often-ignored area of healthcare. 

Accessing a second opinion is not always convenient though, which is where telehealth for hospitals and health systems offers a solution with the idea of a virtual second opinion platform. 

Healthcare institutions can build apps that connect them with patients specifically looking for second opinions, either to be conducted online (where possible) or in person. For key resources on adopting telehealth strategies, we’d recommend this US government website which covers all the basics. 

Lets you meet patients where they’re at

The use of telehealth technologies can also enhance patient engagement, providing patients with more convenient options for care and empowering them to take a more active role in their health. 

Adopting telehealth for hospitals and health expands the market possibilities for health practitioners and makes it much easier to reach more patients in a difficult situation. If someone in need cannot physically make it to an in-person appointment because of health reasons or are simply too busy or far away, they can make use of virtual tools instead.

Additionally, by reducing the need for in-person visits, virtual care can lower costs for both patients and providers, freeing up resources that can be allocated elsewhere in the organization. The AMA Telehealth Implementation Playbook is an incredible resource that details a highly-effective twelve-step process for adopting real-time audio and visual appointments between patients and their care providers. It’s worth a look.

Grows your knowledge base 

One of the most significant advantages that telehealth for hospitals can provide is a better connection between hospitals all around the country. It’s not only patients who sometimes need a second opinion, doctors also look to specialists and experts in the field when faced with tricky cases. Telehealth platforms make it possible to show where certain specialists are, what their experience mostly covers, and can make them contactable directly through an app to avoid unnecessary hassle. 

During the pandemic, being able to reach out to colleagues at different institutions became particularly important. There was so little known about how to handle the situation that healthcare providers needed to pool information and resources in order to get through. 

Rural medical providers felt this most acutely and were often isolated from information centers. With telehealth operations, hospitals can streamline how they share information when infectious diseases hit so that even while a situation is still developing, they can lean on each other’s findings from across their different locations.

The increased collaboration that hospital telehealth can foster is a game-changer for doctors who need assistance with patients and ultimately, increases the quality of care for all. However, building infrastructure that can facilitate this isn’t always easy. 

Navigating critical telehealth adoption challenges

However, in order to fully leverage these tools, health systems and hospitals must navigate complex licensing requirements, as well as compliance with state and federal regulations. 

This can be a significant hurdle for many organizations, as the process is often time-consuming and resource-intensive. 

To overcome these challenges, healthcare organizations can turn to third-party partners and advanced technologies that offer automated solutions for managing provider data and ensuring compliance with changing regulations. 

When it comes to adopting virtual care and patient engagement tools, Medallion offers key capabilities that can help health systems and hospitals break through licensing bottlenecks. 

Many health systems still rely on manual administrative processes to manage provider data and licensure, but this only adds to the existing challenges they face. 

At Medallion, we recognize that the key to expanding patient care lies in removing the red tape that's holding health systems back.

Our automated network management platform leverages advanced technologies to help healthcare partners license providers across multiple states, and to verify and monitor their credentials to ensure strict compliance. 

This is particularly important as state and federal regulations continue to change. 

Our technology also enables health systems to redirect cost-savings into digital infrastructure development, such as better technology for virtually-enabled visits and tools to protect patient privacy.

By eliminating administrative inefficiencies, Medallion enables healthcare providers to spend less time on paperwork and more time providing care to patients, no matter where they are. We believe that this is key to helping health systems adopt telehealth strategies and provide better care for their patients.

By embracing virtual care and patient engagement tools and overcoming these barriers, health systems and hospitals can improve patient outcomes, expand their reach, and reduce costs.

Funding and resources for telehealth 

When it comes to implementing telehealth strategies, hospitals and health systems can benefit from a range of funding and resources that are available to them. 

In addition, telehealth training and certification programs can help providers and staff become more comfortable with virtual care and ensure that they are delivering high-quality care through telehealth. These programs can also provide guidance on best practices for telehealth, including how to conduct virtual visits, how to manage virtual patient records, and how to ensure patient privacy and security.

To stay up-to-date on the latest developments in telehealth, hospitals and health systems should also look to industry organizations and professional associations that provide telehealth guidelines and best practices. For example, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) offers a range of resources and recommendations for telehealth implementation, while the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers provides training and technical assistance to help organizations expand their telehealth capabilities.

Additionally, the Healthcare Connect Fund, a component program of the FCC's Rural Health Care Program, may be worth applying for as the fund is aimed at rural institutions and gives eligible healthcare providers funding to invest in telehealth support tools such as broadband services, network equipment, and HCP-constructed and owned network facilities.

Those interested can apply as an individual or through a consortium and hopefully get assistance in using telehealth to expand how they connect with both patients and other practitioners.

By leveraging these funding and resources, hospitals and health systems can overcome many of the challenges associated with telehealth implementation and take advantage of the many benefits that virtual care has to offer.

Ultimately, it’s about increasing the efficacy of healthcare

Telehealth has completely transformed the way healthcare providers interact with their patients. It allows for simple check-ins and quick confirmations, all done over the phone or video chat. Even text messaging apps can be used to remind patients of their appointments or medication schedules. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of having alternative modes of communication when in-person appointments aren't possible. Telehealth not only allows for constant care, but it can also help with early detection and lifestyle changes that can prevent chronic conditions from becoming worse. The AMA playbook is an excellent resource that can help many providers adopt remote patient monitoring and virtual tools to manage chronic conditions more effectively.

The key benefit of telehealth for hospitals and health systems is the flexibility it provides to patients and providers alike. By leveraging platforms like Medallion, healthcare providers can remotely reach out to their patients and vice versa, resulting in a more efficient and effective healthcare system overall. 

As the US Senate considers expanding healthcare coverage to include telehealth, it's clear that telehealth is here to stay and will continue to play a significant role in the future of healthcare.

Should you make the move to telehealth?

There are several key questions that health systems and hospitals can ask to evaluate whether telehealth service offerings are right for your organization and worth the investment. Here are a few examples:

  1. What are the specific patient needs that telehealth services could help address, and how do those needs align with our organizational priorities?
  2. How would telehealth services fit within our current care delivery models, and what impact would they have on our workflow and operations?
  3. What resources and infrastructure do we need to support telehealth services, and what kind of investment will be required to implement and maintain them?
  4. How will we ensure the security and privacy of patient data when using telehealth services, and what policies and procedures do we need to have in place?
  5. What are the reimbursement and regulatory requirements for telehealth services, and how can we ensure compliance while maximizing the benefits to our organization and patients?

By asking these and other important questions, health systems and hospitals can make informed decisions about whether to pursue telehealth services and how to best implement them to improve patient care and outcomes.

In the end

As telehealth continues to grow and transform the healthcare industry, hospitals and health systems that adopt effective strategies and innovative solutions will have a distinct advantage in meeting the needs of patients and providers alike. 

By prioritizing patient engagement, optimizing operational workflows, and leveraging available funding and resources, these organizations can make the most of telehealth's potential to provide high-quality, accessible and affordable care. And while there may be challenges to overcome, such as navigating complex regulatory environments and ensuring provider readiness for change, the benefits of telehealth make it an essential investment. 

Solutions like Medallion, that offer advanced analytics and automated provider network management, help healthcare organizations maximize their potential and remain at the forefront of healthcare innovation. See how Medallion fits into your workflow today