Want to build a great telehealth practice? Interoperability is key
The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t a telehealth revolution — more like a stress test for platforms, providers, and patients as the healthcare industry experienced a seismic shift.
As the world looks forward to a post-COVID landscape, healthcare providers have a new challenge: adapting the lessons they learned during the pandemic as they settle on long-term, sustainable strategies for HIPAA-compliant telehealth.
The shift wasn’t just internal — patient behaviors and expectations also changed, and a user-friendly, no-hassle telehealth experience matters. Providers have their own needs, too, like interoperable platforms that integrate with electronic health record (EHR) and practice management systems and conform to 21st Century Cures Act requirements.
Keep reading to learn more about how interoperable telehealth platforms can meet the needs of patients and providers.
Telehealth is here to stay
There’s no shortage of statistics that point to the enormous growth in telehealth since the start of the pandemic. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that the pandemic brought a 63-fold increase in the number of telehealth visits billed to Medicare. Telehealth use jumped 154% during the fourth week of March 2020, compared with the same week the year before.
But one statistic stands out: According to McKinsey & Company, telehealth use stabilized at 38 times its pre-pandemic level. A patient survey from consulting firm Accenture found that most patients used telehealth for the first time during the pandemic. More than that, most of them liked it and wanted to use more technology for their future care needs.
Healthcare providers like it too. In its COVID-19 Telehealth Impact Study, the American Medical Association (AMA) and its industry partners found the majority of physicians surveyed — about 68% — wanted to increase telehealth use, particularly for chronic disease management. But those same physicians had some concerns, too. Chief among their criticisms: technology challenges for patients, integration with EHR, and clinician dissatisfaction.
Balancing patient wants with provider needs
When patients schedule a telehealth appointment, their expectations are straightforward: a convenient, user-friendly telehealth platform. They don’t want to download new software or need a username and password to log in for their appointments. If they must wait a few minutes for their clinicians to start their appointments, status updates let them know that their provider really is coming.
An intuitive platform matters a lot, but patients value their privacy even more, according to the Accelerate Health 2020 Consumer Telehealth survey published by HIMSS. The survey also found that when it comes to their privacy, patients trust their providers to choose a safe, secure platform. For patients, the most important part of healthcare isn’t necessarily an in-person visit — it’s the quality of their relationships with their providers.
Providers have the responsibility to invest in patient-friendly telehealth solutions that protect privacy while also facilitating high-quality patient care. A truly functional telehealth platform offers more than just video visits — it should integrate with patient engagement tools, as well as EHR and practice management software. In addition to HIPAA compliance, providers should also choose tech solutions that meet Cures Act requirements.
What is interoperability in healthcare?
Interoperability — the ability of disparate systems to exchange information — should be a top priority for any provider making strategic technology decisions. Providers should be able to share information rapidly and securely with their patients, other providers, and payers. And clinical software like telehealth platforms, as well as EHR and practice management systems, should integrate seamlessly.
Interoperable telehealth software lets providers access patient data during telehealth visits and works with patient engagement tools and remote monitoring devices. Telehealth interoperability — and interoperability among all clinical software — simplifies documentation in EHR and easily transfers patient data for smooth, easy billing. And under the requirements of the Cures Act, interoperable software that facilitates patient access to their own data is a legal requirement.
Greenway Telehealth™ offers a HIPAA-compliant interoperable telehealth solution that fully integrates with practice management and EHR platforms and won’t disrupt existing workflows.
- Providers can access the EHR during telehealth visits and utilize patient flow tracking and appointment matching capabilities.
- Patient-friendly features include one-click entry with no downloads or passwords required and virtual waiting with a timer.
- Group calls allow supportive guests to participate, and the platform is accessible on multiple device types, including mobile devices and computers.
Driving patient satisfaction and better care
The telehealth boom represented a permanent change to healthcare delivery, with positive reception from both patients and providers. When choosing a telehealth platform, providers need to look for patient-friendly, HIPAA-compliant telehealth solutions that integrate with EHR and practice management software without disrupting workflow.
Interoperable telehealth software ensures that patients receive quality care and each visit can be easily and accurately documented and billed without additional administrative burden.
Explore what interoperability can do for your practice.