Interoperability in healthcare: Paving the way to better telehealth experiences
The healthcare industry has long pursued interoperability — or clinical connectivity — to facilitate the exchange of information between organizations and improve the quality of care. With the recent widespread adoption of telehealth, as practices consider a hybrid telehealth and in-person approach, interoperability remains a top concern.
Telehealth is now commonplace, and most healthcare professionals will tell you it’s here to stay. Read on to learn about current regulatory guidelines that support telehealth, the relationship with interoperability, and the role of a cloud-based EHR in virtual care.
From futuristic to commonplace
Not long ago, telehealth was seen as a futuristic healthcare model. The COVID-19 pandemic hastened its uptake and use, initially out of necessity. Since then, however, telehealth use has surged to 38 times what it used to be pre-pandemic, a 2021 McKinsey study found.
Patients reported reduced stress and greater convenience because they were able to connect to their appointments from personal devices, instead of having to spend time in traffic to get to an office.
Providers have reported some benefits of telehealth services too. They include reduction in no-show rates and being able to spend more dedicated time attending to patients’ needs.
Virtual telehealth: a hybrid model
It isn’t a matter of whether practices should incorporate telehealth as part of a post-pandemic strategy, but rather how they will do so to remain competitive in this changing landscape. Practices have started investing in platforms that can accommodate this change.
Designing a hybrid telehealth and in-person model could help preserve healthcare accessibility for patients while improving convenience for providers. Adding telehealth as a part of a comprehensive care model may also boost revenues.
Ideally, a practice should have systems in place that can address these needs:
Improved data integration and data flow across various participants in the healthcare ecosystem Better integration of virtual health into daily provider workflows to enable a truly hybrid approach Alignment of incentives for using virtual care within the broader value-based care framework as providers break out of the fee-for-service mold
If providers can schedule appointments outside “regular” office hours, they could potentially expand their billable time, sometimes without incurring any extra overhead expenses. Alternatively, staggering telehealth session between in-office visits can make up for lower numbers of in-office patient appointments, as practices continue to limit the number of patients in the waiting room at any one time.
Regulatory guidelines support virtual care and telehealth
Ongoing federal and state regulatory updates support the transition to virtual care, with attention paid to interoperability in healthcare. Multiple incentive programs currently exist, and reimbursements are closely tied to clinical outcomes.
Additionally, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is tasked with monitoring the technology solutions that support the provision of virtual medical care. Interoperability in healthcare, along with security and usability, are areas of focus:
Interoperability: The seamless integration of technology that supports ease of access and the ability to exchange relevant health information between providers and patients. Security: How well these telehealth and related systems comply with HIPAA privacy and security guidelines and whether they allow only authorized users to access protected health information (PHI) as needed. Usability: Whether the systems conform to a user-centered design that would allow for certification testing, and whether they enable end users ease of use without the exertion of special effort.
Cloud-based EHR systems, virtual care, and telehealth
A platform that facilitates a hybrid model ideally would give providers access to patients’ PHI via a secure cloud-based EHR system. Having an integrated system that supports the secure provision of telehealth — and that also allows the exchange of patient information across connected platforms and devices — would make secure collaboration easier for providers.
A communications platform based on the cloud can provide seamless integration between EHRs and patient portals. Cloud-based EHR systems that allow telehealth, as well as patient portal and messaging features, help ensure positive experiences for patients. Having telehealth platforms work with patients’ personal devices also makes it easy for patients to receive medical care in a manner that is secure and compliant with state and federal privacy laws.
Long-term virtual care and telehealth technology solutions
Adopting telehealth for the long-term increases ease of use for both providers and patients. Greenway Telehealth™ makes it easy for providers to deliver care from anywhere. It facilitates patient engagement and improves workflow efficiency using a secure, HIPAA compliant platform.
To get started with Greenway’s telehealth services and its all-in-one integrated platform, schedule a consultation today.