How’s Telehealth working out for you?

If you’ve been tinkering with Telehealth, there’s probably one unsettling aspect that’s is starting to frustrate you inefficacy. 

After living and breathing Telehealth for the past few years, and observing how clinics are implementing Telehealth, the biggest problems that I see are the lack of automation in time-consuming processes, and the lack of integration between the major components of their Telehealth systems.  To the uninitiated, it may not be apparent what components comprise a successful telehealth system seeing as you don’t actually need anything fancy to make a video call.  It is easy to think you already have most things needed to do consultations online because you’ve already been doing them in-person.  You just need a smartphone, tablet or computer, and some fancy white headphones to convince your patients you’re modern, right?

It is precisely the approach that makes it very easy to start doing Telehealth, but very difficult to continue doing Telehealth.  I’ve observed many clinics that start doing Telehealth consultations in the above manner.  Once clinicians are doing more than 1 or 2 Telehealth consultations per day, the inefficacies materialise, and upon reflection it becomes apparent that their Telehealth system is:

  • Unprofessional in the patient’s experience, looking like a videocall they would do with a family member
  • Unreliable in audio-visual experience for both doctor and patient 
  • Unsafe, if the booking system and audio-visual platform are not appropriate for medical use (not HIPAA-accredited), or if the audio-visual platform allows patients to obtain their doctors phone number, or allows them to call the doctor outside of their designated appointment time.
  • Unsustainable, like having to manually:
    • Offer available appointment times to patients and book them in.
    • Identify applicable Medicare rebates for each patient based on rurality and other factors, and provide an itemised explanation of fee, Medicare rebate and out-of-pocket cost to the patient prior to booking
    • Process credit card payments
    • Send out scripts, and pathology forms
    • Manage referrals, ensuring they haven’t lapsed when patients are booking their next appointment. 
    • Employ additional practice staff or take-on extra non-clinical tasks yourself, because of all these tasks that could otherwise be performed automatically online with a fully-integrated telehealth setup are now taking up the time of existing staff.

A long-term strategy for doctors and medical practices

We are at an interesting crossroads, in that many doctors and medical practices are finding the technical and administrative burdens of providing a telehealth service to be fine for the short term, but too time-inefficient to continue in the long term.  Conversely, many patients, having now had a taste of the convenience of having consultations from home or work, want more of the same in future.  For doctors and practices to meet this demand and stay competitive in such an environment, they will need to find a sustainable long term solution.  What do I suggest?  Hold yourself and your practice to a higher standard; one that prioritises sustainability of doing Telehealth in the long term.  Invest in a HIPAA-accredited automated and integrated service that minimises the time spent on administrative tasks by yourself and practice staff. 

Proudly Australian owned

Diagnode is an Australian Telehealth solution built by doctors, for doctors, empowering practices around Australia with the tools needed to do Telehealth properly.  Diagnode continues to supply the infrastructure for the Telstra Business Award-winning nationwide Teledermatology service, Dermo Direct. 

To see the inefficacies Diagnode can reduce for your practice, please contact us.