Thank you to the 700+ subscribers of Telehealth Tuesday for your continued interest in our articles. As we look back on this year, just as we did at the end of 2020, we wanted to highlight those articles that resonated most with our readers.

Upon review of this year’s 50 or so articles, a few themes emerged — articles on Telehealth Strategy, on meeting the demand for telehealth, on Telehealth Optimization and on “Physicians on Video”.
Telehealth Strategy

As it became increasingly clear that “Telehealth is here to stay” for good, many leaders looked for guidance as to what their telehealth strategy should look like. Here are a handful of articles that tackled this crucial topic.

With very few organizations actually having a telehealth strategy, in this column we explored the Purpose of a Telehealth Strategy.

Unsurprisingly, the answers are the same as for any strategy: Raise awareness and provide clarity to create the desire; establish focus and prioritize projects so leadership can allocate resources.

After one of our presentations on telehealth strategy, our client asked us for guidance on how to assess the quality of one’s telehealth strategy and we documented our recommendations in the Telehealth Strategy Gap Analysis.

The six elements we looked at were the Telehealth Vision & Objectives and the Strategic Alignment; a (financial) Sustainability Model, a Marketing Plan, and a Roadmap of current and future Telehealth Services.

What was often surprising to most healthcare leaders new to telehealth was the breadth and variety of care delivery services that could be considered telehealth. Thus to develop a “roadmap” of telehealth services, we provided insights into 9 Ways to Deliver Extraordinary Care Virtually.

The services described range from the common “live audio/video” to the more futuristic-sounding practice of prescribing Digital Apps for treatment, and telephonic care or remote monitoring being in the middle.

To implement the strategy, a fourth article highlighted the fact that, just like in all of healthcare, It Takes A Village to design, launch, and run a successful telehealth service.

Everyone from clinicians and nurses to IT and legal need to be involved in making sure that the telehealth services are well designed and well-run.

Meeting the Demand for Telehealth

While healthcare consumerism started many years ago, the widespread availability of telehealth options resulted in an increase in demand, originating from the Modern Healthcare Consumer — a new type of healthcare customer whose expectations are more along the lines of a Disney or Amazon experience than the traditional healthcare “waiting room” encounter.

Illustrative of this new type of customer, in one article from Spring 2021, we outlined the story of a patient who actually fired her primary care physician, because of their lack of willingness to offer telehealth. A true example of “voting with your feet”, which in this virtual world is getting increasingly easier with plenty of virtual care options available.

A third article in this theme focused on the notion of what it means to deliver “100% telehealth”. In our view, that does not mean that all healthcare is delivered virtually; rather it means that it is delivered all of the time when three criteria are met:

1. The patient wants it;
2. It is clinically appropriate;
3. The patient has the technical capability.
Thus, 100% Telehealth is not a Dream and quite feasible to achieve.
Telehealth Optimization

So what are healthcare leaders to do if they already launched telehealth and are using it? The key concept: Continuous Improvement. Consequently, the majority of our pragmatic guidance on telehealth for healthcare leaders focused on a variety of perspectives on how to optimize one’s telehealth services.

The keystone article around telehealth optimization focused on our Framework for Telehealth Optimization.

The framework laid the groundwork for covering the 7 key elements to focus optimization on: virtual care strategy, performance management, clinician engagement, workflows, governance & support, technology, and marketing.

Beyond the framework a second article listed 7 specific Essential Tools for Optimizing Telehealth, ranging from the creation of a meaningful Vision for the Telehealth Program and Engaging Clinical Leadership to develop Clinical Guidelines to Video Visit training (see below) and Pre-Visit Tech Checks, complimented by well-defined governance and support staff, all held to account through telehealth performance measures.

A third article on Optimization focused on the 6 Smart Moves to Optimize Telehealth which includes the general optimization of the clinical, financial and operational performance plus the more specific guidance on improving patient engagement (see the Modern Healthcare Consumer above), leveraging telehealth to improve your quality scores, and expanding into remote patient monitoring.
Physicians on Camera Delivering Care

One of the key challenges of successful telehealth adoption is to increase the comfort level for clinicians when engaging in telehealth.
In our work with clinicians for the past years, one of the biggest (and easiest to overcome hurdles) is to get physicians empowered to deliver extraordinary care while being on camera.

While some physicians have a natural affinity for the camera lens, many do not, yet it only takes 15 minutes to meaningfully introduce clinicians to the basic Webside Manners.

Over the course of three articles we laid out the 10 benefits of investing in “webside manner training”.

From 2021 to 2022

With the Omicron variant now running rampant (Maryland just saw a 2.5 times more the number of daily infections than the prior peak in Jan 2021) and evolved variants becoming more infective, the mood right now is “unpredictable” at best.

Even more reason to now double down on taking full advantage of telehealth, which is why last week I shared a battle plan for combating Omicron and held a free webinar on the eve of Christmas eve (the recording is now available when registering for the webinar).

So here’s to a new year, with new opportunities to apply what we learned in the last two years. Be healthy!
To discuss how your organization can best optimize its use of telehealth, schedule a complimentary call with Christian.

To receive articles like these in your Inbox every week, you can subscribe to Christian’s Telehealth Tuesday Newsletter.

Subscribe to Telehealth Tuesday

Christian Milaster and his team optimize Telehealth Services for health systems and physician practices. Christian is the Founder and President of Ingenium Digital Health Advisors where he and his expert consortium partner with healthcare leaders to enable the delivery of extraordinary care.

Contact Christian by phone or text at 657-464-3648, via email, or video chat.