Optimization is commonly defined as the act of making the best use of a resource. Optimization is also a mindset to continually improve: not to pursue perfection, but to continue to reduce wasted time or resources.
If we were living in a static world, optimization would be akin to putting the finishing touches on something: to buff and polish make minute adjustments and corrections to achieve the desired state. Alas since our world, especially in healthcare, is very dynamic, we constantly need to adjust and modify to keep things “optimized”.
In either case, you need a solid set of tools that can help you to optimize your telehealth performance. If you’re optimizing engine performance you need a special set of tools to do so. Same for optimizing an athlete’s performance (e.g., high-speed video recordings) or a singer’s performance (e.g., auto tune, reverb).
Basic Optimization Tools
To optimize the performance of telehealth at your organization, you need a solid set of tools. Telehealth affects and is impacted by at least a dozen teams – from scheduling to billing, from IS to networking, from compliance to marketing, from nursing to providers; including a number of leaders.
The first set of tools are your basic tools that would need in almost any kind of service improvement project: leadership engagement, optimization vision, and project management.
Leadership Engagement: Any optimization effort requires the support and engagement of leadership for a multitude of reasons. First off, optimization requires resources such as staff time and investments and it is typically leadership that okays or supports the spending of those resources.
Optimization Vision: As the old adage goes: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”. Without a clear understanding of what optimization will look like when it’s done, the effort will probably be over the minute it begins. Without clear objectives, the team will not know what to focus on and when to declare success.
Project Management: Project Management can take on many different forms of formality and most improvement efforts do not require a lot of “project management” overhead. Still, with so many stakeholders involved and different people working on different parts, the communication created through project management is the glue that will hold the team together. Besides, if you’re failing to plan, you’re planning to fail, so Project Management can prove its value quickly very early on in the planning phase.
Essential Telehealth Optimization Tools
Simply put, an optimized Telehealth Service should like the phone or the building: you don’t even notice anymore that it is there. The next set of tools aim to improve the chances of quick success of getting your organization’s telehealth offerings to this experience. The essential tools include:
- A Vision for Telehealth’s place in your organization
- Clinical Leadership to ensure acceptance across all providers
- A Telehealth Performance Measurement System to know where you are
- A Telehealth Governance Team to provide accountability
- Clinical Guidelines to direct the use of telehealth as a clinical tool
- Video Visit Training to improve providers confidence with this new modality
- Pre-Visit TechChecks to ensure that patients are well connected