Misconception #5: All Telehealth Services are similar to each other
Or stated in other words: Once we’ve established one telehealth service, we are doing telehealth.
The reality is, that “One swallow does not a summer make“. If you have established a single telehealth service, you have simply established a single telehealth service.
There are a great number of differences between the dozens or even hundreds of different types of telehealth services. And even if most things stay the same (same organization, same patient demographics, same geographic area), just moving from behavioral health to primary care or from pediatrics to behavioral health changes a lot of the key elements that make out a telehealth service, such as the workflows, policies, and the technology.
Most health systems will over the next months and years launch about 50-60 different telehealth services with smaller practices or rural community health centers looking at launching about a dozen different services.
Yet many organizational leaders and staff believe that since they launched one telehealth service, they are already “doing” telehealth, when in reality what they have is one or two telehealth services launched.
The Big World of Telehealth
Figuratively speaking, there are thousands of different telehealth use cases based on the permutation of the various characteristics of a telehealth visit. Which specialty is the service for? Is it a visit or does it include a virtual exam? Is the patient at home, at work, or in a clinic? Are our physicians providing the services? Are the appointments prescheduled, ad hoc, or same day appointments?
Telehealth is delivering care at a distance and by that definition covers the complete spectrum of care delivery — across all clinical specialties, across the various stages of care (from preventive to acute to chronic), to the many different locations (e.g., home, work, SNFs, ERs, rural clinics, etc.). There are dozens if not hundreds of different “use cases” for telehealth that require different business models, different technology, different workflows and also differ in their clinical efficacy.
- A TeleStroke service requires different equipment, different billing and reimbursement and very different workflows than a TelePsychiatry visit with a patient at a rural clinic.
- A Televisit to a patient’s home requires a different software than a Televisit with a patient presenting at a remote clinic.
- TeleExams for specialties such as cardiology or pulmonology require different tools than TeleExams for primary care.
- Remote Patient Monitoring for the purpose of preventing readmissions is a different service, than managing the high utilization of COPD patients through Remote Patient Monitoring.
Taken together (and multiplied) this graphic gives you an idea on how complex the world of telehealth can be and how the workflows and the technology will vary from use case to use case.