Even before the onset of the Covid-19 health crisis, healthcare leaders did not have it easy — physician burnout and physician suicide, exploding cost, a seemingly free-for-all growth of all kinds of of fee-for-service and value-based payment models, plus the impending impact of the digital health avalanche.

Now with Covid going up and down and up again, with confusing vaccination rules, workforce shortages, and increasing digital-first competition, the stakes are increasingly higher.

Whether Telehealth quickly made its way into your healthcare organization for the first time or was elevated to a new level, it was often seen by clinicians, patients, and leaders alike as a stop-gap measure. A quick, temporary solution to prevent healthcare from shutting down completely.

But telehealth is so much more than that.

The Versatility of Telehealth

A magic wand is a simple tool that in itself is not worth anything. But in the hands of the right person (preferably a wizard) it can accomplish things only limited by the imagination of the person wielding it.

In the hands of the right leader, telehealth holds the same power, the same potential.

It’s actually pretty easy to see why: At the core of every healthcare organization is the straightforward mission to deliver care. This includes the diagnosis, treatment and care management.

In its most basic definition, telehealth is simply “delivering care at a distance”. So at the core of telehealth is the core of healthcare: delivering care.

The only thing that’s different, that’s new, is that the patient does not have to be physically in front of the clinician.

So, if the mission of your clinic, of your hospital, of your health system is to serve your community by delivering care, why would you not leverage the magic of telehealth?

Before I get too carried away about the many reasons why healthcare is conservative and prone to resist change, here are some “magic tricks” that healthcare leaders can “play” with the magic wand of Telehealth:

25 Magic Tricks with Telehealth

In purposefully random order.

1. Make physicians happier by providing them a change of pace, switching for half a day to virtual only care.

2. Expand your geographic boundaries area by serving underserved communities “virtual first”.

3. Expand your hospital bed capacity by partnering up with home care agencies to launch a hospital at home program that leverages remote physiological monitoring and telehealth visits.

4. Delight your clinicians by allowing them to do telehealth from home (yes, it’s legal and reimbursable).

5. Reduce your readmission rate through partnerships with community primary care providers and remote physiological monitoring.

6. Increase loyalty by catering to the Modern Healthcare Consumer through convenient access – so they don’t have to use your competition (e.g., the telehealth service provided by the payor).

7. Expand your clinic’s specialties by facilitating access to remote specialists, such as pediatric cardiologist consults or genetic counseling specialists.

8. Offer virtually integrated behavioral health care so patients are in a safe environment, but one behavioral health professional can serve dozens of sites.

9. Reduce stroke mortality in your ER by starting or building out your TeleStroke program.

10. Leverage virtual supervision to leverage more advanced practice providers to deliver the day-to-day care, leaving time for physicians to focus on more complex patients.

11. Establish satellite clinics in rural areas for TeleExams aided by a TelePresenter.

12. For your populations under a value-based arrangement (where you are not worried about fee for service) create truly warm handoffs, effective care coordination, and efficacious care transitions (that’s actually 3 magic tricks in one!).

13. Create a school-based telehealth program to connect more with the community.

14. Expand your school-based telehealth program, especially in communities that are farther away, to offer telehealth to school employees or the parents or even the community at large.

15. Leverage virtual psychological evaluations in the ER to improve throughput in your ER by getting patients out of the ER as quickly as possible, removing exam room bottlenecks.

16. Fight back against fragmented care by offering self-insured employers access to your telehealth so that their employees receive all their care from your organization.

17. Equip a medical van with telehealth capabilities.

18. Safe lives by working with your local EMS company, adding telehealth and telemetry capabilities in the ambulance.

19. Safe cost and improve outcomes by equipping paramedics with telehealth capabilities to provide community care under clinical supervision directly on the site of an accident or in the patient’s home.

20. Keep your ER capacity open for true emergencies by starting the ER visit at home.

21. Differentiate yourself from your local and the virtual competition by making yourself known as an organization that can rapidly adopt digital health innovation.

22. Produce and share with patients pre-corded diagnostic, pre-procedure, or post-procedure videos with each of your clinical and surgical specialists to ensure that patients can absorb all the information they need to know.

23. Prevent the onset of severe disease through periodic remote physiological monitoring and patient engagement created through telehealth connection, e.g., with a monitoring nurse.

24. Use your telehealth prowess to attract forward-thinking, future-oriented staff and clinicians.

25. Reinvent your care delivery mission by leveraging telehealth and digital health as a transformational force to achieve the quadruple aim.

I’ll stop at 25 though there are many more including TeleSurgery, TeleDentistry, TeleRehab and many more.

So, which magic tricks will you perform this week?

Share this list with the CEO of your healthcare organization!

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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.