If your telehealth services are not successful, if your telehealth program is not taking off, you may be missing a key ingredient: Telehealth PreVisit TechChecks.

Direct-to-Consumer Telehealth BC (Before Covid)

Before Covid-19, trying to launch a “direct-to-consumer”, “bring-your-own-device” telehealth service was one of the most complicated, most risky undertakings, because so much about the patient and the clinician experience is outside of our control.

Covid-19 catapulted us into this “DTC BYOD” telehealth flavor and many, many clinicians were struggling to get the technology to work — on behalf of their patients. Most clinicians were tech savvy enough (or had internal support) to get the technology up and running on their end. But plenty of patients struggled with a multitude of problems.

So in order to ensure the continuity of care (and because payors paid for it) many clinicians gave up and switched to telephonic care as stop-gap measure to at least provide some care to the patients who couldn’t, wouldn’t, or shouldn’t come in because of Covid.

But telephonic care, in many cases, is no substitute for a telehealth visit. While appropriate under some circumstances, a telehealth visit (85% of communication is non-verbal!) conveys a much richer, much more complete picture than just a voice over the phone – facial expression, eye contact, body language, clothing, personal hygiene, the living environment, etc. All these factors are “data points” that clinicians can take into account when deciding on the most appropriate direction for care.
The Anatomy of a Comprehensive Telehealth TechCheckâ„ 

TechChecks, unlike the name suggests, are about much more than just a check on the patient’s or client’s technology.

A pre-visit Telehealth TechCheck helps first-time telehealth users to become comfortable with the technology. It is also a wonderful opportunity for healthcare providers to demonstrate how much they care about their patient having a great experience during their visit.

The Telehealth TechCheck should be conducted by a friendly person with a great customer service attitude and a good aptitude for remote troubleshooting. Your highly introverted network engineer may not be the best person, nor may it be an IT help desk person that has never talked with patients.

As you can see from the checklist below, the conversation is two stages (a phone call followed by a test video visit) and covers much more than just the technology itself. Beyond the obvious, the purpose of the TechCheck is also to make sure that the patient “looks good”, i.e., that the clinician can have a great visit and conversation with the patient.

It is also an opportunity for overall customer service to ask the patient if there is anything else they may need help with – e.g., to schedule a different appointment, reschedule the appointment, etc.

The Telehealth TechCheckâ„  Checklist

Here’s a comprehensive list to cover during a TechCheck that typically starts
  1. Location – Will the patient be at the same location during the TechCheck as during the visit?
  2. Technology – Does the patient have access to the technology to conduct the telehealth visit? E.g., a computer, tablet, or SmartPhone.
  3. Connectivity – Does the patient have access to a reliable internet connection? Does the connection support video calls? Is the data plan limited?
  4. Joining – Can the patient easily join the room, e.g., via a link in a text message, email, or on the patient portal?
  5. Audio/Video – Can the patient clearly hear and see?
  6. Camera Angle – Can the patients full face and ideally upper body be seen?
  7. Lighting – Can the patient be seen clearly? Is the patient’s face well lit? Is a bright light source (behind the patient) darkening the patient’s face?
  8. Background – Is the background distracting (people walking by, pets, TV)? Is there anything in the background the patient does not want the clinician to see?
  9. Privacy – Is the patient’s privacy protected? Do they want to wear headphones? Can what they are saying be overheard?
Benefits of a Telehealth TechCheckâ„ 

Earlier this year the director of a telehealth program at a large renowned health system in Pennsylvania put in a request to hire 4 full-time employees to conduct TechChecks for their telehealth visits. Why? Because the clinicians were exhausted and frustrated from the ongoing technical challenges and having to help their patients to get the technology going. They had more valuable things to do than to become highly paid IT support professionals.

Well-executed Telehealth TechChecks provide a wide array of benefits:

  • First and foremost, during the visit doctor and patient can focus on the visit from the very first minute, with the technology quickly fading into the background, as it should be.
  • The telehealth TechCheck will leave the patient prepared and relaxed. Many patients that are not as tech savvy are often nervous, thereby impacting the quality of the visit.
  • The interaction with the friendly TechCheck person will have left the patient with the feeling that the organization cares about his or her care.
  • With a well lit patient that is framed well on camera, the clinician can conduct a much more effective meeting.
  • Frustration with technology is a key contributor to physician burnout, thus ensuring that clinicians have a great experience can significantly reduce stress.
  • After a successful experience both the clinician and the patient are more likely to select telehealth as a viable alternative to in-person care, which can reduce no shows, cancellations and contribute to a more consistent continuity of care.
The difference between a Great and Dismal Experience

Clinicians were rarely trained in the proper use of telehealth and during Covid were mostly left to their own devices in figuring things out. With telehealth being a proven, viable, efficacious method of delivering care, healthcare leaders must recognize that operational support for telehealth visit, e.g., in the form of Telehealth TechChecks is needed to ensure great patient outcomes and a high clinician satisfaction.

Once you implement this rocket fuel for telehealth, you will see your telehealth services “take off” and “sky rocket”.

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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.