Telehealth is first and foremost a clinical tool and to be successful and sustainable, telehealth optimization must focus on creating a stellar clinician experience.
If you want grow and expand your clinicians use of telehealth (when clinically appropriate) and to enjoy it more, then here are 5 areas of telehealth knowledge to share with your clinicians:
Telehealth Awareness Training
The first question that anyone asks before they try something new is: Why?
To enroll clinicians into accepting telehealth as a viable alternative care delivery modality in a hybrid care delivery model, the clinical and executive leaders must provide an answer to that question. Whether it’s the preferences of the Modern Healthcare Consumer or the competitive threat of the Digital Health Avalanche: by now every clinic, hospital, or health center should have a Telehealth Strategy that describes the vision and strategic priorities for telehealth.
Once created — preferably with the input from many clinicians — the leaders of the organization must share the vision (and impetus behind the strategy) with the clinicians.
Telehealth Workflow Training
The delivery of healthcare is at its core a collection of interconnected service workflows that involve a multitude of staff in addition to the clinicians. There are front office staff, schedulers, nurses, MAs, as well as billing people, and technical support staff that all may interact with the patient before, after and between appointments.
Once an organization has defined, documented, and refined the various telehealth workflows, clinicians must be trained on their part, especially the hand-off points from the preceding workflows (such as scheduling and rooming) and the hand-off to the workflows that happen after the appointment (such as post-visit and follow-up activities).
This workflow training (which often goes hand in hand with the technology training) should cover the steps for launching a virtual visit (including where to “find” the patient)
Telehealth Technology Training
“Telehealth is not about Technology – except when it is.”
When the technology to conduct telehealth visits has been appropriately selected and properly configured, connecting to a virtual exam room should be as easy as a single click and requires little training. Peripherals such as cameras, microphones, and speakers (or headsets) are straightforward accessories and a number of proven telehealth solutions exist that make the experience
Of course if your technology is not optimized for the clinician experience, then training needs will grow exponentially (as will clinician frustration).
Webside Manners Training
Over the course of their education, clinicians spend a considerable amount learning and mastering the art (and science) of bedside manners (which, by the way, can avoid many a malpractice lawsuit). Making patients feel at ease and listened to while maintaining a professional air of expertise is the hallmark of many successful clinicians I have met.
But the circumstances of a virtual care visit with the patient require a whole new set of “rules of engagement”: the webside manners. From simple tips of avoiding a cluttered (or brightly lit) background to more “outside the comfort zone” tips such as looking directly into the webcam lens to establish “eye contact” and trust — webside manners training covers a whole gamut of simple but proven tips to recreate the atmosphere of an in-person visit.
Virtual Exam Training
While these days a physical exam is rarely relied on as the sole diagnostic tool (thanks to radiological tests and lab work), it is still a tried and true practice to confirm the clinician’s initial diagnosis.
With telehealth’s increasing use in primary care, internal medicine, and urgent care, recreating the “hands-on” exam in a virtual care scenario is key to increase “traditionally trained” clinicians in the use of such virtual exam techniques. This can often easily be accomplished by collecting and sharing virtual exam best practices among peers or bringing in experienced telehealth clinicians (as we are doing for our clients).
A Small Investment for a Big Return
While the above list of training opportunities may look extensive, actually all of the sessions can be completed in less than 90 minutes total that even can be split up into 2-3 sessions.
- Awareness 10 min
- Workflow 10 min
- Technology 10 min
- Webside Manners 20 min
- Virtual Exam 30 min
If your biggest challenge to increasing the appropriate use of telehealth in your organization is clinician hesitation, then designing and rolling out a telehealth training program for clinicians as outlined above will very quickly yield the result you are looking for.
Contact us if you need additional guidance on how to design a telehealth training program for your 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.