Read now: What clinic owners must do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tips to help you through the maze when implementing Telehealth in your private practice

Last updated: 20 April 2020

Most private practice clinics are scrambling to get Telehealth set up during the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve put together a practical list of tips for you.

We will probably update this list several times over the coming months.

Do your research

  • Check your indemnity insurance to ensure you are covered for Telehealth consultations.
  • Agree what types of services can be done via video.
  • Identify your patient profile and set expectations. How can you maximise the experience for patients?
  • Identify the technology you will use for delivery of digital care and any supporting technologies, like access to patient records.
  • Identify what you will charge for your services, whether insurance or medicare will cover fees and how you will receive payment.
  • Practice conducting patient meetings and accessing notes, using other staff or laypersons as “patients”. Practice with as many people as you can, especially outside of the office, to see what Internet connectivity issues you may run into. Develop an effective workflow and document it so other staff can refer to it.
  • Involve all staff with decisions and preparations. If everyone is on the same page, the patient experience will be better.

Appointment preparation

  • Send and receive new patient intake forms as PDF attachments via email, well in advance of the appointment.
  • Send patients a checklist of what they need to do, in preparation for their appointment. What hardware and software will they need? Will you send them an email with a clickable link to access the digital private meeting room? Remind them to dress appropriately, so you can see the relevant body parts clearly and allow free movement. Also remind them to adjust their lighting, reduce background noises and ask for uninterrupted private time from their families.
  • Work out payment options and inform the patient of how to pay for their session. Consider if you require payment in advance.
  • Asking the patient to be ready 10 minutes before the remote consultation commences and allow time to advise the patient on adjustments to the image, sound, lighting or positioning.
  • Allow extra time for sessions. Chances are you will experience delays in setup and configuration with the patient.
  • Have a contingency plan, if the technology fails. Could you resort to phone video (e.g. Facetime / Skype)? Do you have the patient’s contact details?
  • Ensure you have access to your patient records and front-desk software, especially if you are operating from home. You will need to take notes and manage appointments. Prepare a list of concerns you want to discuss and have a pen and notepad handy.
  • Other Internet users on your network may be chewing up data and affecting your connection speed. If working from home, ensure no-one else is streaming a movie or downloading large files. Also, ask your patient to be mindful of this.
  • Close your door and avoid any external audio distractions.
  • You can use a note-taking app on a tablet to draw pictures or write notes for your patient’s reference. You can then email these after the session. It’s even possible to connect a tablet to your PC such that your patient can see both you and the tablet screen side by side.

During the video session

  • Be mindful that you are live and on camera. Smile, relax and treat your patients as if they are there with you in person.
  • Confirm the identity of the patient. Obtain informed consent from the patient to participate in a remote consultation using Telehealth services.
  • Inform the patient if there will be out-of-pocket charges for remote consultations, compared to other available options.
  • Reassure the patient that the video consultation is just like a real appointment, the call is secure.
  • Introduce anyone else in the room (especially off-camera). Ask the patient to do the same or confirm they are alone.
  • Let the patient know when you are taking notes or reading from the screen — assuring your attention is with them.
  • Speak slow and clearly.
  • Before the end of the call, check with the patient if they need anything clarified.

After the appointment

  • Ensure that adequate clinical notes are placed in the patient’s health record.
  • Survey patients about their experience; this is new to everybody and you want to ensure your patients are getting maximum benefit.

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