4 Telehealth Best Practices for Delivering Quality Patient Care

Telehealth has played a significant role in augmenting healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most states in the U.S. have modified their existing regulations and rules to increase access to healthcare services using telehealth.  

Due to lockdowns and coronavirus restrictions, including the need for social distancing, health-seeking behaviors were disrupted. Most patients were not sure if health facilities were safe to visit. However, most healthcare providers quickly transitioned to telehealth to take care of patients, especially those with chronic conditions that require close monitoring.

Telehealth allows clinicians to interact with patients remotely. This reduces the risks and costs associated with in-person clinic visits. Many clinics were already well versed in the use of this technology, but many others were forced to quickly adopt telehealth and make it mainstream.

Remote care has been widely used to follow-up COVID-19 patients after they are discharged from the hospital. It has also been helpful in offering mental health services to patients and healthcare workers at risk of mental distress. 

Telehealth does not necessarily compromise the quality of patient care. Here are 4 telehealth best practices for delivering quality patient care:

Live Video

Health care providers are increasingly using live video or real-time consultations in place of in-person clinic visits. This is a two-way interaction between a patient and a healthcare professional through audio-visual telecommunication technology.

Doctors use this technology for consults not only in outpatient settings, but also in hospitals. Live video has expanded to places like the intensive care unit where intensivists can remotely monitor a patient and have interactive video communication with the ICU on-site staff and observe patients in real-time.

Live video is also helpful in emergencies where specialists can give their input remotely if they cannot be there in person. For example, a patient with a stroke presenting to the emergency department can be quickly evaluated by a tele-neurologist. “Time is brain!”

Another significant benefit of live video consultations is expanding the reach of specialists that are unavailable locally. Patients with limited mobility also benefit from this service. But even patients without any physical disabilities find remote care very convenient. Patients seeking behavioral health might feel more comfortable having a therapy session without leaving their home. 

Telehealth encompasses health education. You can conduct group visits using video conferencing to reach multiple attendees in different locations. Patients can also use it to attend disease management courses.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

This involves the collection of medical and personal health data remotely. The data is collected using digital devices and transmitted electronically. Some of the data you can collect using RPM include blood oxygen levels, blood sugar, vital signs, weight, heart rate, and electrocardiograms.

The data helps you monitor a patient and enhance case management. It is an excellent way of reducing readmissions. 

It also helps in keeping senior citizens, patients with disabilities and mobility challenges healthy. This is a perfect way of improving their quality of life and controlling healthcare costs.

Mobile Health – Health Monitoring App On Smartphone

Mobile Health (mHealth)

According to the World Health Organization, mHealth involves “the use of mobile devices and technologies to support the achievement of health objectives.” It uses connections, devices, and apps to allow users to reach out in different ways.

mHealth constitutes self-care apps that remove the need for direct interaction with a clinician in disease management. They have pre-loaded guides to educate patients and caregivers on disease management. Some may help them carry tests like glucose checks and blood pressure levels.

Some apps require the patient to collect medical data and upload it on the app. Then a physician may use it in deciding the best medical intervention for the patient. However, mHealth effectiveness depends on the app’s operability and the ability of the users to operate the app.

Store-and-Forward

Store-and-forward involves collecting medical data and transmitting it through electronic communication tools to a medical care provider. The data is used for procedures outside of the real-time doctor-patient interactions.

Health care facilities collect the data, then store it and transmit it securely. The data may include MRIs, X-rays, photos, video-exam clips, or patients’ data.

Medical professionals seeking assistance in consultations and diagnoses mostly use store-and-forward. Since this procedure does not require face-to-face interactions between medical practitioners, it is effective as it removes the challenge of scheduled appointments.

Store-and-forward reduces the waiting time for patients to receive specialized care. For example, primary care providers can take a picture of a skin condition and forward it to a dermatologist to evaluate and give their treatment plan and recommendations at their convenience. It also helps overcome cultural and language barriers.

Telehealth Reimbursements

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for telehealth reimbursements. Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance providers are now more open to reimbursing medical professionals for telehealth services. Healthcare providers are lobbying for the telehealth reimbursement policies to be retained after the pandemic.

However, reimbursement relies heavily on accurate documentation. As a medical professional, you should provide attestations for telehealth services you offer patients to qualify for reimbursement.

You have to familiarize yourself with the telehealth visit documentation requirements. Some of the codes you may use may be new to you, and unless you document them accurately, you may experience problems when claiming your reimbursement. 

The codes categorize services depending on the method and communication technology used, such as patient portal messages, telehealth video visits or telephone consultations. Ensure you know how telehealth visit documentation requirements align with current procedural terminology (CPT) and evaluation and management (E/M) codes from the American Medical Association (AMA).

While treating several patients, you may find it challenging to complete your clinic notes to keep your documentation accurate and up-to-date. However, with the right medical documentation dot phrases and templates, you can keep your notes organized, accurate, and up-to-date.  

StatNote developed a web application to help with medical documentation. Chartnote offers smart templates and voice recognition to reduce the burden of typing lengthy notes so that you can concentrate on your patients. With Chartnote, you can capture the essentials of each visit with less effort. Chartnote’s next-generation AI speech recognition technology powered by Augnito can help you spend less time finishing your notes and avoid working after clinic hours or at home. Prevent “pajama time” and give yourself permission to relax and attend to your other non-work-related matters after your shift.

How is telehealth transforming your practice? Share your tips on best practices for delivering quality patient care by commenting below.

Discover Chartnote – We are passionate about preventing physician burnout by decreasing the burden of medical documentation.

About Chartnote

Chartnote is revolutionizing medical documentation one note at a time by making voice-recognition and thousands of templates available to any clinician. We know first-hand that completing notes while treating patients is time-consuming and an epic challenge. Chartnote was developed as a complementary EHR solution to write your SOAP notes faster. Focus on what matters most. Sign up for a free account: chartnote.com

Posted on: July 2, 2021, by :

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