Any telehealth platform your practice considers should contain the following elements:
- 100% secure and HIPAA compliant communications which cannot be edited nor deleted and are archived in the patient’s chart, allowing practitioners to quickly and conveniently reference past communication with their patients
- Multimodality communications which support bi-directional messages that engage patients in their preferred manner including secure text messaging, PDFs, images, video conferencing, and social media access
- An intuitive interface that takes hours or days for staff and clinicians to learn, not weeks or months
- Full integration with EHR and PMS systems
- No requirement for patients to download an app or log onto a portal to communicate with clinicians or office staff
The security component deserves special attention. Some practices will be tempted to use free communications platforms as they work to return to pre-COVID encounter levels. Not only do these channels fail to guarantee the safety of your data, many don’t store your data long term. The money you save on the front end may be completely eclipsed in the event of a breach or a lawsuit for which you cannot produce evidence.
Having an intuitive interface is important for getting staff and clinicians using the platform to communication with patients. It’s also key to improving internal communications. When everyone in the office (admins, nurses/nurse practitioners/PAs, and physicians) experiences streamlined communications, morale soars. Instead of chasing down providers to get questions answered and playing endless games of phone tag to follow up with patients, clinicians can enter the platform and perform multiple tasks from the same interface: ask a question, send a patient reminder, enter multiple e-prescriptions, and more.
All of the items on the list above are essential to providers looking to expand their practice. If virtual visits and fast, easy communication can be part of the experience, physicians have the option to expand well beyond the geographic area they previously served. This is welcome news in parts of the country where there’s a physician shortage and patients wait weeks or months for primary care appointments. It’s also a boon for rural areas where patients must travel miles for primary care and even longer distances to see a specialist.