Ninety percent of healthcare executives say they have or are starting telehealth programs. Twenty-nine states have policies mandating telehealth reimbursement. Thirty-five percent of employers now offer telehealth. As many as 70% of physician, ER, urgent care visits are estimated to be manageable by phone or video. Surveys show over and over again that patients value convenience foremost. Everyone is rushing to deploy telemedicine without really knowing what telemedicine is or what it takes to have a successful telemedicine program. Looking back on her many experiences and mistakes as a successful telemedicine pioneer and health care innovator, Kristi Henderson offers 5 principles for starting a telemedicine program:
1. Think broadly, have a strategic plan.
Instead of thinking in terms of which telemedicine services are covered by which CPT codes, look at the various possible revenue and funding sources for your telehealth program as a whole. Instead of planning for a specific program, have a strategic plan for deploying telemedicine to all your specialties from geriatrics to chronic disease and palliative care to ICUs. Use or create a platform that can be used across the entire healthcare system to reduce the number of different software programs, systems, and equipment you have to manage and learn to use.
2. Have an enterprise-wide approach.
Make sure everyone is on board with telemedicine and all the pieces are in place: finances, IT, marketing, legal, education, management services, providers, patients, staff, documentation, and billing / reimbursement. Appreciate the complexity of doing telehealth successfully.
3. Be completely invested in doing telemedicine.
Again, every part of the organization needs to buy into doing telemedicine and be trained to do their part.
4. Use blended payment models.
Have a realistic financial plan in place (grants? and then be flexible about changing payment models as your program gains traction.
Think from the perspective of those you’re serving. How can you help clinicians be more effective and efficient? Are you making it easy enough for patients and providers? Partner with vendors that you can work with to tweak and modify the technology as needed. Be ready to pivot if it’s not working.
Watch the full talk below to learn how Kristi Henderson overcame barriers to start a telemedicine program that has spread to 213 sites of service in 8 locations, offering 35 specialties, and serving 800,000 patients.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Kristi Henderson is a healthcare executive with over 20 years of experience as an innovator, health advocate, educator, researcher and clinician. She is the VP for Virtual Care & Innovation for Ascension-Texas Ministry and Clinical Professor of Population Health at the Dell Medical School at UT-Austin. Prior to this role, she served a long career at The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), where she was the Chief Telehealth & Innovation Officer. In that role, she led the development of a statewide telehealth program recognized as a national model.