Do you have to sacrifice security for ease of use? Is it possible to implement a HIPAA-compliant telehealth solution that’s as easy to use as making a phone call?
To protect patients and healthcare staff during the COVID pandemic, as well as maintain a business, healthcare providers across the country were pushed to quickly find a telehealth solution that worked for them. With hundreds of telehealth solutions on the market, all with a wide range of capabilities, it was a confusing landscape to navigate. Did you have to move too quickly during this chaotic time? If you were rushed into a decision or you now find yourself in need of a videoconferencing solution, here are five questions to ask when selecting a telehealth vendor.
Time is definitely of the essence to ensure that healthcare providers have the ability to care for patients, while also protecting staff and managing the business, during the COVID pandemic. Finding a telehealth vendor that can implement a solution quickly is a key priority. Many vendors were overwhelmed and have never caught up. Many telehealth providers have long implementation timelines. Updox is committed to helping practices get up and running with a telehealth solution within a day. "We were up and running within 15 minutes of having the service available. It has helped tremendously with TeleMed visits during COVID. Our patients love the option of TeleMed," said Christine Matoian, a physician with Preferred Women's Health in Michigan.
2 – Is the telehealth solution easy for patients to use?
A telehealth solution that requires downloading an app or creating an account and password will require more support than a solution that provides a simple link via e-mail and/or text to connect to the telehealth session. Other related considerations include does the solution work for most of your patients and does it protect your personal information? FaceTime might be easy to use but will only work for those who have Apple phones. Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts are also easy but they are not secure platforms. Also, healthcare providers would need to be comfortable sharing their personal cell phone numbers or social media accounts with services such as FaceTime or Facebook Messenger.
3 – Is the telehealth service HIPAA-compliant?
The COVID-19 national emergency provides temporary relief from federal privacy regulations. But, as stated, it is temporary relief. It is always a best practice to use a telehealth solution that is HIPAA-compliant and includes a workflow to obtain consent for a telehealth visit in accordance with your state’s requirements. "My office used Updox daily for electronic faxes. When Updox offered a video chat I jumped at the chance because it was right around the time when COVID-19 first appeared and people were using Zoom. I also loved the fact that it was HIPAA compliant. Zoom was not," said Heather Piatt, Practice Manager, Dynamic Family Medicine in Colorado Springs.
4 – Will the telehealth system work well within our practice?
How will the telehealth solution fit into your existing workflows? Scheduling, conducting and documenting the visit, and billing are key areas to think through. Are you able to take notes, document the encounter and save information related to this call to reference in case of follow-up or referral? "I tried using Zoom but it had no where near the capabilities that Updox has. It also has a place to document for the record and a place for pictures," added Heather Piatt at Dynamic Family Medicine.
5 – How much does the telehealth solution cost?
Since telehealth might be new to your practice, look for a reasonably priced solution that offers a month-to-month commitment. A provider that offers a comprehensive platform will allow you to layer on additional patient communications capabilities post-COVID to further enhance your patient experience once you see how telehealth works within your practice.
You don’t have to sacrifice security for ease of use. It’s possible to implement a HIPAA-compliant telehealth solution that’s as easy to use as making a phone call. Options exist to register, train and start using within a day, leading to a more efficient, comprehensive patient experience that is essential to guiding care and managing a business during COVID-19.
As next-generation telehealth provider, Updox understands healthcare’s immediate need for easily implemented, secure service. We offer personalized onboarding or on-demand online training. Our support staff is available seven days a week to make sure you’re comfortable with the solution, your patients can connect with you and you can deliver care that protects you and your staff. Learn more or get started today.