A 5-Point Plan to adapt your medical office for telehealth. BadgePlus helps make the move to telemedicine easy and inexpensive.
You’re reading this page because you know that the vast majority of follow-up ambulatory services you provide could be dispensed through telehealth (see also: telemedicine).
You are not alone. Thousands of medical offices all over the country did not need a significant health crisis to realize that converting their health care office to accommodate telehealth is one of the most important strategic moves the industry can make. And we interviewed several of our customers for essential pointers.
All medical offices we interviewed say that once you start the conversion, you will likely incorporate a permanent capacity to handle calls from patients who can’t (or shouldn’t) come to the office. Take for example the spread of a simple flu virus and the threat to immunocompromised patients (e.g., elderly, cancer patients). The fact is, patient’s lives can be saved through telehealth.
Long before Covid-19 became a global catastrophe that changed just about every aspect of life, the move to telehealth/telemedicine was already underway. Here in the U.S., insurance providers long-since expressed a desire to compel providers to offer telehealth for follow-up visits. Now that many offices MUST undertake the change, insurance companies may make it permanent. Now that the pressure is on to convert for telehealth consultations, this article is offered as a means to speed your research.
Your Five Point Plan for Telehealth
You really can’t skip over planning. This stage encourages comprehension by all stakeholders in your office for full adoption. We have a five-point plan to help you out with adding or augmenting your telehealth service:
POINT 1: A secure broadband internet connection.
There are several considerations when acquiring broadband service for your office. Most modern medical offices already have some form of broadband internet connection. It is vital to pay very close attention to the speed of the internet connection that is provided. Speed will determine both the audio/video quality. Most basic business broadband connection speeds are clocked at 50-100 Mbps (trans: 50-100 megabits per second). Whether this speed is adequate depends upon how many connections there are to the service.
Ideally, as you purchase your bandwidth service, make sure that your provider can provide you with higher connection speeds without changing (and charging) for equipment upgrades. We also recommend that you stick with well-known broadband services that have a good record for customer service and support. It is not uncommon for the initial startup to be a little bumpy at times. Having a good service partner will definitely make things go a lot smoother.
POINT 2: Your video conferencing platform service.
There are a variety of different video systems available, and the type you choose depends on the type of telemedicine service you decide to establish. However, the most common solution includes (1) a good laptop, (2) a decent streaming camera, and (3) a teleconference service like Zoom, RingCentral, Webex, or GoToMeeting. The key is finding a service that works well for your patients. Many patients are familiar with the basic teleconference service—a direct to consumer app where they use their home computer, laptop, or an app-enabled pad or smartphone to communicate with friends and family. For faster adoption and easier startup, you may consider adopting the same type of system.
POINT 3: Reliable and qualified technical support.
A ready resource will help ensure stable, secure internet connectivity and computer readiness. More importantly, they need to be available to help with technical and hardware problems, which may occur during a clinic day to prevent interruptions in patient care. If no one in your office is tech-savvy enough, we recommend that you evaluate one or two on-call type services. Some services promise to make in-office visits. Some support services are virtual (they access your computer remotely) depending on resources.
POINT 4: Office support and office protocols that support telehealth.
Most office managers we interviewed for this article say that it is vitally important to have a procedure to handle technical issues and a clear understanding of local/state requirements for telemedicine. In the area of office support, you need a scheduling procedure that supports a short ‘pre-call’ to patients to ensure that they can interact with providers. You also need a simple method for patients to follow when using your teleconferencing system.
One thing you do not want: the doctor spending 5-10 minutes trying to help the patient find mute button. Moreover, not all patients who say they can handle teleconferencing can. That means you need a procedure to move a patient back to a traditional office visits. It is also important to research state licensing requirements. In some states, you may need to record and save some or all of your patient interactions. That means you’ll also need a way to keep the videos for record-keeping. Some of the video conferencing solutions mentioned above come with bundled services designed for telemedicine: push-button recording and date-stamped archives.
POINT 5: Location, location, location.
When you begin to use teleconferencing regularly, the first thing you realize is that location really matters. When we meet people in person, we have the benefit of a 360-degree view of the whole environment. We can also filter the contextual experience of entering a doctor’s office, interacting with other people, and engaging the doctor in conversation. Telemedicine is literally a single-perspective engagement. The “setup” and ease of use for the office is important, but so is the point-of-view of the patient. THREE LOCATION considerations:
Location 1: somewhere that is not subject to outside noises or people who may accidentally enter the “scene,”
Location 2: a set place where everything is ready (e.g., lighting, placement, wifi strength), and
Location 3: the best background possible. By this, we mean physically – literally within view of the camera.
The video camera strips everything down to one point of view – YOU and whatever else is lying around. It suits reason that we ought to be concerned, at the least we ought to be aware, of what the patient sees besides the person who is offering medical advice.
FOUR Common Background Errors in Telehealth
After nearly 20 years in the photo backdrop business, we have a few ideas about best-practices for teleconferencing. We conducted one-on-one interviews with our medical offices and found that the background is especially important when the patient’s health is the subject. And this is where we can offer our direct assistance. We simulated the FOUR common background errors that most of the interviewed offices agreed, once they realized they made them, they corrected immediately with a BadgePlus photo backdrop:
ALL BACKGROUND PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED with a photo backdrop from BadgePlus
You’ve heard the expression: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” With a professional-looking backdrop, you give your patients a clear picture that you’re ready to help and that they have your full attention.
Imagine if this were a photograph that you were handing your patient. You’d want one that builds confidence in your medical experience and professionalism.
Personal branding coaches advise all professionals to think of ways to “build up” the public brand. There’s another way to put it: put your best foot forward! Step out with a clear and positive look, and your patients will be more interested in everything you have to say.
Every teleconference interaction is a show that features every positive thing that a health care office ought That’s a picture that has to be worth at least two thousand words, don’t you think?
You don’t have to build a television studio to make this work. Advances in technology and broadband services makes ‘broadcasting’ simple to implement and cost-effective for any office.
One photo backdrop and a little planning made a world of difference for our patients.Office Manager
Los Angeles-Area Physician’s office
For our part, we can help with a cost-effective photo backdrop solution that’s as easy to use as booting up your laptop:
- Many offices opt for our retractable photo backdrops. For a compact, wall-mounted backdrop, 36″x48″ will work very well.
- For greater convenience, consider a motorized retractable backdrop (48″x 84″) that mounts on the ceiling or wall and is activated by remote control.
- BadgePlus also has all the mounting hardware and accessories that you need for installation.
BadgePlus photo backdrops come with a 1-year guarantee. The backdrop fabric is the highest quality seamless laminate. The casing is sturdy aluminum with powder-coated finish.
The proof is in what your patients see…
Start your conversion now…
If you have questions or need help on the use or installation of your photo backdrop, we’re just an email (or phone call) away.