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Best Practices: Adaptable Telehealth Workflows

Monday, July 20, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Written by: Certintell Telehealth


Whether health care teams are providing telehealth services site-to-site to connect with patients, or providing virtual visits while patients are in the comfort of their home, a clinician should have a workflow for any situation. Adapting workflows depending on the circumstance will help provide a seamless experience to the patient and focus on what really matters: improved health outcomes.


Adjust Schedules Accordingly

Physicians dealing with a Medicare population have seen rapid changes in policy during the pandemic, allowing increased flexibility in practice. Some of these policy changes include reimagining care outside of the clinic. As communities begin to reopen, CMS waivers now enable many patients to receive care in their homes, whether they are a rural patient or not. When mapping out schedules, blocking time for telehealth visits and in-person visits separately can help providers maintain a clear, less-stressful schedule.


CMS is also now paying for more than 80 additional services to be furnished via telehealth. Keep in mind many of these services can only be furnished by physicians qualified to provide telehealth services. Letting patients, especially the most vulnerable, know their options during this time will help decrease any confusion and maintain their safety.1


Gather Patient Data to Determine Where Your Focus Should Be

Outside of a pandemic, launching a telehealth program should have a focus in mind, especially with available funding often limited. Determine what particular uses for which you want to implement telehealth. Will it be behavioral health integration services delivered via telehealth to enhance mental health services currently being offered at the clinic? Will you use telehealth to focus on accelerating value-based care workflows? For example, remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a telehealth modality and is highly beneficial among patients with chronic conditions, and now, coronavirus.2 RPM equipment can be directly shipped to the patient for ongoing support and treatment. Chronic Care Management is also a telehealth service that focuses on behavior change. The two services can be billed in the same month, because they are recognized as complimentary. Looking at patient data can help you understand where to target your focus to adopt programs such as these. Additionally, for those looking to reduce costs while maintaining, or even improving quality, telehealth could be the answer.



 Consider this claims-based study by McKinsey & Company that found that:

◆ 20 percent of all emergency room visits could be potentially avoided with telehealth

◆ 24 percent of office visits could be delivered virtually

◆ 35 percent of home health attendant services could be conducted via telehealth

◆ All these add could add up to $250 billion in health care dollars that could be virtualized 3


Comparing against your own claims data, are there certain patients who could benefit from more intensive care and reduce their amount of costly visits? While searching for these answers you can also regularly take down patient feedback to understand areas of improvement.


Even before the pandemic, researchers at J.D. Power found that 84 percent of patients were able to completely resolve their medical concerns via telehealth and only spent 44 minutes on average during these visits. The study also found that patients using telehealth had some of the highest rates of satisfaction among any industries studied, signaling that value-based care is wanted on both ends of the spectrum. 4


Gearing your care teams toward a specific focus will help you stay on track and demonstrate measurable outcomes, which can also help you garner additional funding in the future.


Consider How Roles Will Shift

Discuss with your team how different members will adapt to a new workflow depending on the circumstance. Which members of your team will fill which roles depending on if the consultation is virtual or in-person? ARNPs, for example, can be a strong asset to the physician in assessing the patient and providing clinical support during telehealth visits. Consult all members of the team and be open to input. Perhaps you will find that it would be easier to partner with a third-party who can help seamlessly deliver telehealth visits and assume responsibility for making sure they work.


Translate Bedside Manners

During the visit, consider how you will provide the same comfort to the patient as you would in person. This can include:

● Looking directly into the camera

● Actively listening to the patient by providing cues and affirmations that you are engaged (especially if simultaneously taking notes)

● Limiting distractions, such as background images and noise. When dealing with sensitive topics, consider moving the camera around the room so the patient knows their privacy is being protected as well.

● Set an agenda for the visit, so the patient’s time with you is maximized and all concerns are addressed.


To ensure the visit goes smoothly, advise the patient on how the telehealth visit will work beforehand and ask if they have any questions before the visit to ensure they know how to operate the technology.


Discuss with your team members how you will handle any issues that may arise

 Do you have a backup plan in place if technology fails? For example, if internet connection becomes poor on either end, your team may need to have a system in place for conducting an audio-only visit via telephone. If one member is out on leave, are all the equivalent staff members trained to do their role (e.g EHR access)?


After taking in all these considerations, you should be equipped to handle your next telehealth visit with ease, wherever it may be. Understanding the intricacies of patients’ situations and mandatory regulations around telehealth will ensure a smooth and consistent workflow.


JoinCareTeam™ is a telehealth platform that integrates easily with health center processes to allow adaptable workflows for site-to-site or in-home virtual care. Powered by Certintell® — a management services organization based in Des Moines, IA — the JoinCareTeam telehealth portal connects health providers to patients, allowing access to health care from any device, anywhere! Patients will be connected to their care team to create a plan focused on improving the health, happiness and livelihood of the patient. Learn more about delivering care management services via telehealth at Certintell.com and request the free telehealth workflow guide!



  1. Fact sheet Additional Background:Sweeping Regulatory Changes to Help U.S. Healthcare System Address COVID-19 Patient Surge https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/additional-backgroundsweeping-regulatory-changes-help-us-healthcare-system-address-covid-19-patient
  2.  About Telehealth https://www.cchpca.org/about/about-telehealth
  3. “Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality?” Oleg Bestsennyy, Greg Gilbert, McKinsey & Company, 29 May 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/telehealth-a-quarter-trillion-dollar-post-covid-19-reality?_lrsc=a92397a2-f826-4e32-863b-4f1f467784d1
  4. “2019 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study.” J.D. Power, 28 Oct. 2019, www.jdpower.com/business/press-releases/2019-us-telehealth-satisfaction-study






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