Look Before You Leap: 5 Keys to Implementing Telehealth Services Into Your Practice
You know the old saying, “Look before you leap?” You look so that you know just what you’re jumping into. You don’t want any surprise landings.
If you’re thinking about adding telehealth services to your practice, you’re not alone. Telehealth services are among the hottest, fastest growing offerings out there.
Clients love it because it’s convenient, affordable and fits their busy lifestyles.
Insurance companies love it because it is proven to be clinically and financially sound. More important, telehealth fills the gap that exists in underserved areas.
Providers love it for the flexibility, cost-effectiveness and greater client access to services.
Telehealth services are clearly a WIN-WIN-WIN when managed well. So you should just jump in…right? Not so fast.
Before you leap, you need to think about what adding telehealth will mean for your practice. Adding any service changes the dynamics of your practice. How can you add this service so that is both clinically-effective, efficient and cost-effective?
Practice, Practice, Practice
Before you hang out your online shingle, make sure you have the tools you need and how to integrate them. Practice using your equipment until you’re comfortable with it.
Know Your Workflow
Think about how you will integrate appointments, documents, your notes, payments, messaging and the million other steps that go into a complete online client contact.
The process you use for face-to-face clients may differ significantly. You don’t want to try to adapt your online flow on-the-fly. The key is organization.
Look for a telehealth platform that is designed for the needs of your practice. Platforms are not created equal and “free” may not really be free if you have to purchase other programs to meet your practice needs. A full-featured platform like TheraPlatform offers a robust basic package as well as the add-ons that a larger practice might need.
Integrate Telehealth Over Time
It can be tempting to go all-in. No matter how much training you’ve had, you are still learning. You need time to get comfortable with the online format and with using your tools.
Integrate online therapy slowly. Offer periodic online sessions to a few of your established clients. Offer an online session if a client is traveling for business or if your availability for a face-to-face is limited. As you gain confidence, you can expand your online availability if you choose.
Get Feedback from Your Clients
There is no app or program that can give you the kind of information that a client’s feedback can give you. Ask your clients about their experiences with the process. Ask how their online experience compared with their face-to-face sessions. This information will help you to enhance the online experience for your clients.
If you’ve been in practice for a while, you probably have a fairly set schedule. Adding online therapy means either adding additional appointment times or integrating online appointments into your regular schedule. An easy way to add appointment space is to offer online services in those appointment slots that routinely go unfilled.
One of the appeals of online therapy is flexibility – for both the therapist and the client. You may prefer to designate a set block of time that is for online therapy only. Or you may want to work from another location on certain days. A certain time (e.g., mid-day, Saturday mornings) may be in huge demand. You might opt to designate Saturday mornings for online availability.
The important thing is to structure your schedule so that it works for you, doesn’t disrupt the flow of your in-person practice and provides availability for your clients.
Adding online services inevitably changes the dynamic of your practice. Taking time to integrate slowly and mindfully will pay off in a thriving and successful practice.
So, think it through, look and then leap!