With NextGen Healthcare’s recent acquisition of OTTO Telehealth, many organizations have begun thinking about adding a telehealth solution to their portfolio of patient services. Telehealth investments are expected to reach $130 billion globally by 2025, according to Modern Healthcare. This technology offers many benefits for ambulatory care providers and their patients, including:
- Making care more accessible to senior, sick, disabled, rural, and infirm people,
- Growing the number of patients seen by providers due to the relatively short appointment lengths
- Improving follow-up visit compliance and outcomes
- Creating a convenient patient experience.
Telehealth solutions bring several IT challenges that must be addressed as part of their implementation strategy. Failing to account for these areas makes it difficult for ambulatory care providers to get the most value out of this useful tool. TempDev’s NextGen consultants are here to guide you through implementing a NextGen telehealth solution with best practices, mitigation plans, and custom NextGen EHR template development solutions. Contact us to begin the conversation around your telehealth goals.
Optimizing the Video Conferencing Experience
The quality of video conferencing will make or break telehealth for a practice. If the video feed buffers constantly, audio is chopping or nonexistence, and patients struggle with connecting to their provider, it will create more issues than it solves. The first step is looking at the Internet connectivity and network in the building. The care provider will be simultaneously downloading the patient video stream while uploading their own, so the internet speed must be able to accommodate this usage. Video streaming requires a significant amount of data, so it’s also essential to avoid the rest of the network slowing down while virtual visits occur. It’s especially important to understand this because video usage can have a negative impact on performance for the rest of the practice.
Once the IT team has a robust network in place that’s prepared for telehealth visits, it’s time to create a quality video conferencing setup. Choose a well-lit space that doesn’t have a lot of ambient noise. Opt for a high-quality webcam and position it so that the feed feels like the doctor or nurse is sitting right across from the patient. The provider may or may not want headphones to help them hear their patients better. Some headsets come with excellent microphones, but if the audio quality is suffering, a separate microphone may be a better choice.
Guiding Healthcare Professionals Through Using Telehealth Software with NextGen
The healthcare professionals in the ambulatory care practice may have limited experience with video conferencing or technology in general. Sufficient training time and resources are an essential part of encouraging doctors and nurses to take advantage of telehealth and recommend it to their patients.
People learn in different ways, so offering a variety of educational resources in various formats covers all the bases. Start with group sessions or e-learning modules to cover the basics quickly and efficiently. Next, provide access to self-service materials that allow everyone to review key functionality and learn at their own pace. Then spend hands-on time is a big part of embracing telehealth solutions and elbow-to-elbow/one-on-one support to provide an opportunity for personalized training.
Some healthcare professionals may resist the change or go out of their way to avoid using telehealth solutions. Find out why there’s resistance and what is prohibiting 100 percent adoption in the practice. The telehealth software may be difficult to use, staff may not see the value in virtual visits, or more one-on-one assistance may be necessary to bring everyone up to speed. Once management understands the barriers to adoption, they can put a change management plan in place to fix these issues.
Integrating Telehealth Solutions Into NextGen EHR and EPM
Many ambulatory care practices utilize NextGen EHR & EPM, and integrated a telehealth solution is key. Healthcare professionals will resist adoption if they need to log into multiple platforms and apps daily. Each system that’s not integrated with the other makes it more challenging to have a full picture of patient health, outcomes, and the practice’s performance. If a telehealth solution is treated as stand-alone software, then healthcare professionals may need to spend significant time entering data into the NextGen EHR or risk losing this information. Patient records could end up out of date, and vital data may exist in the telehealth silo.
Several integration options are available for practices:
- Native: Since NextGen recently acquired OTTO Telehealth the telehealth solution will be soon be tightly integrated with NextGen, allowing healthcare professionals to access this technology from within a familiar platform.
- Custom development: In order to best support a smooth telehealth workflow with NextGen EHR, many clients have chosen to build a custom template development solution that makes charting and billing for telehealth seamless. TempDev has partnered with many of these organizations to develop a custom solution to improve provider adoption and satisfaction.
- API: Some platforms and telehealth solutions have an API available which streamlines the integration process. While NextGen’s API is not fully supporting this, TempDev has found creative ways to work with APIs, so these options are still available for clients. This method requires more work than having virtual visits natively integrated, but it’s straightforward with the right NextGen consultants.
Integration doesn’t have to happen immediately. Practices may want to test telehealth solutions to determine the best option for their healthcare professionals and patients, or they may want to see the value of the system first-hand before making further investments. If integration happens later in the implementation process, additional training time may be required to get the users familiar with the final form of the deployment.
Supporting Non-technical Patients
Telehealth is a relatively new concept, and many patients may not have a strong technical background or experience with video conferencing. It takes time for patients to learn the new system and understand the ways that it can be used to improve their experience with the ambulatory care practice.
An effective outreach strategy should utilize multiple channels and formats to help patients at their level of understanding. Practices can leverage the data they have available to look at the average patient demographics for the practice. This information guides effective educational methods for telehealth solutions. For example, younger demographics are more tech-savvy and may prefer to read through an online quick-start guide. Seniors, on the other hand, may need one-on-one training, physical materials mailed to their homes, and community workshops.
If they run into problems, make it clear who they need to contact to get assistance. Try to develop a relationship where the telehealth provider is responsible for technical support calls for patients as well as practices as to not waste the front desk’s time. Get feedback from everyone using the system to determine whether it’s serving its purpose or if it has a problem with user-friendliness.
The TempDev Advantage When Implementing Telehealth with NextGen
Telehealth solutions deliver significant benefits for practices and patients alike. If you’re ready to embrace this healthcare technology, TempDev is here to help. Our NextGen experts provide telehealth consulting, implementation, development, integration, and advice to help your practice realize its full value. Contact us today at 888.TEMP.DEV or click here to start this conversation.