The Stoltenberg Blog

Healthcare technology insights for competitive value-based care strategy

How Healthcare IT Support Keeps Telehealth a Viable Care Option — and Why it Matters

As care delivery trends shift to the ambulatory setting, health systems must prepare for decreases in hospital patient volumes. To stay competitive, healthcare organizations need to generate alternative streams of revenue.

Initially considered a quick-fix, stop-gap solution during the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has since turned into a viable long-term care option. Aligning with consumer demands for greater convenience and accessibility in healthcare, investments in advanced telehealth and virtual care programs are viable opportunities to increase sustainable profitability.

An analysis by J.D. Power reveals that telehealth adoption and demand continues to grow, with 94% of telehealth users saying they would use the technology to receive medical services in the future. However, in another survey, only 4% of top executives consider their organizations proficient at implementing remote care. For hospitals and health systems, it’s time to reevaluate telehealth platforms and virtual care strategies to ensure longstanding, sustainable benefits to revenue and patient engagement.

The role of IT support in telehealth & virtual care platform longevity

With the rising popularity of third-party digital health services, patients have more options than ever before to seek convenient and cost-effective care. Interestingly, a recent poll suggests that 72% of telehealth users actually attend virtual care appointments coordinated through their health system or health plan, versus 17% who use direct-to-consumer telehealth services. The numbers speak to the trust patients have in their health systems for care alignment. Still, the challenge now is to ensure that patients and providers are supported to optimize telehealth services and minimize expenses. Health systems that offer 24/7x365 clinically consultative IT support for both providers and patients can help improve the telehealth onboarding and continued user experience with patient portal and virtual visit solution optimization.

  • Facilitating the user onboarding experience- Providers need to be aware of the often-overlooked nuances of conducting a virtual visit versus an in-person appointment — such as virtually observing social determinants of health or providing patient-led physical exams. There's an entirely different level of knowledge transfer required to prepare for a telehealth visit that clinically consultative IT support agents can walk through with clinicians. Specialized agents who have an adept combination of technical expertise, EHR-specific certification, virtual observation mastery, and provider communication skills can effectively onboard clinicians, especially new hires, to ensure best-practice telehealth utilization and efficiency.

    For patients who remain hesitant about telehealth, a more meaningful clinically consultative approach sets the right tone. This approach might involve taking the time to conduct a “practice visit” with non-tech-savvy patients, for instance, to work through any questions, knowledge gaps, or concerns before their first actual virtual care interaction. A clinically consultative telehealth support agent, whose service is more comprehensive than the usual password-related technical assistance, could go a long way toward reducing virtual visit no-shows and driving higher patient engagement.

  • Leading more effective telehealth platform implementations- Greater patient engagement occurs when experienced IT support analysts help smooth telehealth implementations from a technical perspective. Even from behind a computer, patients still expect empathetic and meaningful care interactions with their providers. The last thing patients or providers want in the middle of a virtual visit is a technical malfunction that diminishes feelings of patient-provider connectedness.

    An experienced IT support analyst can conduct simulated virtual care visits when implementing telehealth platforms across care groups or departments. In addition to providing feedback on clinician performance, this allows them to proactively anticipate and troubleshoot potential issues, like bandwidth, audio, or video concerns, thus minimizing glitches and frustrations for seamless care interactions.

  • IT support's impact on health systems and their providers- With provider-specific telehealth IT support, clinicians can connect telehealth tools, HIPAA-compliant transcriptions, and data to the EHR for more accurate, efficient documentation. This technical aid eases EHR burden, reduces after-hours tasks, and allows greater schedule flexibility for individual providers.

    At the health system level, increased provider telehealth support can boost the number of care interactions for consumer-driven immediate attention. This increase can also help clinicians reach patients who otherwise might not have access to in-person visits, such as those who lack transportation or live in rural locations, creating more efficient, revenue-generating care. Where appropriate, virtual visits can also help free up in-person visits for those patients who need them most, so health systems can maximize patient care plan adherence.

    All in all, health systems with a robust telehealth program can more easily expand their patient population reach while also re-engaging patients who have delayed care due to financial or convenience concerns. However, to truly optimize care delivery, telehealth platforms must be reinforced by reliable technical support. Already overburdened, internal IT help desk staff cannot be expected to absorb every telehealth inquiry, without risking platform access or usage delays as tickets inevitably pile up. A better option is to pursue a trusted resource partner for designated telehealth support, advancing health system virtual care goals while alleviating internal team burden.

Healthcare IT support: crucial to telehealth utilization's long-term success

In the time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, virtual care technology has emerged as an indispensable component of health systems' care delivery models. However, health systems must invest strategically in growth-generating telehealth resources and infrastructure. With knowledgeable IT support, hospitals and health systems can create a superior telehealth and virtual care experience for providers and patients alike. In turn, healthcare organizations cultivate competitive advantage through an alternate, less burdensome revenue stream, while garnering higher provider and patient satisfaction and better patient care adherence.

Stay tuned for additional virtual care strategy insights via the Stoltenberg blog.

Maximize Your Telehealth Platform ROI

Maximize Your Telehealth Platform ROI

Get the most from your virtual care platform through dependable end-user IT support–from onboarding to ongoing troubleshooting and one-on-one telehealth patient and provider walkthroughs.