The rapid global spread of COVID-19 halted many aspects of people's lives. But one thing that can’t be put on hold is people's health and preexisting conditions. People still need general checkups and help for various ailments that are entirely independent of COVID-19. To ensure their safety, many people needed to find ways to meet their healthcare needs without compromising social distancing regulations. For many clinics, that meant offering telehealth calls.
Telehealth means using technology to communicate about one’s health, such as phone calls and online questionnaires, to offer a preliminary diagnosis or prescription. The sudden demand for telehealth left many private practices and clinics unsure of how to manage the influx in demand while maintaining a high standard of service for their business's reputation and patients' health. Shifting to something new without preparation opens healthcare professionals up to errors that can jeopardize their patients' well-being and overall experience. Luckily, the following common mistakes are easily avoidable:
1. Audio Only, No Video
One of the biggest mistakes in telehealth is treating calls as if they were telephone chats with friends or acquaintances. The conversation must happen using both audio and video from the patient and the healthcare provider's sides.
Including video in telehealth calls can increase the patient's comfort, allowing them to open up more about their symptoms and ask as many questions as they need. Video also helps the doctor understand the patient's body language better and helps them relax if they are nervous.
2. Using a Videoconferencing System Made for Average Consumers
As more people started using videoconferencing software during the pandemic for social and business-related reasons, many found privacy bugs that allow for easy hacking and exploitation. While this might not be the biggest concern when it comes to casual chats with friends and family, it's a violation of multiple patient privacy laws if confidential medical information leaked or got accessed by an unauthorized third-party.
You should avoid using apps like Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom for telehealth calls. Ensure you and your patient strictly use a secure videoconferencing system that will enable you to follow HIPAA privacy laws and regulations.
3. Not Using Headphones
Using high-quality headphones with a built-in microphone is excellent in canceling out background noise on both ends. It ensures you and your patient can hear each other so you can provide them with the best care.
4. Writing Notes on Paper
While writing notes on paper to make things easier during a video call might seem like a harmless thing to do, there are many risks to doing so instead of using your clinic's EMR system. First, a piece of paper or notebook is easy to lose or damage beyond legibility. Not to mention, writing notes during a conversation might result in unclear handwriting, resulting in a misdiagnosis or writing the wrong prescription.
Using your EMR software ensures that the notes from the telehealth appointment stay organized and legible. Storing the notes on your system, which should be in a safe and secure location, and regularly backing them up ensures their safety and integrity.
5. Not Utilizing Your EMR to Its Full Potential
Using advanced EMR software will allow on-call doctors to see more patients and review call footage and notes. It saves them time, allowing them to see more patients through telehealth calls or in-person as needed. Additionally, with EMR, you're sending data directly from one system to another, eliminating the room for error or privacy breach.
EMR from a trusted provider, such as NextGen, frees your staff from organizing patient calls and data, allowing them to work on other tasks. It also lets your patients book their telehealth calls online, choosing the time slot that suits them the most without having to book a time through a staff member. Since the telehealth trend doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon, invest in NextGen services for telehealth before the adverse effects of subpar telehealth appointments catch up with your clinic.
Technology is the Way Forward
From telehealth calls and task automation, technology is the future for all clinics and private practices. Switching from manual "old-school" work to new software and communication methods might feel daunting and unachievable at first. However, proper training is all the investment you need to start reaping the benefits from telehealth. Growth is about delivering what your clients want, and many patients want consultations from the comfort of their own home. Make sure your clinic is delivering on the demand for telehealth services.