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Getting Started With Telehealth Video Conferencing

Rachel Maltese
Updated May 26 2021
Patient Engagement in Healthcare - A doctor sits with an older patient over a tablet
Rachel Maltese
Updated May 26 2021

Telehealth – the ability for patients and doctors to conduct appointments via video conferencing – isn’t new. For patients in rural areas or with limited mobility, it has been providing a way to conduct routine medical appointments for some time. But telehealth video conferencing can benefit a much broader array of patients and providers and the COVID-19 pandemic has been instrumental in boosting its popularity.

Telehealth options became more available as both patients and providers sought to limit potential coronavirus exposure and make sure in-person medical resources could be prioritized to those battling the illness. But, now that the pandemic is easing, telehealth isn’t going anywhere.

The convenience, time savings, and cost reductions of telehealth video conferencing remain appealing. Additionally, it is less intimidating for patients who may be reluctant or nervous when seeking medical care. Telehealth options are also ideal for brief check-ins regarding maintenance medications and many other long-term needs.

 

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What Is Telehealth?

As mentioned above, telehealth is a way to provide medical care through digital channels. This usually takes the form of video conferencing, where patients at home connect with doctors and other providers in their offices. However, sometimes telehealth connects a patient in one facility – such as a regional office, residence, or nursing home – with a provider in another facility – such as a hospital or specialist center. In addition to video conferencing, telehealth is supported by the ability to exchange emails, text chats, documents, and images in real-time or asynchronously.

 

How Does Telehealth Video Conferencing Benefit Patients?

30% of patients are already using some telehealth services some of the time. Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. Because there’s no commute, telehealth video conferencing reduces the amount of time needed and money spent to go to the doctor. For those with caregiving responsibilities in the home or long work hours, telehealth is both convenient and valuable
  2. Telehealth video conferencing often allows providers to increase appointment availability because they are less limited by physical space. This makes it easier for patients to get appointments sooner.
  3. Telehealth video conferencing also results in better outcomes for patients, especially with chronic conditions – like heart or lung diseases – that need ongoing monitoring and counseling.
  4. Patients can also save money, with the cost of telehealth visits often being less.

 

How Does Telehealth Video Conferencing Benefit Providers?

  1. Telehealth video conferencing can help your office, practice, or care facility move more efficiently. By reducing who needs to come into the office for medical care, you can reduce patient wait times and improve your practice’s reviews.
  2. Telehealth video conferencing also allows you to focus on making sure your sickest patients in person, while also making sure other patients with less urgent issues get the help they need. This helps not just your practice, but will also reduce the load on emergency rooms and urgent care in your area.
  3. Additionally, with telehealth video conferencing you may be able to expand the area you serve. Long-time patients can continue to receive care from you even if they are traveling or more out of the immediate area. And, you can effectively serve people in nearby rural or remote areas, who may have previously lacked access to care.
  4. Ultimately, all of these things add up to telehealth video conferencing offering the strong possibility of improving the financial performance of your office or practice.

 

How To Integrate Telehealth Into Your Practice In 5 Steps

So how do you get started with telehealth video conferencing? You’ll need to focus on finding the right solution and communicating to your patients about why they should be excited about telehealth. Some may also need help learning to use it.

  1. Begin Your Search For A Telehealth Solution

There are lots of telehealth solutions on the market (skip to the bottom of this article if you want to know more about one of the leaders). You’ll want to make sure you choose one that is easy to operate for both your practice and your patients without complicated equipment or downloads. You’ll also want to make sure the telehealth solution you choose can deal with multiple forms of communication. This includes live video communication, video-based patient education resources, image sharing, and text-based electronic communication.

  1. Make Sure You Have The Hardware You Need

Today, most laptops come with sound and video capabilities built in. But to effectively launch telehealth video conferencing at your facility, it’s a good idea to double-check. USB-based video cameras and microphones are low cost, easy to find, and require no special expertise to install if you find you do need to make some small upgrades to your system.

  1. Implement Your Telehealth Solution And Train Your Staff

As you get ready to start using telehealth video conferencing, make sure your entire staff is trained to use the tool. This will allow medical staff to serve patients and administrative staff to also communicate with patients and help them with any technical difficulties. Patients want to feel confident in their healthcare and to make a smooth transition to telehealth, it’s important for your practice to be comfortable with the tool you’ve selected before you bring patients into the equation.

  1. Introduce Your Patients To The Idea Of Telehealth Video Conferencing

The transition to the telehealth option for patients is best performed gradually in most cases. This prevents patients from worrying that they won’t be able to see a doctor in person if they want to. A gradual transition also gives you time to answer questions about data security compliance, telehealth care quality, and the technical aspects of attending a telehealth appointment. When you show patients you’ve thoroughly prepared for the transition to telehealth — and talked to them about the benefits — they will be more eager to participate.

  1. Begin Offering Telehealth Appointments And Expand As Demand Warrants

As you bring telehealth video appointments online at your practice, you may start with offering just a few slots and then expanding their availability as demand increases. It may take you a few months to find the best balance to meet patient needs and keep your facility at high utilization. Telehealth popularity often spreads by word of mouth. As your first patients have great telehealth experiences, make sure to offer them ways to review your services and easy ways for them to let their friends and family know.

 

Kaltura’s Telehealth Video Conferencing Solution

Kaltura has several solutions that can be used to implement telehealth at your practice or facility. Focused on video communication, Kaltura offers one-click solutions – there’s no software or hardware to install to be able to meet with your patients. Instead, just click the virtual meeting link to see your client face-to-face virtually, and in real-time. Top-notch security keeps your communication confidential and features like screen and filesharing and virtual whiteboards allow you to explain information to your patients in the way that works best for them and you. Patient rooms can also persist, so if you’re helping a patient manage a chronic or recurring condition, you can always pick up right where you left off.

Kaltura also has several other great tools that you can integrate into your telehealth experience. This includes a video portal for pre-recorded material that can serve as a patient education resource and library. Also available? Video email, which allows you to answer patient questions in a way that is clear, familiar, personal, and reassures patients they are hearing directly from their caregiver.

Patient engagement in healthcare - doctor consults via video conference call

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