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Telemedicine... easier said than done.

We have been there before and the time spent from blocking off the schedule for the office visit (opportunity cost), to driving in traffic, an awkward check in, time spent in the lobby, then the waiting room... hallelujah! I am talking with the doctor about my issue and half a day has been sucked away for a 15 minute conversation. This is not the '80's folks and we can be far more efficient with our time. We all know that healthcare is far behind in the technology game. It is way to fragmented. Most clinics use at least THREE different platforms to keep up with all of services. Many of those platforms do not communicate which leads to redundancies and wasted costs.

On the medical side, the progressive practices say "Telemedicine is the future! Everyone should have televisits!" ... and listen, I was one first to jump on this bandwagon. I see the potential of how helpful virtual consultations can be. In today's world, time is everything and telemedicine eliminates wasted time in the patient's (and provider's) day. It is the platform of the future but a MAJOR culture shock. To be realistic, nothing is quick in the medical field due to insurances for the most part as they set the pace of ALL of the steps that need to be taken to have a particular service taken place.

So we know that televisits are the future but how do we overcome our current obstacles?

Temper your expectations: Don't assume that just because your practice is offering telemedicine that you will be flooded with requests. Your baby boomers are not that accepting to televisits, however the Xenials and Millenials are accepting of it.

Make sure you have your support system: Televisits gives your practice quite a bit of leverage in patient access. However, you need to make sure that you can support your patients in their care. One example is delivering controlled substance prescriptions to patients. In the field of sleep medicine, controlled substances are prescribed for treatment. What good does a televisit do if your patient needs to come pick up a triplicate from your office? Fortunately, e-Prescribed Controlled Substances (EPCS) are becoming more popular within EMR systems, however, they are not the easiest to set up or use. Keep in mind that not all pharmacies accept EPCS either. Having a reputable medical equipment company and diagnostic sleep lab help tremendously in keeping your patient on the path of successful therapy.

Billing: While many places and states are being reimbursed for televisits, each state has their own guidelines on that need to be studied. Keep in mind that Medicare has it's own set up of rules that must be followed to be reimbursed. You can learn more about your states reimbursement at American Telemedicine Association or Chiron Health has some great info as well.

While these are a couple tips to get a better insight to setting up telemedicine in your practice, the hardest part of implementing telemedicine is sticking to it. Train your staff, integrate it into all of your work flow, and stay persistent. While many articles are stating that telemedicine is blowing up (which is true in the larger enterprise systems), the small to midsize practices are struggling to make it large part of their practice.

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