When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, healthcare organizations needed to respond in ways to help keep people safe during their medical appointments—with telehealth serving as a key element of the response.
Patients embraced this option, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report from December 2021 revealed a “63-fold increase” in telehealth usage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the percentage of Medicare Advantage plans offering telehealth benefits jumped from 49 percent during the first year of the pandemic to 98 percent in 2022.
The benefits of virtual visits are significant as they limit exposure to COVID and allow patients to receive health care services from wherever they are. This lowers the amount of time spent traveling and/or off from work while often shortening wait times for appointments. Also, patients can have easier access to specialists because they can now be geographically located in a different place.
From a healthcare organization’s standpoint, this increase in remote telehealth visits, the Michigan State Medical Society notes, increased the urgency to ensure that information from telehealth visits was integrated into a single source solution: the patient’s EHR. Telehealth visits are set up to mimic what patients are used to with the process including a scheduling feature and a private online room while having bonus benefits.
As bonuses, the healthcare provider can share screens while discussing test results. Then, the physician can forward a visit summary to the patient along with referrals and orders for diagnostic tests. Because of these added features, patients often agree that this offers a better experience.
Another feature that maximizes interoperability is remote patient monitoring (RPM).
How RPM Works
RPM allows medical providers to monitor health conditions of patients from the comforts of their own homes; health conditions can include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, asthma, and many more. This facilitates the ability of healthcare providers to manage both acute and chronic conditions while reducing the amount of travel a patient needs to undertake and lowering infection risk.
As the monitoring devices collect clinical information about a patient, it can be integrated into the EHR system. In fact, for Medicare reimbursement, interoperability between the RPM devices and a system (either one designed to collect telehealth data or an EHR system) is required.
Benefits of Single-Source Systems
Michigan State Medical Society states that telehealth interoperability with EHR systems is crucial for delivering high-quality care.
Combining RPM data into a single-source EHR system comes with multiple benefits, allowing healthcare providers to receive real-time information in one place. An EHR system that’s robust enough allows physicians and specialists to also record visits and store the video files with available information able to boost patient engagement in their own health outcomes.
As HealthcareITNews.com notes, telehealth is truly successful when it mimics a visit to a healthcare facility in which the healthcare provider can access all of the patient’s clinical data in one place. The physician can look at stored data and use that information to make diagnoses, evaluate the patient’s condition over time, and make the best treatment decisions. This can also allow a physician to make recommendations for preventative care as well as long-term care.
If the telehealth information was not integrated into the EHR, then the physician would probably need to go through two processes, inputting the same data twice. This causes the medical professional to spend more time on administrative tasks and less on patient care. Plus, if data is entered twice, there’s automatically more potential for medical error.
HealthcareITNews.com sums up integration by saying: “Telehealth-EHR integration creates a more fluid, integrated experience for physicians by allowing them to conduct the remote visit and access patient records in parallel, saving them time and increasing usability.”
Benefits of EHR Consulting
The benefits of EHR-telehealth integration and interoperability are significant, which is why it’s important to have the best EHR system for your needs—a robust system that’s properly integrated to be efficient and cost effective. To make that happen, it isn’t unusual to need to supplement your in-house IT team with EMR implementation experts.
Experienced consultants can help healthcare facilities to choose the best EHR system. They can speak to key stakeholders and whittle down possibilities to a small list, sharing benefits of each. This saves healthcare organizations time and energy that they can put towards caring for patients.
EHR consulting professionals can then implement the system, customizing them to meet the organization’s unique needs and goals. Experts in our network can also clean and migrate data, train end users in targeted, role-based ways, create process documentation, provide go-live and post-live support, and more.
Each of these steps can be performed by EMR implementation experts that maximize your healthcare organization’s ability to leverage telehealth for the best results. Plus, there are project management consultants that can oversee both technical and financial aspects of the implementation, freeing up your in-house team for other important priorities.
Contact HealthTECH Resources Today
Here at HealthRECH Resources, we are an EMR consulting company that can help to fill in staffing gaps to optimize the process. We pride ourselves in being the fastest, most knowledgeable, and reliable of today’s healthcare IT staff augmentation agencies. Our professionals are available as consultants, contract to hire professionals, and permanent placement.
If you’re ready to benefit from today’s robust, customizable EHR technologies, please contact us online or call (602) 903-7961. Our boutique-style agency has provided healthcare IT staff supplementation services for more than 20 years, and we’re here to help you. If you need help with analyzing your IT team’s current skill sets, specialties, and bandwidth, our experienced leadership team would be happy to do so. Then, we can provide you with EHR consulting professionals from our deep and wide network to precisely fill in your staffing gaps for a successful implementation.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.