The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that the coronavirus, COVID-19, will likely become a pandemic. They state that anyone in close contact with others with COVID-19, including healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends using telehealth to prevent patients who can be cared for at home from going to healthcare facilities, link. They also recommend encouraging sick healthcare providers to stay at home, and they have made available infection control procedures for healthcare providers.
When a patient goes to a healthcare facility they are likely to encounter other people who are ill and seeking treatment. The best solution to the coronavirus is to limit the opportunities for it to spread. Telehealth is a great option to treat those who do not NEED to come to a facility for treatment, but who can receive adequate care at home.
However, it is important that healthcare providers do not jump into providing virtual services without preparing for it. There are several things to consider before offering telehealth services and allowing clinicians to work remotely.
Clients can either love the telehealth experience or find it frustrating. The initial launch of a new service is an organization’s first impression on their community. For clients to have a good impression of telehealth services the workflow and technology must be selected and configured in a way that suits them. Clients should be prepared for virtual meetings, and clinicians should be trained on the clinical skills of communicating and providing services via electronic media. Working with a consultant can help ensure that you set up your telehealth services in a way that clients will love.
Lack of preparation with telehealth can become a great cost to an organization, a risk to their clients’ privacy, inadequate care being provided, and embarrassment. When clinicians work remotely there should be policies regarding the clinician’s home office environment. Technology can allow the clinician to remotely access records securely. The technology should be supervised by the administration. If an organization allows clinicians to use their own devices a BYOD policy should be in place. Before using any technology to communicate with clients, there should be a thorough risk analysis of using that technology, and a risk management plan for reducing the identified risks should be created.
Clinicians also need to ensure that they do not practice outside their competence. Most graduate and clinical training programs do not train clinicians on telehealth (learn what one university does to make this change!). At the same time, there is a great opportunity to increase access to clients, customer satisfaction, and the convenience of receiving and providing healthcare services from home. If your organization needs training, we can meet those needs. We are available to assist you in the process of developing your telehealth program and allowing clinicians to work confidently and securely from any private and secure location.