VirtualMed Staff and Modern Healthcare partnered to host a webinar titled Best Practices for Creating a Successful Telepsychiatry Program. In it, a panel of telemedicine and telepsychiatry subject matter experts and thought leaders from VirtualMed Staff and Wellstar Health System shared compelling stories and best practices for creating a successful telepsychiatry program.
Thank you to everyone who attended, engaged, and provided our panelists with great questions and feedback throughout the presentation. For those who were unable to attend, there is a recording of the webinar available here.
We want to share 3 of the biggest takeaways from the webinar in the hopes that they can prepare your hospital or healthcare facility for building a successful telepsychiatry program.
1. Overcommunicate when transitioning from in-person care to a virtual setting
One aspect of patient care that is lost in a virtual setting is incidental communication between the onsite staff and the telemedicine physician. Since the care team doesn’t have the opportunity to discuss patient information in person, it’s vital to find opportunities and avenues to convey patient information and coordinate care.
One best practice posed by Jon White, VP of Clinical Operations at VirtualMed Staff, was to simply have a quick, 30 second phone call to discuss relevant patient information and relay notes. Additionally, secure texting and electronic health records allow for open communication of patient care when onsite conversations are not available.
Overcommunication is key when transitioning from in-person care to a virtual setting to compensate for those lost, in-person touchpoints. This includes everything from how patient information is communicated from one care provider to another, workflows, and standards for treating patients via telemedicine. “The more your team communicates, the more successful your telepsychiatry program will be in the long-term.”
2. Credentialing doesn’t have to be the roadblock it once was
The credentialing process can be a cumbersome and time-consuming process, taking anywhere from 30 to 90 days, or up to 150 days. However, Dominique Roberson, Director of Credentialing at VirtualMed Staff, believes credentialing doesn’t have to be the roadblock it once was.
“The coronavirus pandemic changed the credentialing process,” says Dominique. “One of the biggest changes was the incorporation of electronic tools for a faster and more successful credentialing process.”
Rather than waiting to fax forms back and forth between the physicians and the credentialing team, leveraging electronic tools can streamline the entire process. The ability to instantly return time-sensitive documents at the click of a button can significantly reduce the time it takes to get physicians credentialed and in front of patients.
Additionally, Dominique spoke to the benefit of credentialing by-proxy to reduce the credentialing timeline and streamline the entire process. Not only does credentialing by-proxy reduce the administrative overhead, but it allows hospitals to start delivering telepsychiatry services faster.
3. Look for a true partnership that can grow and scale with you
A successful telepsychiatry program isn’t one that you implement and then leave alone; it requires ongoing management and a strong focus on continuous improvement. Amy Otto, VirtualMed Staff’s Director of Customer Experience, and Sally Eckford, AVP Virtual Health at Wellstar, both attested to the benefit of looking for a true telemedicine partnership to help your telepsychiatry grow and scale.
“Because of COVID-19, our Telepsychiatry patient volumes skyrocketed,” says Sally. “For the first time ever we’re seeing more inpatient telepsychiatry visits than Telestroke and Teleneurology.” Sally believes that one of the reasons Wellstar was able to quickly scale and grow its programs in the face of increased patient volumes was relying on the experience and expertise of a true telemedicine partner.
“Telepsychiatry programs are always going to mature and grow,” remarks Amy. “Having a true telemedicine partner there to support and help you navigate the challenges that come from this growth is vital.” For Amy, everything from leveraging data to anticipating future trends to utilizing dedicated physician teams are some of the key benefits to partnering with an experienced telemedicine partner.
These are just 3 of the biggest takeaways from VirtualMed Staff and Modern Healthcare’s webinar, Best Practices for Creating a Successful Telepsychiatry Program. To view the entire webinar and learn even more best practices, check out the link below. If you have additional questions or feedback, schedule a call with a virtual care specialist and they’ll be more than happy to assist you.