There’s a famous quote by American astronaut John Glenn as he sat on the launchpad before his first trip into space in 1962. Strapped in his seat, waiting to be propelled into space on the back of a rocket, John said, “I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and you knew you were sitting on top of 2 million parts – all built by lowest bidder on a government contract.”
The launch was successful, but it just goes to show – no matter how meticulous the planning and preparation, it’s natural to still be nervous before launch. The same can be said about launching a telemedicine program. After spending months planning, implementing, and dedicating resources to a new telemedicine program, there are naturally going to be feelings of, “Will this work?” before launch.
Rest assured, you are not alone.
Like any successful telemedicine program, there are going to be questions and concerns before unveiling your new telemedicine program to patients. Fortunately, we have a solution. Here are several effective strategies that will help shake off the pre-launch jitters and prepare for a successful telemedicine launch.
Create internal buy-in
What’s the biggest reason telemedicine programs fail? Here’s a hint: It’s not from a lack of patients.
Recent studies revealed that the primary culprit is typically a lack of internal staff buy-in and education. One way to address this is by creating an internal marketing campaign to educate, promote, and gain buy-in from onsite staff and physicians.
Press releases, internal communications, and meetings will bring awareness to the launch of a new telemedicine program, but it’s important to address one of the biggest pieces of leading a successful internal marketing campaign - addressing the WHY.
Staff need to know why a telemedicine program will benefit the hospital, how it will address physician shortages and burnout, improve patient outcomes, and much more. Check out these six reasons to add telemedicine to your clinical practice for more insight.
Telemedicine will never replace in-person care, but it will enhance the patient experience and augment many of the daily processes and workflows in ways that will make everyone’s job easier. A successful internal marketing campaign should convey that message.
Perform mock telemedicine appointments
There’s a reason practice makes perfect; rehearsing what to do in a situation is an excellent way to prepare for the real thing. Prior to launching a telemedicine program, it’s important to host mock telemedicine appointments to help onsite staff and virtual providers understand the steps and workflows associated with performing a telemedicine appointment.
Some areas to pay particular attention to include how to properly document each telemedicine appointment, how hand-offs between onsite staff members should be handled, and even rehearsing how to operate the video conferencing technology.
Develop a chain of command for support
Let’s set the record straight: Roadblocks and unexpected challenges are inevitable. What’s important is that everyone involved understands who to communicate these challenges to and how to quickly overcome them. Developing a chain of command for support will help minimize the impact of these issues when they occur.
By ensuring each member of the team understands the support structure and who to contact if issues arise, you’ll be able to find a solution quickly. After all, leaving issues alone will only bog down the effectiveness of a program, frustrate the virtual care team, and impact the quality of patient care.
Introduce the team
Healthcare is a team sport. Between the nurses, doctors, administrative team, and the virtual team of providers, coordination of care requires effective communication and trust to result in a positive patient experience and health outcome. With so much of patient care relying on teamwork, introducing the virtual physicians with the onsite staff prior to launch will help ensure their first day working together goes without a hitch.
The sooner you introduce the team, the better. That way a relationship can develop over time and physicians can provide feedback that may improve a telemedicine program.
Post-launch telemedicine strategies
The successful launch of a telemedicine program doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan a post-launch strategy. To prepare, we’ve collected these additional resources to not only help get your program off the ground, but also ensure it’s successful for the long-term.
- 4 Goals for an Effective Telemedicine Program
- Focusing on the Long-Term: How a Telemedicine Partner Can Help You Succeed
- 6 Strategies to Promote Your Telemedicine Program
- How VirtualMed Staff Accomplished Zero Gaps in Patient Coverage
Still have questions or want to learn more? Schedule a call today to learn how an experienced telemedicine partner can help you build, implement, and launch a successful telemedicine program and enhance your patient experience. Let’s get started.