Telehealth has grown rapidly across the nation in recent months, opening up new options for behavioral health providers and clients. In the scramble to launch remote services, however, many best practices may be overlooked. If you’re a behavioral health provider that is implementing or considering a move to telehealth, here are some best practices to follow.
1. Set a goal for your telehealth program.
Think about how you want telehealth to benefit your practice and clients. Set specific goals and measurements of success. Your goals may involve revenue, client satisfaction or retention, reducing cancellations, or gaining new clients.
2. Keep all team members involved in your telehealth solution.
All behavioral health staff should understand the telehealth workflow and know how to use the software. If possible, launch a pilot program to help train clinicians and staff on the telehealth solution. This can help you identify any possible gaps in the workflow so they can be corrected before clients begin to use telehealth.
3. Partner with the appropriate vendor.
Your telehealth vendor should have experience with behavioral health and related privacy protections. Their solution should offer billing, scheduling, and e-prescribing options that can integrate with your existing EHR. Many practices have found success with less expensive, off-the-shelf software. Whatever solution you choose, however, it still must support HIPAA rules, and any other privacy or data protection concerns.
4. Familiarize yourself with federal and state requirements.
Consult state and federal laws before launching any remote behavioral health services. Laws may address issues such as billing, e-prescribing, and informed consent. For example, while some state programs have parity between telehealth and in-person services, other states have different rules for telehealth reimbursement. Seek the advice of an experienced attorney to ensure your telehealth services meet all state and federal requirements.
5. Consider pre-screening clients before they use telehealth.
While telehealth offers enormous benefits for both providers and clients, it may not always be the best solution for every client. To ensure the success of your telehealth program, consider evaluating clients before their first telehealth visit to determine whether they would be better served with an in-person appointment.
6. Market your telehealth services to your clients and community.
Some behavioral health or addiction treatment clients may be hesitant to use telehealth, while others may embrace it enthusiastically. In either case, your clients should know that remote visits are an option. Marketing possibilities include:
- Update your website with telehealth information
- Email announcements
- Post signs in the office
- Send messages through patient portals
- Send brochures or other announcement to clients by mail
7. Maintain good communication with clients.
As a behavioral health provider, it is important to understand how to convey empathy on-screen. This includes maintaining a professional appearance during every telehealth visit with a client. The physical space should also be secure, have good lighting, and be free of clutter and other distractions.
Your behavioral health practice also must have, test, and maintain all the appropriate equipment, such as speakers and cameras, to minimize potential disruptions. The clinician should also prepare appropriately by reviewing the client’s history and chart before the start of the telehealth visit.
BestNotes EHR serves many behavioral health organizations that leverage cost-effective telehealth solutions, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting. To find out more about how we support telehealth programs, contact us today.