A growing number of companies in various industries now employ remote workers, reducing workplace expenses, expanding opportunities, and even increasing productivity. Behavioral health is no exception to this movement, with the rise of telehealth allowing therapists and other clinicians to see patients remotely.
The growing popularity of telehealth among both patients and providers makes it worthwhile, and even essential, for behavioral health and addiction treatment organizations to adopt.
Making Remote Behavioral Health and Addiction Treatment Telehealth Work
Telehealth is more than just setting up a Skype account. Billing requirements, HIPAA rules, and other aspects of healthcare can make telehealth more complicated than other remote industries.
Here are some steps to help you get started with telehealth in behavioral health and addiction treatment organizations.
1. Hire the right people.
Whether your remote workers are clinicians or administrative staff, it’s important to find individuals best suited for telehealth. “We like to see a history of working autonomously or indications that the applicant is a self-starter,” says Jon Winther, Chief Marketing Officer at BestNotes.
The right qualities may not be immediately obvious, so behavioral health organizations might want to spend more time on candidates when hiring remote workers. Even after hiring, consider a probation period of 3-9 months to “test drive” the relationship. This will not only help you get familiar with each other, but can encourage trust between management, staff, and patients, which is vital element for remote work, including telehealth.
2. Use collaborative tools.
Communication is a major concern among organizations new to telehealth and remote work. Fortunately, numerous free or low-cost solutions can help clinicians, managers, and support staff stay in touch and on-task.
Besides email, other communication solutions include Google Chat and Zoom. Google’s suite of applications, such as Docs and Sheets, allow multiple users to edit or contribute to documents. Trello, Asana, and Slack can help with task management. There are also many different telehealth software and practice management solutions available for behavioral health and addiction treatment organizations.
3. Provide thorough training.
Even providers who support telehealth recognize that it requires different skills than in-person patient interactions. Not only do clinicians need to be trained in the telehealth software, but should also develop appropriate skills. These include:
Understanding when virtual care is appropriate and when in-person care is required
Communicating effectively with virtual patients
Accurately evaluating signs and symptoms for virtual patients
Applying best practices to virtual care.
In 2014, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) announced an accreditation program for eligible telemedicine providers. Starting in 2017, this telehealth accreditation program has been managed through a partnership with ClearHealth Quality Institute.
Telehealth and other health software providers usually offer training with the purchase of their solutions. For example, the entire implementation process at BestNotes is done with videoconferencing. Staff training is also performed over videoconference, even for in-office employees. When considering and purchasing telehealth solutions, make sure to ask vendors about any training they offer.
Support Your Telehealth Practice With Specialized EHR
BestNotes EHR was developed specifically to serve behavioral health and addiction treatment practices. Whether you’ve already launched your telehealth program or you’re exploring the possibility, BestNotes can help operations stay streamlined and cost-effective.
Contact us today to learn more about how BestNotes EHR can help you improve care, track patient outcomes, and increase practice revenue.