The use of virtual care has “ramped up” due to the pandemic. A few of Synzi’s customers recently shared their keys to success in introducing telehealth and driving utilization across their staff, patients, and referral sources:
- Engage patients early: The key to patient interest and utilization is to position virtual care as VIP care. As one agency leader said, “We get such great participation because we explain to them from the start of care that we use technology to provide better care almost like a VIP service.” She continued, “Our patients are relieved to know that if they have an issue, we can get a set of eyes on them to help.”
- Establish an internal champion: Agencies agree that it is essential to identify high performing staff who will embrace, learn, and advocate for virtual care. These champions might be early adopters who prove out the solution. Many clients start virtual care with a select team. Champions should be available and able to assist and encourage other staff who are more reluctant to change. Some organizations have an “innovations” team in place to lead this kind of initiative. Identifying individual “innovators” on staff works too! It is also effective to designate an ongoing “owner” to follow up and report on solution use across the organization. As an agency executive shared, “For this kind of program to be successful, you MUST have a dedicated internal champion.”
- Drive internal buy-in with “WIFM” (what’s in it for me): Building and sustaining staff interest and excitement will help ingrain the use of virtual care. One agency leader said that “leadership MUST make the use of telehealth a mandate but MUST also show what’s in it for staff (sales, marketing, and clinicians) and the patients. You have to get the staff excited.”
- Integrate virtual care into current/existing workflows: Taking the “physical” out of physical medicine may require a shift in the mindset of consulting clinicians and physical therapists. Conducting workflow analyses will help the team understand how the virtual care platform fits in with current clinical practices as you establish protocols which are consistent with existing, in-person protocols. This will help providers feel more comfortable in adopting virtual care and delivering care using technology on a regular basis. As one virtual care developer highlighted, “starting small and building on initial successes helped drive awareness, excitement, and adoption for scalability.”
- Market telehealth to your marketplace: To minimize penalties and maximize outcomes, referral sources are prioritizing home health agencies which can show how they are engaging patients, increasing satisfaction scores, and lowering readmission rates especially within the initial 30 days post-hospital discharge. As one agency’s sales and marketing executive stated, “having the ability to do unlimited virtual visits with an unlimited number of touchpoints really gives us a competitive advantage.”
Using a combination of messaging and video touchpoints, a virtual care platform can help a home health agency increase satisfaction and outcomes for the patient while actively reducing the number, length, and related costs/penalties of hospital stays. The coordinated plan to engage patients throughout the episode of care helps agencies minimize any “what if” scenario for the future of their agency, their reputation, their staff, and most importantly, the agency’s impact in their region and community.