How Telehealth Helps Optimize Virtual Patient Care
Major medical providers are using telehealth to optimize ongoing remote patient monitoring
The COVID-19 pandemic created an alarming health crisis unlike any seen in modern history. If there's a silver lining to the crisis, it's the emergence of telehealth. The pandemic sparked a worldwide revolution in virtual medical care, including remote patient monitoring.
Now healthcare organizations are faced with a variety of challenging questions. One of those questions is, “How do we maintain the momentum?” As healthcare professionals continue to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, it’s an opportune time to optimize telehealth and prevent losing its enormous gains for patient care and member satisfaction.
The Impact of the AMA Telehealth Initiative
In response to the pandemic, the American Medical Association (AMA) launched The Telehealth Initiative. The AMA states that although telehealth was already a priority, the pandemic “moved up the initiative’s launch to support physicians in their shift to telehealth models as a means to reduce exposure and minimize surges in care facilities.”
The initiative helps organizations refocus to make telehealth the first-line choice for patient care. It’s a comprehensive effort to provide free resources, vendor options, legal guidance, and medical expertise for healthcare organizations that are struggling to implement telehealth.
So far, the AMA has made huge strides with The Telehealth Initiative. An April 2021 analysis of the program’s impact found that most physicians will never go back to solely in-person visits.
Patients, too, have experienced the positive impacts of telehealth on their health. As patients struggle to cope with illness, lockdowns, inactivity, and mental health challenges, telemonitoring provides a welcome lifeline to medical care.
For example, a major healthcare provider in southeastern Massachusetts launched a telemonitoring program to treat 300 people with hypertension based on the AMA Remote Patient Monitoring Playbook. In the first 90 days, patients’ average systolic blood pressure dropped between 11 to 12 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure dropped between 8 to 9 mm Hg.
Another study by the Journal of Managed Care Medicine found that for a New York City hospital using telemonitoring, patient A1c levels were reduced by an average of 1.8 points. Yet another study found that hospital readmission risk fell by 44% after the implementation of virtual care solutions.
Results like these are happening across the country and around the world. Telehealth is playing a crucial role in providing healthcare and the gains made during the pandemic will benefit patients for decades to come.
Priorities for Implementing Telemonitoring in a Hospital or Health System
Success with telehealth begins with setting the right priorities. Based on healthcare professional feedback from AMA telehealth studies, hospitals and health systems should address the following priorities when implementing telehealth:
- Address workflow integration issues, including electronic health record (EHR) management.
- Maintain data privacy standards.
- Ensure the organization has proper liability coverage for telehealth.
- Staff appropriately to handle a blend of telehealth and in-person care.
- Work with telehealth experts to find digital solutions that improve efficiency, protect patients, drive revenue, and support long-term sustainability.
Overcoming Potential Barriers to Telehealth
An AMA survey found that 75% of physicians have seen positive outcomes with telehealth in the realms of pandemic-related care, acute care, chronic disease management, hospital/emergency follow-up, care coordination, preventive care, and mental/behavioral health.
Six in 10 physicians report that implementing telehealth has improved the overall health of their patients. And 8 in 10 say telehealth has improved the timeliness of patient care due to its potential for rapid appointment scheduling.
While telehealth is receiving widespread accolades from both health professionals and patients, certain challenges remain. Here are some potential barriers that remain ever-present for healthcare professionals.
- Providing equitable access to telehealth via the internet
- Connecting doctors and patients through appropriate devices
- Reaching neglected and under-served patient groups
- Maintaining security and privacy standards, including doing critical digital updates
- Time and resource management, like funding and budgeting
To overcome these barriers, the AMA encourages healthcare organizations to tap into numerous available resources. Below is a list of resources any healthcare company can use to pursue successful telehealth implementation.
- The AMA Remote Patient Monitoring Playbook
- The AMA Telemedicine Quick Guide
- Telemedicine Intro Webinar
- Making Telemedicine Work: Learn How Physicians are Using Telemedicine
- FAQs About Prescribing and Telehealth
- AMA Physician Innovation Network
- STEPS Forward™ Module on Telemedicine
Working With the Telehealth Experts
Selecting the right vendors and partners is of critical importance for healthcare organizations that are transitioning to telehealth. The AMA recommends using The Telemedicine Vendor Evaluation Tool to understand how to choose vendors that will be the best fit.
From patient safeguards and technology integrations to liability and privacy concerns, just as the use of telehealth has expanded, so has the list of questions facing physicians and healthcare executives. AMC Health offers a suite of virtual care monitoring services. For more information about our telehealth solutions, please reach out to us. AMC Health provides remote patient monitoring solutions for seamless, real-time virtual healthcare that empowers people, maximizes resource management, and improves patient outcomes.
Please schedule a demo to learn more about how to provide and optimize telehealth.