As an increasing number of healthcare facilities offer telehealth services to their patients, hiring needs in the marketplace are expected to change drastically. According to the National Business Group of Health, already 70 percent of large U.S. employees are using telehealth services.
Also commonly referred to as “telemedicine,” telehealth is a term that encompasses a wide range of diagnoses, management, and education. It also includes other fields of healthcare including dentistry, counseling, physical and occupational therapy, and chronic disease monitoring and management, among others. Some of the many benefits include improved access to healthcare, improved patient outcomes, reduced healthcare costs, better productivity, and improved support for patients and families.
Defined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as one of the biggest trends emerging in healthcare, telehealth consists of a “two-way, real-time interactive communication between a patient and healthcare provider at a distant site.”
Because physicians’ time is limited, it is the responsibility of employees to answer patients’ questions in a timely manner through a broad variety of technologies. And, because technologies are continually advancing, the candidates you recruit must be skilled at handling the many tech functions of telehealth, including live video, email, and mobile communications platforms.
Here are some onboarding tips to ensure employees possess the clinical knowledge and customer service skills to perform telehealth responsibilities effectively on the job.
Provide telehealth training
Every employee will come to your organization with a different set of technology skills. You’ll want to provide a standard training during your onboarding process to teach employees how to use the telehealth functions of your organization.
Your employees should feel comfortable using the technology employed by your organization. This technology can include video chats, mobile apps, an internal email system, and others. A required standardized training will provide new employees with a foundational of knowledge for your organization’s telehealth system and how they can use it to best serve patients’ needs. Most importantly, it will allow them to put their skills into place immediately, without having to engage in extensive learning on the job.
Create a culture focused on patient care
With so much technology at employees’ fingertips, employees sometimes forget to give patients personalized attention. Even when telehealth channels replace face-to-face communication, your employees must understand the importance of providing high quality patient care.
You can create a culture focused on patient care by making customer service a priority in all your organization’s procedures and protocols. This involves always being properly staffed, keeping patients fully informed of their diagnoses and treatments, and implementing effective communications practices across all departments.
Even when telehealth eliminates the need to meet with patients in person, your employees’ attentiveness to patients can significantly impact patient satisfaction.
Adhere to all HIPPA privacy guidelines
Despite the many benefits of telehealth communications, using technological platforms to communicate with patients poses a privacy risk. All components of your telehealth system should be compliant with HIPPA regulations, and safeguards should be in place to ensure patient privacy.
While HIPPA allows for the electronic exchange of health information, it’s imperative to make sure your telehealth functions are in full compliance. For example, security considerations may involve making sure unauthorized parties cannot record or listen in on a video conferencing session. All videos recorded with patients should be properly stored and identified securely so they cannot be accessed.
It’s critical that your employees are fully educated about the process for initiating, receiving and storing video calls. No matter what type of telehealth technology you use, you need to establish standard policies for making sure patient information is kept secure.
The effectiveness of a telehealth system is dependent on training employees and reinforcing policies related to patient care. As you hire and onboard new employees, incorporating training and education about your system is essential for both positive employee performance and patient satisfaction.
As the emergence of this new technology has the potential to completely change the face of healthcare, it’s paramount that organizations make sure their workforce is equipped to handle telehealth practices as efficiently and effectively as possible, without compromising quality of patient care.