Telemedicine best practices from Mass General

There are many good reasons to launch telemedicine programs—including expanding a patient's access to care and reducing costs—but physicians who have the most effective practices target specific patient populations.

That was just one of the telemedicine success tips that Sarah Sossong, director of telehealth at Massachusetts General Hospital, shared this week at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, as reported by Medical Economics.

The first step for practices, she said, is to make sure clinicians know the patient population they want to target. Next they must have a full understanding of why they want to launch the new venture and also a plan for incentives so that physicians, patients and administrators will want to participate.

In primary care settings, for example, the clinical team could focus on chronic disease management. Cardiologists, she said, could target their services to home-bound patients through virtual visits or provide remote triage support to an emergency department.

Return on investment always has to be top of mind when developing a telemedicine program. That’s why facilities need to measure direct revenue from payers or contracts, in addition to revenue from patients and cost avoidance due to reduced in-person visits and hospitalizations.

A well-built telemedicine program can also help providers transition to value-based care, according to Sossong, because the clinical team will help increase access to care, while improving care quality through building sustaining relationships between physicians and their patients.

She also suggests that practices secure a clinical champion, one who has the respect of their peers and can spearhead the program. And, Sossong said, to build a solid business, make sure the proper legal, regulatory and technology infrastructure is set up.

“In the end, the success of your telemedicine program will be measured not only in the achievement of your goals, but in the nature of the journey you take to reach your destination,” Sossong said, according to the publication.