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Analysis

Four Tips for Delivering Safe, Efficient Telehealthcare

By John Commins  
   October 07, 2020

The Joint Commission's new Quick Safety advisory weighs in on virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic 

 A new Quick Safety advisory issued this week by The Joint Commission offers providers tips to ensure the safe and efficient use of telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Telehealth has proven to be particularly effective during the pandemic because it promotes social distancing, allows for remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients, reduces the need for personal protective equipment, and helps access care for patients with transportation barriers.

"Telehealth has provided a safe option for many high-risk patients during COVID-19 by allowing them to seek medical care while avoiding unnecessary exposure to the pandemic," said Christina Cordero, project director, Department of Standards and Survey Methods, The Joint Commission.

Still, The Joint Commission notes that barriers to effective telehealth care delivery remain, particularly for patients who aren’t technologically savvy or who have connectivity issues.

Cordero offered these four tips to help providers improve telehealth services during the public health emergency.

  1. Establish metrics for success, such as the number of patients seen via telehealth, reductions in no-shows and clinical outcomes, and make sure your telehealth vendor can provide easy access to data that supports the metrics.
     
  2. Develop protocols for virtual care and determine standards for the specific symptoms and conditions that can be managed virtually.
     
  3. Train staff on the telehealth workflow, define roles and responsibilities for staff and patients, and explain new processes. Include staff feedback into scheduling.
     
  4. Provide real-time access to patient data and collection of remote patient monitoring into the electronic health record, especially data on temperature and pulse oximetry, blood pressure and glucose.
      

"While telehealth does not come without its own set of barriers and challenges, its benefits can be maximized when health care organizations consider safety actions and strategies to provide safe and quality care through telehealth," Cordero said.

“While telehealth does not come without its own set of barriers and challenges, its benefits can be maximized when health care organizations consider safety actions and strategies to provide safe and quality care through telehealth.”

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Establish metrics for success and make sure your telehealth vendor can provide easy access to data that supports the metrics.

Develop protocols for virtual care and determine standards for the specific symptoms and conditions that can be managed virtually.

Train staff on the telehealth workflow, define roles and responsibilities for staff and patients, and explain new processes.

Provide real-time access to patient data and collection of remote patient monitoring into the electronic health record. 


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