AMA: 12 steps for providers to follow when integrating telemedicine

The American Medical Association on April 6 updated its Digital Health Implementation Playbook Series to include a new guide for physicians seeking to implement telemedicine services.

More than 140 physicians, care team members, healthcare administrators, patients and digital health leaders offered their insights and expertise to create the playbook. The guidelines aim to help physicians deploy telemedicine services to deliver care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are 12 steps the playbook outlines in order to lay the general foundation and fully implement a telemedicine program:  

1. Identifying a need. Before adopting a telemedicine solution, identify what areas your organization needs to improve, envision the desired outcome and then look for a technology to support that process.

2. Forming a team. Organize key stakeholders involved with the project into four teams: core, leadership, advisory and implementation based on their respective responsibilities.

3. Defining success. Set specific short- and long-term goals with measurable metrics and a process for tracking progress to guide the team throughout the project.

4. Evaluating vendors. Use six variables to evaluate prospective vendor partners: business/impact on program return on investment, ability to integrate with IT landscape, HIPAA compliance and security, user experience of device and interface for patients and care team, customer service available and documented clinical outcomes.

5. Making the case. Create a leadership team proposal that highlights the preferred vendor partnership and how partnering with them will deliver a positive ROI for the health system.

6. Contracting. Discuss the level of support or training expected of the vendor partner and ensure negotiations are documented in legal documents protecting both the hospital and vendor.

7. Designing the workflow. Ensure that the workflow addresses remote patient monitoring-specific guidelines for the hospital or health system.  

8. Preparing the care team. Provide staff with technical training on the remote monitoring system, new workflow procedures and patient engagement materials.

9. Partnering with the patient. Implement a patient-centered initiation process to ensure that patients are prepared to use the RPM program and they have enough time to ask questions and set expectations.

10. Launching the program. Support patients as they onboard to the RPM program and manage incoming data and communicate results to physicians in a clinically relevant way.

11. Evaluating success. In addition to hard metrics, such as increased productivity and clinical outcomes, also consider how RPM has affected patient and staff satisfaction and patient behavior.

12. Scaling the program. Consider other areas where RPM may improve the hospital or health system, such as new patient populations to connect with.

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