Cleveland Clinic, Bellin Health exemplify team-based telehealth, AMA says

The "doctor-does-it-all" approach doesn't work for in-person healthcare and isn't effective for telemedicine either, the American Medical Association says.

A team-based approach is the best way to optimize telehealth and one of the five major steps in establishing a telemedicine program, according to a Feb. 28 AMA article.

AMA's updated telehealth toolkit cited two successful examples, both involving chronic disease follow-ups: Cleveland Clinic, which has medical assistants do an extensive intake by phone prior to the virtual visit, and Green Bay, Wis.-based Bellin Health, which involves the medical assistant more during the actual telehealth appointment.

Here are 10 tips from the AMA to optimize team-based telehealth:

1. Let the patient choose their visit type when possible.

2. Track appointment type demand.

3. Schedule realistic time slots for virtual visits.

4. Support patients in gaining familiarity with the technology and establish expectations.

5. Considered simulated "practice visits" for clinical teams.

6. Have a backup plan for technology failures.

7. Help the patient assist with the physical exam.

8. Respect boundaries for patients.

9. Respect boundaries for clinicians.

10. Optimize scheduling.

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