Lessons learned from a former population health and IT director
Virtual care regulations are still in flux, especially at the state level. That’s why mitigating risk in telemedicine is more important than ever. But what’s the best way to achieve it? That question can feel head-scratching at best and panic-inducing at worst.
Guiding principles for virtual care compliance
Start with these two guiding principles that I picked up during my time as a population health and IT director at Loudoun Medical Group prior to joining eVisit.
- Solutions must be easy (and safe!) to navigate. A recent McKinsey report identified three main success factors from a customers’ point of view, and clean compliance relates to all of them: convenience, trust, and impact on health outcomes.
- Ability to fold compliance into existing workflows is optimal. The same report notes that 77% of respondents generally agreed that “ecosystems… need to be integrated with existing products.”
No one benefits when systems become unwieldy. Making the experience seamless for both provider and patient is key to fully harnessing the potential of the virtual care market, which has stabilized at levels 38X higher than before the pandemic.
The virtual care model makes all the difference
Let me share three models I’ve had experience with:
Model 1 (Good) – Your digital record system doesn’t allow for changes to its HIPAA compliance template, so you try to squeeze information into existing fields. Maybe you add a note in the patient’s information that you reviewed the virtual care system with them. You’ve cobbled together a “workaround.” But, when you’re asked to pull compliance reports, you spend hours combing through different records. Ugh!
Model 2 (Better) – Anticipating that you’ll want all the information in one place, you design a protocol for entering all HIPAA compliance-related information into a separate record amended to patient documents. That makes things easy to find, but it requires double-entry of various pieces of information, while the patient idles on camera growing increasingly frustrated—a real issue considering that 41% of patients are willing to see a different doctor if it reduces their wait time.
Model 3 (Best) – Your virtual care platform is more than a two-way video solution. It already includes HIPAA compliance fields in your database’s SOAP (patient intake or progress note), outlining key points such as patient consent and the type of virtual care platform, examination details, length of visit, an appropriate plan of action, and more. Compliance is baked in. It’s there for the intake workflow, and as new requirements emerge, the software updates will easily modify the fields.
Should you expect your virtual care platform to include functionality that mirrors the “best” model above?
Two years into the pandemic, you bet!
In many respects, there’s no going back. For many encounters, your patients expect virtual care to be an option going forward. And they expect their virtual care experience to be as safe and secure as the in-person visits they have come to trust over the years.
Administrative friction can compromise virtual care compliance
EMR integration with built-in compliance is more important than ever. Many of the best telemedicine platforms allow users to document a patient encounter, record audio or visual notes, and then attach this sort of information to the patient’s health record. Some will generate an exportable record that can be easily imported into an EMR system and added to a patient’s file. Still others are built to directly integrate with EMRs, so that patient histories are readily available.
And, there’s zero administrative friction between recordkeeping for both in-person and remote visits in systems that include built-in compliance mechanisms. No friction.
Ready to see how today’s telemedicine platforms can tackle your biggest compliance conundrums? Schedule a consultation with one of our strategic advisors.