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Implementation Overview

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Conduct a needs assessment: Since each practice is unique, there is no “one-size-fits-all” model for implementing telemedicine. Therefore, it is important to conduct a needs assessment and identify areas in your practice where telemedicine would make sense. This includes understanding providers and practice staff’s perspectives on utilizing telemedicine, any additional human resource needed for implementation, the financial repercussion, and the area of the practice where telemedicine would make the most impact for the practice.

Conduct an external market analysis: Researching the external environment can provide an understanding of the issues that exist outside of the practice and allow for strategy formulation that anticipates potential external environmental impact. Additionally, a competitive analysis will provide a picture of how competitors in the area and around the country are using telemedicine, which in turn can yield ideas for a strategy to support the goals the practice has outlined.  

Set goals: The telemedicine implementation team should work to define clear goals for the initiative so that all stakeholders are aligned and working towards the same desired end state. Communication around the goals should occur at all levels of the practice and should be communicated to staff. The goals should be consistent with the mission, vision, and values of the organization and supported by leadership. Progress on implementation goals should be routinely reported to leadership and practice staff.  

Research vendors: After conducting a needs assessment, determining what services your organization will focus on and the particular patients you plan to provide telemedicine services for, the type of telemedicine mechanisms required should be more defined. Vendor selection is an important component of an implementation plan and should consider what functionality is needed to improve efficiency, not hinder it. Some vendors may not offer solutions that make sense for smaller practices or larger institutions, so stakeholders must have a full understanding of the specific functionality and niche a specific vendor fits into. Reviewing references and speaking with colleagues about their experience with their particular vendors may help you gain insight into the pros and cons of the various vendors.  

Evaluate performance: Once the telemedicine program is implemented and initiated, the process shouldn’t stop there. There should be some process in place using tangible metrics that evaluate how the change has impacted the organization and how well the services are working both operationally and concerning patient care. Consider what is working well and what may need to be tweaked so that the experience for both physicians and patients is valuable. For example, implementing a survey to assess both the experience of patients and providers involved in the telemedicine visits is one effective way to assess the opportunities and potential pitfalls from the perspective of the primary users. Additionally, monitoring on-going performance in terms of success and opportunity for improvement may serve as a key opportunity for expansion to additional patient populations within your practice where telemedicine use may make sense. Monitoring performance will help you identify challenges and develop strategies that will assist to alleviate the issue and improve the program.