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Why a HIPAA compliant video conferencing tool is not a telehealth strategy

Why a video conferencing tool is not a telehealth strategy

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, behavioral health and addiction organizations were forced to rapidly adopt point solutions, like video conferencing tools, to care for clients. Although their providers continue to leverage video conferencing solutions to manage telehealth operations and provide virtual programming, they’re feeling the effects of these disconnected systems and platforms on their programs and clients. Their point solutions only accomplish one part of the virtual workflow and may do it well, but they are often unreliable and disparate for both clients and providers. The result? Provider inefficiency, lack of growth, and lost revenue.

In order to continue caring for clients even after the pandemic wanes, organizations need to evolve their telehealth operations and improve the delivery of their programs with more than just video conference tools, which means changing how they think about telehealth. Telehealth is more than a video conference touchpoint and requires organizations to digitize and automate their programs from start to finish to improve the patient experience, maximize efficiency, and scale programs. It begins with booking and admission features followed by program delivery tools that make it easy to provide care. Aftercare and measurement features are also important aspects of a complete virtual program.

Booking and admission

Complete telehealth platforms for behavioral health offer not only video conferencing tools, but a suite of virtual care features to manage and scale end-to-end mental healthcare programs. Building the best patient experience so patients can easily find and complete programs starts with a “digital front door.” This digital entrance makes care easily accessible with a branded digital booking experience, enabling clients to easily find the right treatment programs and start the admissions process. Just like your in-person programs, your organization’s virtual care programs should not start and end with a video appointment. Telehealth is more than a single video touchpoint, and when client’s begin with a positive admission and onboarding experience, they’re more likely to complete their program and enrol in new ones.

End-to-end telehealth platforms make program admission and triage easy for administrators and improve the provider experience overall. Often, providers use disparate and complex systems that lack collaboration and communication capabilities. They might use one for scheduling appointments and one for charting and storing appointment notes. Disparate systems cripple healthcare operations because of the increase in administrative time spent managing multiple programs. More comprehensive platforms include automation tools such as digital informed consent, appointment notifications, and automatic billing, which remove the manual work associated with pre-program delivery so providers and administrators can refocus on their healthcare mission. 

Program configurability and delivery

Each treatment program is unique, requiring different configurations to enable the best patient experience with the best possible patient outcomes. Compared to most video conferencing tool’s single-use non-customizable platform, complete solutions allow organizations to configure treatment programs with various rules, conditions, tasks, and content to suit the needs of the clients in the specific program. Customizations can also be made for different provider teams, locations, or more, which is a major advantage when compared to a video conferencing tool alone.

Virtual treatment programs depend on more than a simple video call to be successful. They require an accessible booking page and onboarding, provider automations, individual and group appointment options, content, and after-care tools that encourage clients to complete their programs successfully. These features make up a whole mental healthcare workflow. And, without comprehensive features clients will continue to receive incomplete care. Video conference solutions restrict clients from receiving the complete mental and behavioral healthcare they need to truly complete a program and manage their health in the future.

This is why organizations need to challenge the notion that video conferencing tools alone can continue to be their complete telehealth strategy. Unlike point products, a complete telehealth solution includes tools that touch every part of a mental healthcare workflow. Looking for a complete telehealth solution that offers more than just video conference tools is required to evolve virtual care operations.

A significant aspect of a comprehensive mental healthcare workflow is content tools. For OnCall’s client, Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centers, content features are a requirement for their evolved telehealth strategy. Their initial virtual tools were too limited and did not enable Trafalgar to scale its existing treatment programs or start offering new ones. Shane Saltzman attributes Trafalgar’s success to its ability to personalize care through OnCall. In fact, “Trafalgar went from having one group a week at each physical location, to actually offering three groups a day, five days a week, virtually.”

Analytics and outcomes measurement

Real-time data gives healthcare leaders and providers better insights into client treatment and program growth. However, measuring any virtual care result and outcome is incredibly challenging with a point solution that doesn’t offer this feature. Unlike point solutions, a major advantage of comprehensive telehealth solutions is the ability to measure the success of virtual care and its effects on clients and providers. With a detailed analytics dashboard and client health outcomes measurements, you’ll be able to better respond to and anticipate changes to client health, treatment and program requirements along the way. This might look like optimizing a client’s treatment plan because they are moving more quickly through a self-led program than their provider anticipates. Their provider can change the content the client receives, make appointments more frequent, or change the type of appointment.

Ultimately, a strong analytics tool will help you and your providers understand how virtual care and treatment programs affect your organization beyond four walls, including how clients engage with their treatment and how your business grows over time.

Adoption versus evolution

Video conference point products enable only a single piece of a virtual care workflow and treatment program. To truly evolve a telehealth strategy for long term growth, behavioral healthcare and addictions organizations need to look beyond their point products to a unified, complete solution that enables providers to deliver comprehensive programs and the best client experiences. When an evolved telehealth strategy pits the client experience above all else, organizations will continue to see clients enroll in more programs and see a higher program completion rate.

Providers who continue to use disconnected platforms will only continue experiencing discontinuity in their care, a lack of connection to their clients, and more burnout as a result of disorganization. With an end-to-end telehealth solution that automates the entire virtual care workflow, providers can get back to what matters– providing the best mental healthcare to clients and delivering the best client experiences.

As Shane Saltzman, CEO of Trafalgar Addictions Treatment Centers says, “video conferencing solutions only enable video interactions, and nothing else. Virtual outpatient programs require much more than a video appointment to succeed, to enable better outcomes for clients, and to help leaders build their telehealth operations.”

Read Shane’s interview to learn how Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centers delivers comprehensive virtual treatment programs with a comprehensive solution.