Help Your Staff Make – Not Break — Your Telehealth Program

Your staff has more influence on the success of your new Remote Patient Monitoring program than the technology does. If they don’t like it, don’t get it or don’t see the value, they can turn it into a zombie – a program that’s dead but won’t fall down.

Why would they do that?

Because telehealth disrupts the status quo.

People who have been successful doing things one way may be reluctant to embrace something new. And telehealth is a game changer. It dissolves brick and mortar walls and blurs traditional patient-practice boundaries.

Remote Patient Monitoring Makes a Commitment to Patients.

Though remote patient monitoring is NOT urgent care, an RPM program makes a commitment that your practice will be responsive to anomalies in the patient’s readings and proactive in addressing them. It essentially says to participating patients, “We’ve got your back. If you’re in trouble, we’ll know and we’ll do something about it.” That is very reassuring to people being monitored. It also generates higher levels of engagement and accountability between the practice and patients. Monitoring gives your practice a very different view of the patient than routinely seeing him or her by appointment every few months.

As a result, patients may expect more of your practice than before. This may translate into extended practice hours and dedicated RPM roles for some staff. Patients may communicate with the office in new ways such as calls, video chats, emails and texts. It’s smart to understand that both staff and patients will have an adjustment period.

Here is how to make that transition period briefer and more successful.

As the practice leader, you can help make things smoother and reduce anxiety by talking with your team frequently and forthrightly about what you are doing and why. Your providers, clinicians, front desk and back office staff need you to answer these questions:

  1. Why are we doing this?
  2. What’s in it for the patients?
  3. What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)
  4. What will be different around here as a result?
  5. How much support will I get to make this happen?
  6. What do I need to do to make this successful?

These are important questions that deserve your attention, so spend some quality time thinking them through. The answers may even evolve over time. That’s normal. Just don’t go radio silent. Keep the conversation flowing. And be sure to listen just as much as you talk.

The Big Picture Messages Are For Group Settings.

Speak regularly about the big picture to groups and teams:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What’s in it for the patients?
  • What will be different around here?
  • What do we need to do to make this successful?

The “WIIFM” discussions should be one-on-one.

Speak privately with individuals about the personal impacts on their role, how you plan to train, support and coach them, and other things that are unique to their situation. Each person will need to know:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • What will be different about my job?
  • What support will I get?
  • How can I help?

The Change Highway

Adding remote patient monitoring to your practice is not a matter of life and death for your staff, of course. Still, people can be reluctant to try something new. People through some common stages on their way to embracing change. Typically, those stages start with knowledge of facts of the change, moving through understanding it, accepting it, embracing and finally internalizing it as “the way we do things here.” People move along this change highway at their own speed.  Understanding and encouragement from you will help keep people moving in the right direction. You’ve achieved a milestone when conversations shift from “Why are we doing this?” to “How will we do this?”

Encourage People To Participate In And Contribute To The Integration

Your team knows your patients and how things get done in your office. If they take ownership of integrating remote patient monitoring into the practice, it will happen. In fact, it’s the only way it will. So show them that you expect, value and need their help. And if you bring in some telemedicine and RPM expertise to support them and reduce the learning curve, all the better. We can help.

A Final Word

The fundamental elements of Telehealth – convenient, personalized, technology enabled virtual care — are here to stay.  Staff will build skills and knowledge that have tremendous value to your practice and increases their marketability. Be sure you communicate that, too!

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