Starting a Telemedicine Practice in 4 Steps
Technology made huge advances and times have (drastically) changed. Which is why you might be interested in starting a Telemedicine practice. Whether you are thinking about adding telemedicine to your existing practice or starting from scratch, this switch can be a great way to keep costs down, generate more revenue, maintain customer loyalty, and providing services that patients still need without taking risks in trying times.
Telemedicine is a whole new way to develop and run your practice, which is why is very important to define certain things before starting. Let's start with the basics.
Step 1: Shaping a Strategy
What do you want to get from telemedicine? Being clear about this will allow you to build the structure of what later will be your shining Telemedicine practice. Take the following information as a checklist of steps you should take when starting out.
Define Your Strategy and Goals
Why are you starting or transitioning to telemedicine? The situation nowadays gives enough reason, which makes it an obvious option. But you want to pan out and look at the bigger picture. Will you continue with telemedicine after the situation changes? If so, you need to dig deeper and select a main goal.
- Is your goal to use this is as a main income or a source for extra income?
- Or will you use this as a way to attract new patients to your main practice?
- Or to use this as an opportunity to be location independent?
Define Your Business Model
- Will you be 100% virtual?
- Will it be a hybrid model practice?
Consider if one-on-one meeting with your patients can be done through distance or if it's absolutely necessary to have face-to-face appointments. For example, while parent's questions to a pediatrician can sometimes be easily solved via a video call, a dermatologist may struggle to operate 100% remotely.
Rethink Your Strategy
After having a more realistic view due to choosing your business model, perform some tweaks based on that.
Think about the pricing model: Insurance or cash based? Take in consideration that some commercial insurers often cover video telemedicine, but there are some exceptions.
Also think about it from a geographical (hybrid or fully virtual) standpoint. If you already have a practice, you can ask your patients if they would be comfortable with virtual appointments. Your strategy has to be structured for a specific type of patient, or types of conditions, or types of visits.
Be Completely Local
Focus on a specific city or state. In this particular time the laws are not strict and we can practice across state lines. But who knows how long it will be like this. Always check the laws, requirements for licensing, the Medical Board, etc.
State regulations may limit the mode you operate, the patients you are able to take, paperwork, etc.
Step 2: Building Your Team
Telemedicine will impact the functions in a practice. It's very important to get the right people involved in the roll-out of your program. Here are some suggestions on how to correctly set up an effective task-force.
Define Your Team According to Your Strategy
Based on your goals and your strategy, set up your supporting staff.
For a 100% virtual business, you may need a virtual assistant (for scheduling, emails, posting, etc) and/or a virtual medical assistant (supporting medical role). It's essential to have someone supporting you.
For a hybrid business, you likely already have an in-house staff. It's important to incorporate them to your virtual strategy as well. With a new platform, new tasks will emerge.
Cross-Train Your Staff and be Clear About Their Accountabilities
This is especially helpful when there are extremely urgent tasks and one isn't available. When cross-training, different people are able to assume different roles, so you have a backup. For example, you could have a billing staff that's cross-trained for appointment setting and and vice versa.
Use this to effectively grow your practice and diversify your team's accountabilities, that way you can focus on your own tasks. Also, the sooner you integrate them, the better. Get them invested in the practice success.
Take Into Consideration Non-Clinical Staff
Remember that you should also add team members that are more from an entrepreneurial standpoint, and absolutely necessary to get your business off the ground.
- Web designer: To build your webpage and active platforms like a scheduler or appointment settings.
- Attorney: To help you put together contracts or agreements.
- Accountant: Keeping your numbers in order from the start will help you along the way and while reaching the top.
Step 3: Technology
One of the most important decisions you will make is the platform in which it will function. It's just like looking for premises for your telemedicine practice. There are plenty of options in the market, so make sure you take your time to research and make the right decision. Here are some things to keep in mind before selecting your technology partners:
You will need a platform that allows for video visits and an electronic health record or electronic medical record. There are some systems that have both functionalities incorporated, but they can be quite expensive.
When you're first starting out with a tight budget, you can use different platforms. Zoom Business (after they did some updates on their security settings) is a solution for video calls, as well as Spruce. For electronic medical record, a popular one is Practice Fusion.
Easy to Use
It needs to be simple to use. Both for you and for your staff. If you are a tech rockstar and adapt easily to technology, but your staff is struggling… that isn't going to end well.
Image having staff members duplicating information, not noticing about appointments, not being able to send documents… Chaos!
Make Sure You Integrate Payments
You need a system that integrates billing, or easily integrates for third-party billing solutions if you chose the insurance model. Payment methods should be available for direct payments.
Keep in mind you can always change your mind about these methods and go from insurance to cash or vice versa.
Step 4: Marketing
While parent's questions to a pediatrician can sometimes be easily solved via a video call, a dermatologist may struggle to operate 100% remotely.by Dr. Maiysha
This is one of the hardest parts for people in our industry, because we are used to people coming to us instead of reaching out to them. But when you step into the world of entrepreneurship, you have to think strategically and enter the marketing game.
Keep in mind these are short tips and shouldn't be considered a full marketing strategy. Marketing is a complex matter and can't be explained in a few lines.
Don't jump in and think later. You could lose a lot of money and time in tactics that will lead you nowhere. A proper strategy in which you have defined your goals, your ideal client/patient, and the necessary research will give you the data you need, and you'll be able to answer some questions like:
- What problems does your ideal patient currently have?
- Which of those problems are you solving?
- What's the average income of your ideal patient?
- How much is your ideal patient willing to pay to solve that problem?
- Where can you find them?
- What do they usually do during the day?
- What's the tone of voice they usually respond to?
This data will help you put in order tactics, timelines, and places where you can reach out to them. Be patient with the process, go through the research first.
Additionally, if you already have a practice, make sure that your patients are aware of the telemedicine option. Post signs in your practice, send emails, personally let me know, etc.
If you want help starting your telemedicine, integrative medicine, coaching, consulting or cash based practice, let's get on a call. Schedule your FREE strategy session: