In today’s ever-advancing technological environment, even medicine has gone digital. With telemedicine, patients have access to providers at their fingertips, at all times. This platform allows patients greater opportunity to get the care they need — and it’s giving providers greater flexible opportunities to practice as well. As a nurse practitioner (NP), chances are good you provide care in rural and other underserved communities — a population with a lot to gain from the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of telemedicine.
However, there’s also a chance you aren’t being sufficiently trained in everything it entails.
How can you best prepare for a telehealth role? Here are some tips:
1. Learn and Use Proper Telehealth Etiquette
It’s important to know the ins and outs of what’s appropriate, especially in a nontraditional healthcare setting like telemedicine. Certain behaviors that you may not think twice about in an in-person visit could be bad for business in a telemedicine encounter, resulting in a poor experience for both you and your patient.
Ensure the best possible telemedicine interaction by following these etiquette tips:
- Position the camera properly.
- Set up in a quiet space.
- Clear the area of unnecessary clutter.
- Dress mindfully.
- Be aware of where you hold your gaze.
- Adapt for a digital interaction. (Just as you wouldn’t write anything in an email that could be easily misunderstood in the absence of vocal tone and facial expressions, you’ll want to ensure you’re adequately conveying what you mean over a telehealth interaction.)
2. Collaborate With Other Healthcare Professionals
Telehealth can be a great tool for interacting not only with your patients, but with your colleagues as well. As a nurse practitioner who may be providing care from a distance that would make in-person conversations impractical, you have a lot to gain from telehealth: Collaborating and simply having access to other healthcare professionals is made quick and easy.
3. Get Familiar With Rules and Regulations
Despite all its benefits for providers and patients alike, telehealth isn’t without its obstacles. According to the American Telehealth Association (ATA), barriers to telemedicine implementation involving practice standards and state licensure include differing definitions of physician-patient encounters, rules regarding the presence of an on-site telepresenter, state laws over NP practice, and more.
As a nurse practitioner who may be interested in implementing telemedicine in your own practice, make sure you do your research and get as familiar as possible with these regulations and how they might apply to you.
4. Understand the Cost
By now you know one of telehealth’s greatest benefits is its cost-effectiveness. But do you know how that cost is regulated?
Insurance coverage and provider reimbursement play a huge role in determining the use of telehealth in practices. These regulations include state laws related to coverage for telehealth services, Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, private payers, parity coverage, and more.
Just as you should make yourself familiar with state licensure laws, you should ensure that you understand which regulations are affecting the cost of offering telemedicine where you practice.
5. Make Telehealth a Safe and Secure Space for Your Patients
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) establishes guidelines for electronic health transactions, national identifiers for providers, and the security of health data. As the provider, you are responsible for not only ensuring your patients and their privacy are protected, but also for ensuring the overall safety and security of all telehealth encounters.
6. Use the Ethics You Already Know, but Be Aware of Differences
While you’re obligated to uphold the same ethics as you would in a traditional face-to-face provider-patient interaction, telehealth poses a few challenges. Often, telemedicine visits can be perceived as less personal and less private than in-person visits. With that in mind, do your best to display the same attentiveness you would in an exam room of the hospital or clinic.
Just as you’re responsible for maintaining the privacy and security of your interactions with patients via telehealth, you’re responsible for upholding ethics in the same manner as you would during an in-person visit.
7. Make an Informed Decision
Ultimately, the more you educate yourself about telehealth as a provider, the better able you’ll be to decide if it’s right for you, your practice, and your patients.
Barton Telehealth is the simplest way to make your talents as a healthcare provider available to patients, regardless of where you’re located. Our video platform makes it easier than ever to treat patients virtually, and thanks to Barton Associates’ nationwide staffing network, we have clients right now who are looking for your skills. There’s no special hardware or third-party software required to use Barton Telehealth: All you need to provide great care is a computer, webcam, microphone, and high-speed internet connection.