Telehealth is a reliable solution for the current and future medical landscape. It has grown in incredible ways, and it continues to do so. If you are considering implementing telehealth in your practice, you might have questions about hardware, software, and other telehealth technical requirements.
Telemedicine is here to stay. It is valuable, especially while we deal with the new world, post-COVID. The numbers show a 50% increase in telehealth visits in the first quarter of 2020. However, a somewhat concerning statistic is the over 41% of patients delayed seeking care because they were avoiding exposure to the virus during the crisis. With telemedicine, those patients might have received the care they needed when they needed it.
Telehealth Technical Requirements
- Access to broadband internet
You and your patient will need a fast, secure internet connection. Otherwise, you might suffer low video quality, which your patient might equate to a low-quality physician.
We recommend testing the speed of your internet connection, and you can do that by visiting speedtest.com. You will want a minimum of 50 Mbps for your download speed and 5 Mbps for your upload speed for a good experience using video in your consultations.
If your internet speed is subpar, call your internet provider and ask for an upgrade. Then, test again.
On the patient end, if their internet is not fast enough, you might ask that they use an Ethernet connection during the consultation. Another option is for the patient to use their smartphone.
- Access to technical support staff
Telehealth is not a technology platform that should go unassisted, and most telehealth platforms provide initial training sessions, and ongoing support included in their packaging. Others might have you pay extra. Be sure to ask your telehealth vendor how they package technical support.
During implementation, the technical support staff will work on configuring your platform according to your needs. You will have the smoothest transition into using telehealth software if you take advantage of the implementation period and make sure you and your staff know how to use the software.
When you utilize technical support, you benefit through:
- A stable internet connection.
- Interruption-free consultations.
- Assistance with your hardware, software, and other concerns you might have.
- Imaging technology or peripherals
Ensure you can view CT scans and other images necessary for patient care when using your telehealth technology.
- Staff training
You and your staff require training to ensure that you understand how to use the software. Typically, there is a training day with periodic refreshers.
Not all telehealth platforms are compatible with the same hardware. Ask your vendor what devices will work with their platform so that you can avoid technical difficulties. You will want to inquire about the operating systems that are compatible with the software, as well. While many patients own smartphones with cameras that are compatible with telehealth software, not all do. Make sure your patient has the proper equipment before the consultation.
- Telemedicine kit
Telemedicine kits are essential for those on the frontline in remote areas. The kits are sturdy and resemble a large briefcase or medical kit on the outside. On the inside is a computer that features an integrated screen, mobile medical devices, and a camera.
- Digital camera
You will need a webcam or digital camera to provide telemedicine services. Your provider might offer high-resolution exam tools that you need, specifically if you plan to take photos to send to other physicians for their assistance.
- Telemedicine kiosks
Telemedicine kiosks resemble photo booths but inside are the most commonly used equipment and mobile medical devices for a consultation. Not all telehealth providers use them, but you might need one if you plan to extend your reach by offering services to employees at major businesses or pharmacy customers.
- Telemedicine software
Telemedicine software is a vital component for offering telemedicine services. Although the patient can use their smartphone for a consultation, you must comply with HIPAA standards as a medical practitioner. Additionally, the Healthcare Guys advise doctors to keep in mind cost, features, and ease of use when choosing a telehealth platform. Other than that, ensure that the telehealth software will work for your practice.
Look for the following technical infrastructure requirements:
- Electronic prescriptions must be a built-in feature. Check out benefit #3 on our home page to see how this looks.
- HIPAA compliance is critical.
- EHR integration is necessary for successful telehealth practice.
- Encryption security is vital for protecting data.
- Analytics are necessary for measuring your progress towards goals.
- Reimbursement documentation should be easy to record and share properly.
Additionally, the software must integrate with mobile devices you plan to use for patient care. It also must integrate with your existing IT infrastructure for a seamless experience.
Check that your chosen telehealth software platform has a scalable design. Your practice goals likely include growth, and your telehealth software must be able to keep up. Also, ensure it is easy to keep up with reimbursement shifts and other changes before they happen.
To ensure scalability, ask your provider if their device can integrate with software and devices from other manufacturers. That way, you are not stuck with the same provider in the future due to technical infrastructure requirements.
- Mobile medical devices
Mobile medical devices, like mobile ECGs and vital sign monitors, must also have the ability to integrate with your telehealth software. Ensure that you have the devices you need. If you are unsure of what you need, inquire with your telehealth platform. CareTime MD will integrate your devices upon request.
- Other telemedicine equipment
You might use telemedicine equipment depending upon your practice needs.
Consider the following:
- Virtual stethoscopes
- Remote vital monitoring devices
- Wireless scales
- Digital otoscopes
- Pulse oximeters
The key takeaway is that there are specific telehealth technical requirements for software, and you should ensure that your software works with your devices. You also need to make sure that your telehealth software can integrate with your other office software. Lastly, you and your staff will receive the training you need to work with the software properly.