In this Telehealth Feature Series, we’re going to cover the long list of potential telehealth features available today. As you’re considering your own approach to telehealth, we will provide you a look at all the possible features telehealth companies are offering on the market. Plus, we’ll offer our insight into the nuances of each feature so you can select the right telehealth company or companies you use. Not all telehealth is created equal, so taking the time to understand all the possible features and options is worth the effort.
The next feature we’re going to cover is Automated Patient Reminders (SMS and email).
As we look at this feature, we’re seeing two approaches from telehealth companies. Either, they are building these notifications right into their system or they are partnering with another vendor to provide them. There really is no middle ground on this feature. It’s a must have feature for a telehealth company. You must have a digital means of communicating with the patient or a telehealth visit will never happen.
The good news is that there are a lot of options. The bad news is that most telehealth vendors have to be flexible when it comes to this feature because there are so many options and requests from organizations. The challenge comes when trying to navigate a healthcare organization’s existing notification system along with telehealth. For example, if they already have an existing notification system (which they should), then is the existing system going to notify patients about the telehealth system or are you going to exclude telehealth visits from the existing system and use the telehealth systems notification system since you need it to send a unique URL for the patient to join the telehealth visit?
These seem like simple questions, but they can get complex really quick. In fact, if you do it the wrong way, you can leave a patient really confused. Especially if they’re getting multiple messages and those messages don’t match up. If possible you should try and only have one patient reminder system. In many cases that means going with a third party solution that can integrate with your scheduling system and your telehealth vendor. They often offer a more sophisticated solutions as well that will ensure better results.
That said, EHR vendors will no doubt argue that this is one of the benefits of purchasing their telehealth solution. There is certainly some benefit in an EHR vendor integrating the full scheduling and patient reminder system with their own in house telehealth solution. It means your staff just needs to plan and schedule in one system and the notifications will go out based on the type of appointment scheduled. The argument against this is that many EHR vendors haven’t invested in a sophisticated patient reminder service that meets all the needs of a healthcare organization.
The best advice when it comes to automating patient reminders is to keep it simple. Finding one solution that can handle all your needs is best. Dividing this between multiple systems based on appointment type is just asking for trouble and complicated issues. It’s generally worth the investment to find one solution that can work for all of your patient reminder needs. Maybe that will be through your EHR itself, but often it means working with a third party patient reminder service that has a great integration with your EHR.