As many hospitals and clinics double down on telehealth during the Covid-19 pandemic and the “new normal” that we can expect in the future, it pays to measure the success of your telemedicine program. Optimizing your approach to these performance metrics is a great way to ensure you are seeing the return on past investments and determine where you need to focus more of your future telehealth investments. Two fundamental aspects here are focusing on the telehealth outcome measures in line with your organization’s overall strategic needs and setting matching targets that take key implications into account.
Align telehealth metrics with your overall strategy
As illustrated in an article from The American Journal of Accountable Care, using telehealth has been shown to improve both long-term care management and patient satisfaction - just two of the many diverse benefits of telehealth. With many examples of outcomes and metrics to track, where do you start? First, consider metrics you may already have in place. Are there any relevant industry best practices or organizational benchmarks you can use to develop your metrics program? By carefully aligning telehealth goals with your organization’s overall strategy, you can determine which metrics are most important for your specific needs.
From a care delivery perspective, you may be primarily interested in improving patient and care team experiences, broadening access to care, and improving clinical outcomes whereas IT will focus more on volumes, system capacity/performance, and incident management. Exploring the full breadth of available virtual healthcare solutions which enable secure, easy-to-join telehealth visits will help support your organization’s key technical and clinical metrics.
Financial metrics are also often a key measurement to consider. Whether you’re under pressure to spend taxpayer money responsibly or are in the private sector, you may be looking to increase revenue and cut costs while boosting operational efficiency. Telehealth has often been shown to reduce healthcare costs; in fact, it was considered “cost-effective” in 73% of the cases addressed in the European Commission’s market study on telemedicine. Demonstrating these kinds of metrics can be important for internal acceptance and adoption of your telehealth program, and for ensuring that continued resources are put towards ongoing maintenance and improvements.
Although each of the examples above may be important to your team, it will be easier to demonstrate progress and achieve success if you can keep your tracking simple. Decide what’s most important for your organization - for example, it may be metrics focused on measuring finances, patient outcomes, or technological performance. Why are you investing in telehealth in the first place, and how does your organization define success? Be sure to establish a common understanding with key stakeholders so everyone understands your telehealth initiatives and the intent of their associated metrics. One person’s definition of “success” could be vastly different from someone else’s without clear communications.
Set telehealth targets, but don’t lose sight of the big picture
If you want to measure improvements in a metric like patient satisfaction, be sure to establish a solid baseline and set realistic targets. Define what you’re comparing against making sure the criteria are transferable. For example, you could compare in-person visits to video visits. Cutting patient wait times is usually correlated with higher satisfaction rates. For instance, a HealthLeaders study found that video visits saved one to three hours for nearly one-half of patients, while 40% saw time savings of more than three hours. Therefore, you could set a target to increase the number of video visits by a certain percentage for use cases with demonstrated time savings. Targeting specific scenarios allows you to focus operationally in those areas where there’s opportunity for the greatest impact.
Remember when I said you should be specific about choosing your metrics? That doesn’t mean you can afford to lose sight of the big picture when setting targets. Each metric should provide actionable guidance towards achieving the overall goals of your organization. With data comes clarity in where to spend valuable time and resources to achieve the greatest outcomes. It is an on-going journey as technology and user adoption continue to evolve.
Choose the right telehealth solution
Before you can begin to implement a successful metrics program, make sure you choose a telehealth solution that’s worth measuring. While you may have some general expectations of what telehealth can do for your organization, it never hurts to speak to those with existing large-scale, successful programs. So much has been learned, especially over the past year, that there’s no longer the need to start from scratch. Now more than ever before, it’s critical to choose a long-lasting solution that will improve a variety of measurable outcomes for patients, providers, and administrators.
Learn more about how video conferencing from Pexip Health can streamline your organization’s telehealth solution.
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