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Telehealth for chronic conditions

Developing a business plan and workflow for your telehealth program

A successful telehealth program for patients with chronic conditions requires planning, research, and an understanding of your community’s needs. Our guideline for planning your telehealth workflow can help with additional ideas and resources.

Is telehealth a good fit for your community?

You know your community and your patients best. Using telehealth to treat chronic conditions can be beneficial across a wide range of diverse populations throughout rural, suburban, and urban areas.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Does a large portion of your community struggle with treatable chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes or obesity?
  • Do you have high rates of asthma, COPD, or other respiratory disorders?
  • What percentage of your community has access to reliable internet services?
  • Do you have large communities of patients typically underserved by traditional health care programs?

Determine what type of telehealth services you will offer

There are several ways to approach telehealth when it comes to treating and managing chronic health conditions.

  • Appointments for follow-up care
  • Sick care appointments
  • Phone call appointments for patients who do not have the technology or internet access for video chats
  • Remote patient monitoring
  • Mental health services
  • Coordination with tertiary centers in local hospitals for certain diagnostic testing and imaging
  • School-based telehealth for students with chronic conditions

Staffing reminder

You may need to hire additional staffing or re-organize your current staff schedules to accommodate your new telehealth program. You will likely need someone to support the operation of the telehealth program or portal you will use with patients. Additional staff may also be needed to handle telehealth scheduling and patient support.

Research telehealth technology

You will need to plan for and put into place technology to successfully launch and sustain your telehealth care program.

Technology considerations include:

  • Stable and fast internet connection
  • Back up internet services, such as a mobile hotspot
  • A patient portal program that allows for asynchronous communication between providers and patients
  • Programs that allow you to accept data transmissions from remote patient monitoring devices, including apnea and heart monitors, weight scales, and diabetes monitoring equipment
  • Online training for providers and staff for topics such as HIPAA compliance, remote patient monitoring, and health equity

Read more:

Advancing Health Equity at Every Point of Contact — from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Multiple visits to your health care provider may be the norm for some patients with chronic illness. They may not know how chronic conditions can be managed through telehealth to cut down on in-person visits.

Advertising your telehealth program for chronic conditions is the best way to get information out to your community and build your practice.

Getting the word out could include:

  • Printed signage near your office
  • Brochures and handouts in multiple languages for your waiting room and local community groups
  • An email or phone call to your current patients
  • Social media posts
  • An ad in your local newspaper or magazine
  • Letters or postcards to the community
  • A booth or stand at community events such as health fairs or town celebrations

Tip: Improve your telehealth program by asking for suggestions and feedback from your patients and their families. This can help you tailor your services to retain and attract new patients.

Read more:

Marketing Considerations for Telehealth Programs — from the Rural Health Information Hub

Telehealth Campaign — from the National Rural Health Resource Center

Evaluation Measures for Rural Telehealth Programs — Rural Health Information Hub