Getting started: telehealth training and workforce development
Preparing your staff to provide telehealth services starts by creating a clearly defined role for everyone in your practice.
Depending on the size of your staff, some personnel may have multiple roles. If this is the case for your practice, make sure these staff members have the time and resources they need to perform each role.
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A program leader is essential for any telehealth practice. This role is commonly referred to as the Telehealth Champion. This person should have a thorough understanding of all aspects of telehealth, from patient-facing responsibilities to technical implementation.
The Program Manager oversees the daily logistics of your telehealth program. Key responsibilities of the program manager include setting goals for your practice and gathering data to evaluate progress.
Every member of your staff will have a different level of comfort and familiarity with providing telehealth services. The Education Manager works to ensure each of them has access to the training and information they need to perform their roles successfully.
The Device Manager is the technical lead for your practice. This person is responsible for all of the devices needed to provide telehealth services, such as computers and webcams, HIPAA-compliant software and the high-speed internet connection. The Device Manager will also create or manage documentation that outlines the procedures and best practices for using these resources.
The installer is a role often performed by nurses. They are responsible for educating patients on how to use remote monitoring devices like pulse oximeters and blood pressure monitors as well as tracking their connectivity to your practice.
A telehealth provider can be a physician, physician’s assistant or registered nurse. The provider conducts virtual visits with patients and provides care based on the patient’s needs.
These staff members must also be familiar with basic telehealth logistics, such as documentation in the Electronic Health Record (EHR), billing and appointment scheduling.
The Care Manager is an essential first point of contact with patients. Similar to a triage nurse for in-person medical practices, the Care Manager assesses symptoms and conditions to determine what telehealth services they need. They are also responsible for relaying that information to Telehealth Providers.
The Scheduler oversees all protocols related to scheduling virtual visits and discusses any potential financial obligations with patients. This person should be intimately familiar with the scheduling software that your practice uses and have the ability to troubleshoot any issues the patient might encounter.
Depending on the types of services your practice offers, you may find that creating roles beyond the ones outlined above is necessary. As with any role in health care, virtual or in-person, ensuring that these roles have a clearly defined set of responsibilities is the most important factor for success.
Telehealth for Providers: What You Need To Know (PDF) — from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
Telehealth Technology Needs And Readiness Assessment — from California Telehealth Resource Center
Desktop Video Applications – Configuring Consumer-Grade — from National Telehealth Technology Assessment Resource Center
Resources Needed for Implementing Telehealth Programs — from Rural Health Information Hub