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Best practice guide

Telehealth for emergency departments
For providers Best practice guides Telehealth for emergency departments

Developing an emergency department telehealth strategy

Developing a new telehealth service involves extensive planning for implementation as well as a forward-looking strategy that covers evaluation and sustainability. Investing in the planning part of your process will help you anticipate and prepare for the work ahead.

Creating a telehealth plan

There are many business needs to consider and decisions to make as part of your planning process. Your plan may include how you will:

  • Assess patient needs during the development of your new program.
  • Define the scope of your service.
  • Design your program (hiring, training, workflows, infrastructure and IT needs, communication with staff, communication with your community).
  • Create a roadmap for implementing your new services or for scaling up existing programs.
  • Develop your evaluation strategy to measure your program’s impact on the communities you serve.
  • Monitor your program and make adjustments.
  • Find funding for your new program.
  • Sustain your program in the short and long-term.

More information about planning:

Evaluating your telehealth program

After you have developed your overarching telehealth plan, adopting an evaluation framework will help you:

  • Measure the impact of your program
  • Support long-term sustainability
  • Identify areas for improvement

There are multiple existing models to help you develop your own evaluation framework, these typically cover quality of care, access, cost, provider satisfaction, and patient satisfaction. These frameworks can also help you compare your metrics against those in programs that don’t use telehealth.

Once you have your evaluation framework, you will need to figure out how to incorporate it into your day-to-day activities. Integrating it into your electronic health record (EHR) systems is ideal. The more innovative the program, the more important it is to closely monitor it. This will help you make quick adjustments if your program isn’t performing to your standards.

More information on evaluating your program:

Planning for sustainability

If you’re starting or expanding your telehealth program during the COVID-19 public health emergency, many policies and billing flexibilities make this easier. Since these are subject to change, it’s also important to plan for the future.

More information about sustainability:

Last updated: May 4, 2021

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