It can be challenging to engage some of your patients in telehealth, especially older adults who may prefer not to use the computer or video technology. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred a sudden shift to telehealth, and your practice may be ready to utilize this method of delivery, but your patients may not be! Below are some tips for how to engage your patients in telehealth:

1) Educate patients on the benefits of telehealth: Telehealth not only gives patients the ability to stay at home and avoid potential exposure to infection while receiving health care consultations from their physicians, but it also provides patients the ability to access their medical records, schedule appointments, and message with their providers. Patients can even share images with their doctors and receive consultations over email or phone. At telehealth.hhs.gov, you can find patient-facing materials that prepare patients for telehealth and ease anxieties, such as “How to Prepare for a Video Visit.” Additionally, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology created a “Patient Engagement Playbook” that clinicians and staff can use to increase patient engagement in health information technology.

2) Get caregivers and family members involved: The transition to telehealth is a great way to get caregivers and family members involved in a patient’s healthcare. Caregivers can participate in telehealth visits, ask questions, and help monitor the care of their loved ones. Family and friends can also help set up the technology required for telehealth visits.

Mountain-Pacific Quality Health (a subcontractor of NRHI) is working with AARP to engage older adults with health information technology through a partnership with local high schools. Read more about this partnership here.

3) Overcome barriers to telehealth in rural areas: There are serious challenges to implementing telehealth in rural areas, including lack of broadband. Some patients in rural areas do not have reliable phone connections, let alone internet connections and bandwidth for video transmission. While challenges remain, the Rural Health Information Hub provides resources to help address access to telehealth in rural areas. Check out their Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare Topic Guide and the Rural Telehealth Toolkit.

For more advice on engaging patients in telehealth, reach out to your Technical Assistance Contractor for FREE personalized support. Find your Technical Assistance Contractor here.

About Author

Healthcentric Advisors
As the New England Quality Payment Program Support Center, Healthcentric Advisors assists New England-based physician and other eligible clinical practices to prepare for and participate in the new Quality Payment Program (QPP), established by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA).