In 2020, telehealth took a giant leap from an emerging practice to an integral part of the healthcare industry. Though remote pediatric occupational therapy (OT) has been around for several years, teletherapy strengthened its roots and helped it become a more sophisticated solution. While it may seem that clinic-based sessions would be more effective, telehealth gives new opportunities to families with barriers to traditional therapy models. According to studies, pediatric telehealth has a high patient satisfaction rate when done correctly. Here are 7 best practices to pediatric occupational therapy via telehealth.
1. Work with the Right Tools
High-quality software is the key to smooth patient-therapist interaction during a pediatric telehealth session. Even though pediatric OT relies heavily on parents, patients are involved as well.
Children who need occupational therapy may experience challenges with poor video quality and sound delays. That’s why it’s imperative to invest in exceptional hardware, software, and video-conferencing tools.
To make certain that therapy session proceeds smoothly, make sure your internet carrier provides a fast internet connection. Also, practice using new technology with the staff before starting telehealth sessions to minimize hiccups during show time.
Look for telehealth solutions that are mobile-friendly and work together with other features in your EHR. This way, telehealth, payment processing, reporting and reminders can combine for the ultimate therapy toolbelt.
For any software that you decide to use for your telehealth needs, you need to ensure patient data privacy to comply with:
- HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996)
- The HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009)
- FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974)
2. Streamline Documentation
When it comes to pediatric telehealth, some therapists may work from the clinic and some may be working from home. Regardless, the documentation produced before and after each session must be organized and filed according to the clinic’s best practices.
With a variety of practice management and EHR tools available, keeping documents in order shouldn’t be a problem. By filing information electronically, it’s possible to keep it secure while having access to it anytime and from anywhere.
3. Provide Pediatric Telehealth Training for Parents
When any clinic implements pediatric OT telehealth, it needs to be easily accessible for and easily understood by patients’ and parents. While your team may have solid experience with telemedicine, many patients don’t.
Besides learning how to take full advantage of telehealth, parents need to understand how to help their children with the technology. Implementing training and support documents (e.g. FAQ) can help improve the experience for patients, their parents, and staff.
It’s also important to provide special training to therapists who don’t usually practice telemedicine. With this knowledge, they can take on telehealth duties during peak demand times (like the COVID-19 pandemic). Well-trained patients and staff improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of teletherapy sessions.
4. Use the Available Resources
Whether you are newly implementing telemedicine for your pediatric OT services or have had it in place for a while, your clinic can benefit from using the following resources:
- American Occupational Therapy Association’s Telehealth Section
- American Academy of Pediatrics’ Telemedicine Publication
- Local Telehealth Resource Center
You should also explore regulations (both federal and local) related to security, licensure, and billing.
Many of these resources can serve as guidelines for your telemedicine efforts. However, each clinic eventually sets up its own pediatric telehealth structure and best practices.
5. Learn about Reimbursements
Even though telehealth reimbursement is becoming easier, some healthcare providers are still having trouble getting reimbursed for their services. To make sure you are paid for your pediatric telehealth services, it’s imperative to have a strong billing system in place. Simple errors made when filing claims with insurance companies could lead to denials, rejections, and time-consuming appeals.
Many clinics struggle with telehealth coding because staying up to date with the latest changes and requirements can be complicated. Having a strong grip on the process of revenue cycle management (RCM) is imperative to avoid claim denials and getting reimbursements on time.
So, when it comes to telehealth billing, it’s a great idea to employ an EHR like Fusion which can help you with revenue cycle management. For example, Fusion allows you to outsource billing and RCM to dedicated specialists and the service works perfectly in tandem with the other EHR capabilities like telehealth.
6. Market Your Services
Parents who are looking for pediatric occupational therapy options often don’t know that it’s possible to work with a therapist on a remote basis. That’s why clinics need to make and extra effort to promote these services and educate patients about telemedicine opportunities.
Since telehealth makes it possible to help children remotely, you now have the ability to widen your marketing efforts to attract a wider audience that may not have been able to work with you in the past.
- Make information about your telemedicine services appear on your website.
- Make sure your telehealth services are listed in both local and national directories.
- Send email announcements to your existing patients.
- Create promotional signs in your office.
Even though telemedicine isn’t new, many patients, especially parents, are still cautious about taking full advantage of it. It’s up to clinics to educate them about telehealth possibilities for pediatric occupational therapy.
7. Ask for Feedback
No matter how hard you try to implement a stellar pediatric telehealth service, it’s always possible to overlook some details. By asking families for feedback, you can learn how to adjust your telemedicine program, thus improving your clinic’s profitability.
Besides listening to your patients’ comments, make sure to ask for the staff’s feedback as well. It can help you gain valuable insight and make the program better for all parties involved.
Improve Your Pediatric Telehealth Services Today
Using telemedicine for pediatric OT can help your patients get the necessary therapy on time regardless of their ability to visit the office. Meanwhile, the right approach to pediatric telehealth can help you streamline your services and improve the clinic’s bottom line.
Implementing and maintaining a telehealth program is impossible without the right tools. At Fusion, we have a set of powerful solutions for clinics that offer pediatric OT telehealth services. To learn more, contact us today for a free live demo.