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#4: Design the Workflow

Implementing new telehealth services in your practice may require modifying your workflow to ensure a positive experience for clients, patients, and the veterinary team. Logistics such as work and exam space; appointment scheduling; data monitoring; and management, staffing, and communication may need to be adjusted. If you’re just starting to expand, you may want to begin with appointments as that may create the least amount of workflow disruption, especially in the early stages.

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TIP: Create telehealth policies, procedures, and protocols that are as close as possible to the practice’s protocols for other types of services; recognizable protocols will lead to consistent clinical results and will instill comfort and confidence in your veterinary team.

ACTION ITEMS

  • Review your existing clinical processes and workflow.
  • Determine how you need to modify your workflow, then incorporate necessary changes to integrate telehealth into daily practice operations (Figure 3).
  • Develop resources to incorporate the modified workflow within your practice, including policies, procedures, and protocols for when using telehealth tools is appropriate or not.
  • Identify any standard operating procedures that will need to be modified (e.g., scheduling, approach to diagnostic workups, forms and reminders, staff training, consent, communication templates, invoicing).
  • Determine how and when telehealth services will fit into your schedule (certain days, specific hours each day, exams at particular times with call-backs at others).
  • Create a physical environment that will support successful delivery of the telehealth services you have chosen to integrate (e.g., ensure appropriate Wi-Fi connections and internet bandwidth; provide a visually appealing, well-lit, and quiet space for audio and video consultations).
  • Develop client educational materials or source them from your vendors, if applicable, to help set expectations.
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Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc., CareCredit, and Merck Animal Health have supported the development of the 2021 AAHA/AVMA Telehealth Guidelines for Small-Animal Practice and resources through an educational grant to AAHA.