#7: Evaluate & Improve
Define success early on and collect data from the beginning of your program. Starting with a clear vision of success allows the practice to highlight improvements made with each metric and, ultimately, the overall success of its telehealth services.
- Data collection does not have to be difficult, especially when it is integrated as a part of workflows and operational processes up front. Some technology products have the means to track metrics built in.
- If a formal quality improvement process already exists in the practice, use it. Otherwise, develop one to regularly review performance, client and provider satisfaction and utilization, then evaluate the data and forward results to the appropriate staff for any needed adjustments.
- Each practice should identify its own metrics, but suggestions include numbers of telehealth interactions overall and broken down by the type of visit (e.g., surgical follow-up, dermatology consult, gastrointestinal issue, hospice care) or service (e.g., prescription refill, AI-assisted diagnostics, review of data from a remote monitoring device). Additionally, practices may want to log increased traffic on websites, blogs and vlogs, social media references, and client phone inquiries. Gathering demographics is important to gauge which groups your telehealth services are appealing to most so you can identify ways to share telehealth’s value with those who may be less frequent users. Staff will be interested in ways telehealth is streamlining their work, allowing technicians to better utilize their skills, and improving positive results for patients.
- Electronic survey options are available that enable you to ask clients about their visit and can help you secure testimonials at little or no cost. Again, be sure you have obtained permission to use your clients’ comments in any marketing material.
- Make sure while you are tracking client satisfaction, you are also tracking patient outcomes. Better patient care and results not only support your professional mission, they are also one of your best marketing tools.
- Review data with an open mind and adjust as necessary.
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.