If you read any of the growing numbers of recent Telehealth headlines, press releases, and articles, you are aware that the prefix “Tele” can be added to almost anything. Just because it can, however, doesn’t mean it should or that it’s a good fit for your organization and the market in which you operate.

Today, I would like to introduce you to a methodology I have used for years that can help your organization better define and rank Telehealth opportunities: Telehealth Readiness Factors.

Before I list the readiness factors and their definitions, let me first address the reasons why using such a ranking method is essential to your organization.

Reasons to Use Telehealth Readiness Factors

There are at least three reasons why your organization should use a systematic methodology to define and rank the readiness of its Telehealth opportunity.

First, it ensures that you don’t initiate something simply because it sounds innovative. It also assures that key stakeholders are on the same page strategically. Third, the approach allows your organization to prioritize and focus its resources.

Ideally, an organization’s Telehealth application and opportunity scores high on all readiness factors. However, reality will often fall short of the ideal. When it does, having a clearly defined methodology allows resources to center in on areas where coaching is needed or barriers removed.

Telehealth Readiness Factors Defined

Now that you understand why employing such an approach is necessary, use the following seven readiness factors to identify, assess, and determine whether your organization is prepared to implement a Telehealth initiative and which one is right for you.

For each, you can apply a simple “Low,” “Medium,” and “High” readiness score. A 1-5 or 1-10 Likert scale is also effective in ranking and scoring the factors for opportunities that you are considering.

The readiness factors and their definitions are:

  1. Clinical Value. Implementing the Telehealth application significantly improves the patient experience, access, reduces cost, and improves quality.
  2. Physician/Provider Engagement. A physician or provider champion candidate is present with significant buy-in from others in a clinical discipline. There is a strong team and team lead present with a lead backup.
  3. Administrative Support. Senior leadership supports and validates the physician or provider champion and the clinical discipline’s strength to implement successfully. Appropriate legal and risk counsel has been contacted.
  4. Strategic Plan Congruence. The clinical discipline and the Telehealth application align with the organization’s strategic plan.
  5. Access to Funding and Technology. The clinical discipline or, if present, Telehealth office or department, has access to funding (federal grant, industry grant, foundation grant, association grant, organizational funding/capital, or other). Technology may exist, or new technology investment may be required. The initiative’s reimbursement is understood.
  6. Clinical Capacity. The clinical discipline has the capacity (i.e., time and manpower) to begin implementing successfully in the short and long term (1, 3, and 5 years). Implementing impacts the capacity for the clinical discipline in a positive and manageable way.
  7. Operational and Logistical Complexity. The ease of implementation does not pose any major operational barriers. Pre-work may or may not already be accomplished to date.

If you would like to know more about the readiness factors or see detailed examples of each, feel free to contact me via email or phone at 800.893.9698 or (C) 419.565.8008.

Bryan T. Arkwright works as a Senior Consultant with Schumacher Clinical Partners Consulting Services focusing on Telehealth/Telemedicine Strategy and Operations. Bryan speaks regularly on Telehealth and is active on Twitter and LinkedIn where he tracks the latest Telehealth, mHealth, and FutureHealthcare news and trends.