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Six Steps you should know before starting a telemedicine service

"Complex high-tech platforms that enable predictions and use AI" … It seems like a futuristic dream that became a reality. However, doctors and patients are still in the process of learning, most likely at a lower pace than the speed of innovation.

In this context, careful planning is of fundamental importance for future sustainability of the project. When starting a telemedicine project, regardless of its size and complexity, some steps are common to everyone and, therefore, considered principles for success:

1. Have a defined scope and clear goals for the project:

The possibilities of telemedicine are endless. While fascinating, it makes the initial design of the project quite complex. Define who will benefit from the service and which project objectives, not only provide satisfaction and gains to users, but also create an environment conducive to new opportunities.

2. Involve users of the system in the development and implementation of the project:

This is one of the most challenging aspects of implantation. Colleagues in the healthcare profession are often reluctant to accept change in routine, disruption of old models and long waits for maturity of projects, and the above applies to Telemedicine. It is up to the project manager to make this journey engaging and appealing for all stakeholders. The integration of users in all stages of the project helps and brings them together and motivates them to utilise all tools to make them feel that the project is "ours".

3. Know about reimbursement rules and regulations:

Every project has risks. In the sustainability criterion, financial and legal management form the basis. Reimbursement rules vary between countries, regions and health insurance systems. Knowing those rules reduces financial risk and creates greater stability for the entire process. Medicolegal aspects present numerous peculiarities and risks, but can be controlled and mitigated with procedures and protocols in place.

4. Have a technological tool suitable for the project:

A fundamental step in the process is to adapt (and often develop) technology to suit the project. The solution used, in principle, must have the following characteristics:

- Simple and friendly use for patients and health staff

-Certification regarding system security and HIPAA compliance (or equivalent)

- Ability to identify reimbursement method (insurance, self-funding, etc)

- Possibility of integration with different EHR solutions

5. Start the project with a pilot model:

A pilot puts your telemedicine model to the test, exposing it to the proposed project environment, but on a smaller scale and therefore with less risk. Basically, this pilot must engage users, test equipment and utilise systems with the same characteristics as the final project. At the end of the pilot, reevaluate your project and reflect on the experience and you might be pleasantly surprised to find new exciting opportunities.

6. Measure your results and ask for feedback:

New goals, new investments, and project expansion become possible following reassessment of the initial project. Determine the main project indicators for this. In the case of telemedicine, patient satisfaction is an important indicator, in addition to efficiency and financial outcomes. Listening to patients is crucial for health and allied healthcare professionals. Create channels of communication between the project developers and users and keep this channel accessible with focus on privacy.


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