Telepsychiatry… we know it can be daunting.
At the end of the day, you just want to do what’s best for your patients without breaking the bank. And there are a lot of options out there, which you’d think would be a good thing – but sometimes, more options can lead to more confusion.
Selecting a telepsychiatry company to work with is an important decision. It carries a lot of weight for the future of your organization.
We’ve heard too many horror stories of people pursuing a partnership with a telepsychiatry company that just wasn’t the right fit – and thousands of dollars were wasted because of it. We want to help you avoid that mistake.
One way to avoid selecting the wrong company is by asking them the following eight questions before signing any contracts:
1. Are your providers salaried employees or 1099 contractors?
This is easily the most important question to ask a telepsychiatry company you might work with. Too often, this question is overlooked or brushed off. Telepsychiatry companies will say they have thousands of providers in their network, but what does that really mean? Typically, it means they either have a lot of resumes to finish reading or they have a lot of contracted doctors. Ultimately, telepsychiatry companies with full-time, salaried doctors face significantly less turnover. On top of that, it typically means they cover all benefits – including malpractice insurance, health insurance, PTO, and CME credits. Don’t overlook this question when you speak with a potential telepsychiatry partner.
2. Will you force us to use your software?
We believe telepsychiatry organizations should integrate into your existing systems – whether it’s paper records, AllScripts, Epic, or some other EMR – rather than force you to use theirs. Consider how much simpler it will make the entire process of development, implementation, and integration. In our experience, the entire process is much more likely to be successful when telepsychiatry companies integrate into the EMRs that their partners are already using.
3. Will you use current technology I have?
There’s really no reason a telepsychiatry company should be encouraging you to make expensive technology purchases in order to start a telemedicine program. It’s relatively easy to use technology that you already have – whether it’s telemedicine equipment from a prior partnership, or even a laptop in a spare closet! If you don’t have any technology that can be salvaged for your telepsychiatry set-up, then the telepsychiatry company should make recommendations based on your price range.
4. Will you perform an on-site implementation, and what will it entail?
Many organizations will only perform virtual implementations, however, there is a lot of value in having an on-site implementation, even if the industry standard is to charge a flat rate for implementation. Regardless, you should find out if they will perform on-site implementation, what the cost is, and what it entails. This way, you can better explore your options. A telepsychiatry department is only as successful as its implementation.
5. Will I get to select the provider I work with?
We’re always shocked by the amount of telepsychiatry companies who simply form a partnership with a clinic or hospital and simply say, “Here’s your provider,” without much more of a conversation. As a decision-maker in this space, you know it’s wildly important to find a provider who is the right clinical and cultural fit for your organization – regardless of whether they are on-site or virtual providers. Be sure to ask any telepsychiatry company you are considering if you will be able to interview the provider they match with your organization.
6. Will your team manage licensing and credentialing (including the cost)?
Licensing and credentialing is one of the most important pieces of implementing a telemedicine program in a timely manner. Does your prospective telepsychiatry partner take care of that for you, or will you be expected to make that happen? This may affect your choice to pursue a partnership with a certain organization. It takes time and money to complete all licensing and credentialing for a new provider, and that might be time and money you just don’t have.
7. Will you provide on-site training?
This speaks to what kind of partner this telepsychiatry company will be. Will they come alongside you and help you get buy-in from your staff, or will they leave you to figure that out on your own? On-site training can be a tremendous asset to your current team, as you can familiarize all team members on the telemedicine protocols.
8. Will you provide educational materials for patients?
Often, one of the biggest fears for anyone considering implementing a telepsychiatry program is that the patients will hate it. We can tell you with great confidence that’s far from true, but regardless – it’s important to find out if your telepsychiatry partner will help you educate your patients on the value of telepsychiatry. For example, in the past, we have created one-pagers and brochures upon request, sharing details with patients about their telepsychiatry provider. This way, the patients can get to know their provider before entering into their appointments.
Finding the Right Telepsychiatry Partner
At the end of the day, finding the right telepsychiatry partner is just like finding the right telepsychiatry provider. It’s all about finding the right clinical and cultural fit for your organization, and only you know exactly what that is. However, we hope these questions point you in the right direction as you begin to figure out who the right telepsychiatry partner is for you.
About Iris Telehealth
Iris Telehealth is a telepsychiatry provider organization made up of the highest quality psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Our mission is to provide underserved communities with access to the best mental health specialists and prescribers. We are owned and operated by doctors who understand what patients need and have earned a reputation for providing outstanding customer service. Iris values building strong professional relationships with our partners and their staff. We are dedicated to understanding your organization’s needs and operational goals because we recognize that your success is critical to our own.
Iris Telehealth has helped countless hospitals and community health organizations across the country add telepsychiatry to their list of services. We believe everyone should have access to compassionate mental health care, and we have made it our mission to find innovative, affordable ways of making this possible!