There’s a lot to consider when implementing telepsychiatry into your health system, but first, let’s explore what telepsychiatry really is…
Telepsychiatry is an innovative practice in healthcare where the field of psychiatry uses technology, or telemedicine, to improve patient and provider access. It generally refers to the delivery of psychiatric assessment and care via telecommunications technology, typically video conferencing.
Telepsychiatry equips health systems across the nation with the tools to provide high quality, accessible and affordable mental healthcare to their patients. We have an ever-increasing demand for mental healthcare in the United States, which is directly affected by our national shortage of psychiatric providers. Telepsychiatry is a solution that is transforming the way care is delivered. It’s allowing hospitals and health clinics in rural and underserved areas to recruit excellent providers and improve patient care while reducing or maintaining costs.
So it makes sense why so many people are considering creating their own telepsychiatry department. But where do you even begin?
It can seem overwhelming, but we’ve found that asking yourself three simple questions can help you take the right steps to implement a successful telepsychiatry program.
1. Why telepsychiatry? Are you looking to add, maintain or grow psychiatric services?
Do you have psychiatrists, but you just need a few more people to help with the patient load? Is your health clinic located in a remote area where it’s hard to recruit or retain doctors? Knowing whether your organization will use telepsychiatry to supplement in-person care or will use telepsychiatry as the main vehicle to care is critical to determining your plan moving forward.
If you plan to supplement current on-site psychiatric providers with a telepsychiatry provider, then you need to determine how their workflows will mirror each other. You will also need to develop best practices for your care team’s communication.
If you plan on hiring a telepsychiatrist and solely use telepsychiatry in your organization, then your on-site staff will need to be prepared to make small changes to the current workflow in order integrate the remote provider and ensure your program is successful.
We have seen both methods work successfully in various settings and knowing which one you plan to use ahead of time is a key factor.
2. What technology will you use to deliver telepsychiatry? Do you have any existing hardware and software that you can use for your telepsychiatry program?
Maybe you have a few spare laptops in a closet somewhere. Maybe you tried implementing telemedicine in the past and it didn’t work out so well – leaving you with equipment from this attempt. Maybe you have some carts hiding in the basement.
It doesn’t need to be complicated or require a large up-front investment. A lot of times, people already have equipment that can be repurposed for telepsychiatry, which often reduces the early fees of getting started. As far as software goes, telepsychiatrists will typically document into your existing EMR and use simple video conferencing platforms, like Skype for Business.
Even if you don’t have much equipment – or any equipment at all – startup fees truly are minimal. All you really need is a laptop with a high quality camera and microphone, but knowing what you already have, and what you need, helps get the ball rolling.
3. How will you build your telepsychiatry program? Will you keep it in-house or will you work with another organization, such as a telepsychiatry provider vendor, or telepsychiatry provider services organization?
Do you have the know-how, equipment, and people to start a telepsychiatry department on your own? Or would you like the support, expertise and assistance of an experienced telepsychiatry provider partner?
Many groups have the resources and infrastructure to start in-house telepsychiatry on their own. For other organizations, that’s simply not a desire, or even a reality. If you’re going to partner with another organization, you probably want it to be the best one out there, right? After all, they will be working with your patients and your staff. You want a partner that is a leading industry expert with the experience to be a true consultant, working alongside you every step of the way to develop and deliver a custom telepsychiatry solution.
So you’re looking to hire a telemedicine provider, but you don’t know where to begin. We get it! We’ve been there, and over the past six years, we’ve learned how to identify the qualities that make (and don’t make) a great telemedicine provider.
Before you even post the job description, it’s important to deeply understand your existing clinical workflows and how a telemedicine provider will integrate into your clinical team. By identifying potential kinks and roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared for future issues that, inevitably, will arise. This can also help you find the right provider — someone who is not only a great clinical match but also helps foresee and solve for any problematic situations.
Before You Post the Job Description
Consider these questions before you start the hiring process for a telemedicine provider:
- Will your telemedicine provider be completely remote, or will they occasionally come on-site?
- This can affect workflows and clinical organization.
- How will your existing clinic workflows develop to include a telemedicine provider?
- How will the patient’s experience change?
- How will your existing staff’s roles and responsibilities change?
- How will you ensure open communication between your telemedicine team and your existing care team?
- Will your telemedicine provider beam into care team meetings?
- Will you set up a daily/weekly huddle with your on-site team and your telemedicine provider?
- Will you provide a training for everyone to learn telemedicine workflow?
- Who will develop and provide this training?
Taking the time to think about these questions will help you find the right provider for you. Trust us when we say that not every amazing doctor is an amazing telemedicine provider – even we have made hiring mistakes in the past! In fact, we’ve learned it takes a strong and unique skill set to make an excellent telemedicine provider.
How We Know What Works
Iris Telehealth is a telepsychiatry provider organization made up of the highest quality behavioral health providers in the business. We partner with hospitals and clinics nationwide to bring mental health care to areas desperately in need of it.
We employ more than 100 psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who are truly integrated as part of our team. And here’s the thing: We know they’re the best of the best because we receive hundreds of applications each week and only extend a formal offer to six percent of all applicants. Our partners and their patients also report a high satisfaction rate, and patients can easily build relationships with them despite the fact that they are beaming in via video conferencing technology.
We have an extremely thorough and rigorous provider vetting process, and our tried-and-true method has led us to hiring the best in the business. We want to share our knowledge, so we took some time to analyze characteristics of our doctors. We found that top teledocs share a lot of specific qualities…
What Makes A Great Telemedicine Provider?
- Patient-centered care.
This can be said for any provider, right? It is incredibly important, regardless of medical specialty or whether they are on-site or remote. Here’s the thing: How many providers say this and really mean it? It’s important to take the time to identify the providers who genuinely believe patients always comes first and who practice what they preach. This is one of the most important factors to ensure patient satisfaction and high-quality care.
- Team mindset.
It’s easy for remote employees to feel like they are a “team of one”, so it’s incredibly important to foster a sense of inclusion between remote providers and onsite teams. Providers who have a team-focused mindset tend to integrate well into existing clinical care teams and feel like they are truly a part of the team, no matter the physical distance. We all know it takes a village to care for our communities and the better we work together, the better the outcome for our patients.
It’s much easier to be held accountable when you’re surrounded by colleagues than it is when you’re potentially 3,000 miles away from them. Telemedicine doctors need to be self-motivated go-getters who are able to hold themselves accountable in their work. When it comes to having remote employees, there’s a level of trust that needs to be reached — and that can be hard to achieve if your provider isn’t a self-starter.
- Tech-savvy… or willing to learn how to be tech-savvy.
Yes, this job requires a certain amount of comfortability with, and knowledge of, technology. We’ve found that telemedicine providers do best when they have an intermediate level of comfort with technology (and we’re lucky enough to have an IT team available to our doctors 24/7). At the very least, they need to be willing to take training courses (typically provided by you) to learn how to use specific hardware and software in your organization if their existing skills are a little less than satisfactory. You want the technology to fade into the background during the patient’s experience, which can’t happen when IT disruptions occur.
- Willing to ask for help.
Our providers are incredibly knowledgeable, but they also know when to ask for help. We’ve found that this is an important quality as you scale your team and continue to improve your program. Providers who don’t know how or when to ask for help may find themselves overburdened or stuck with an issues for days, especially since they can’t just walk down the hall for support. Instead, those who are willing to ask for help will increase productivity, improve quality of care, and foster a sense of comradery with on-site teams.
Your telemedicine providers will be interacting with patients all day, but they need to be independent workers. They’ll likely be in a home office, and independence is an important quality for anyone working from home. This will help them remain motivated, but also is just a good quality to have for anyone who will be alone for much of their job.
Telepsychiatry is a great way to improve access to care for your patients — but is it right for you?
While telepsychiatry can work in nearly every setting, that doesn’t necessarily mean it makes sense for everyone. When considering whether to start your own telepsychiatry program, there are a lot of questions to ask yourself.
The biggest one: Is telepsychiatry the right solution for us?
How can you know? Well, we believe knowledge is power. So let’s dive right into what telepsychiatry is and everything you need to know to get your own telepsych department started.
How Telepsychiatry Works
Starting your own telepsychiatry program can be intimidating, which is completely understandable! Often times, the biggest hesitation comes with not really knowing or understanding how it works. The great thing is, it’s not that complicated. In fact, we always tell people when telepsychiatry is done right, it mirrors on-site patient care in nearly every way — regardless of setting. The “tele” part is just a tool — a tool to connect your patients with an awesome psychiatric provider.
Integration is key. With proper workflows and consistent, simple technology telepsychiatrists can integrate fairly seamlessly into your clinic or hospital’s care team and systems.
For example, our psychiatrists work directly into the EMRs of the health system, just like on-site staff, and concurrently document their notes while seeing patients. We’ve found this reduces disruption in communication between the care team and improves continuity of care for the patient. It also allows the telepsych provider to establish and cultivate strong relationships with staff and patients, which makes the whole process much easier.
Simple and effective technology systems also play an important role. You don’t need fancy IT systems — your staff has enough work on their plates already! We highly recommend testing your IT solutions, training staff and performing dry-runs prior to the launch of your telepsychiatry program. Connectivity issues, poor network speeds and complicated software and hardware often cause disruptions that can affect the patient’s experience. The ultimate goal is for the technology to fade into the background during the e-visit.
The Patient’s Perspective
Technology has become an integral part of our day-to-day lives and, in a world where technology is king, patients are growing more and more comfortable with the intersection of healthcare and IT. Studies show that nearly 75 percent of patients are comfortable with using telemedicine and more than 95 percent are “very satisfied” with their telemedicine encounters.
Here’s why: The only difference is there’s a screen between the doctor and the patient.
Most people are familiar — and comfortable with — Facetiming and video chatting to keep in touch with friends and family members. Telemedicine isn’t any different than these virtual interactions many of us have on a daily basis. When you boil it down, a successful telemedicine interaction usually involves a provider who excels at connecting with people over video — which is a unique skill that not everyone has.
Finding the Right Provider
Not every great psychiatrist makes a great telepsychiatrist. And it comes down to more than just tech-savviness.
Telepsychiatrists need to be flexible — because if something changes, they’ve got to be comfortable going with the flow. They need to be personable — because sometimes there is a little bit of legwork to make the patient comfortable and a little more skill to create a human connection over video. They need to be excellent communicators — because they don’t have the luxury of walking over to their colleagues’ offices. Most importantly, they need to fit into your culture and have a shared belief in your values and mission. They have to be the right choice for you.
It can be hard to find the right provider for many reasons — particularly with psychiatrists being a diminishing resource. Finding the right provider is easy… when you know how to attract them. What that means for you is making your clinic/organization an appealing place for them to work. Be open and honest about your patient population, your clinical expectations and the characteristics you are looking for in a provider. When a provider is passionate about the type of work they will be doing, it’s a “win-win-win” for the provider, for you, and for your patients.
How Telepsychiatry Technology and Software Work
Telepsychiatry…even the word sounds complicated. And if you start thinking too hard about the technology and software that’s needed for telepsychiatry, you might get bogged down. But here’s the thing: Luckily, it’s much easier than you think.
We always tell people you don’t need much to start telepsychiatry in your organization. A laptop, maybe a mic, and your preferred video software platform. The rest will come together rather easily.
As mentioned previously, our world is dominated by technology. Most people are comfortable with it, and this will be a huge asset if and when you launch your telepsychiatry program. The bottom line is, fear of technology shouldn’t stop you from utilizing telepsychiatry and simplicity is key.
So… Is Telepsychiatry Right For You?
Now that you (hopefully) have a better understanding of how to start telepsychiatry, you can easily determine if it’s right for your organization. Telepsychiatry can work in almost any setting and can be a great solution to improving patient care all while creating more efficient systems for your organization.
You’ve heard about this cool, new thing called telepsychiatry and you’d love to give it a shot, but there is one thing standing in your way… You still use paper records.
Here’s the thing: You’re not alone! According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS), 6 percent of hospitals still use paper records. With many hospitals struggling to just break even, just thinking about the cost of an electronic health record (EHR) is enough reason to avoid implementation.
So, we get it. EHRs, while convenient, cost money…and a lot of it. Plus, they require a lot of time between transitioning records over and training staff. It can be hard to start new things when your current systems are already working just fine, thank you very much!
Did you know that paper records and telemedicine aren’t mutually exclusive?
The truth is, with the right tools and know-how, the two can work together seamlessly. Who would’ve thought?
How can you be sure we’re not making this up? Why should you trust us?
We’re a telepsychiatry provider organization made up of the highest quality psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners in the business and we partner with numerous hospitals and clinics throughout the nation to connect their patients to excellent providers.
Telepsychiatry is an innovative practice in healthcare where psychiatric providers use technology, or telemedicine, to deliver psychiatric care to patients, typically via videoconferencing. It improves patient access to standard psychiatric services, like psychiatric assessment and medication management.
Telepsychiatry equips health systems across the nation with the tools to provide high quality, accessible and affordable mental healthcare to their patients. We have an ever-increasing demand for mental healthcare in the United States, which is directly affected by our national shortage of psychiatric providers. Telemedicine is a solution that is transforming the way care is delivered. It’s allowing hospitals and health clinics in rural and under served areas to recruit excellent providers and improve patient care while reducing or maintaining costs.
We actively work with health systems that still use paper records rather than electronic health records. And, surprisingly enough, it works! Let us give you the low-down.
Integrating Paper Records and Telepsychiatry
Our company’s founding mission is that rural and underserved communities deserve the same access to mental health care as the rest of the country. Many telemedicine organizations allow paper records to be a barrier of entry by refusing to find a way to integrate with health systems that still use them. We found a way — because we fundamentally believe that something as common as paper records shouldn’t stop people from receiving the care they deserve.
We work with a handful of health systems that still use paper records for their EHR, and through a trial-and-error process, we learned what works and what doesn’t.
From our partners collective experiences, we’ve found the solution to integrating an off-site doctor into your health system, while also having them use paper records, is actually pretty simple.
Typically, we digitize all necessary forms so our psychiatrists can complete them in an approved, automated fashion mirroring a traditional EHR. They will sign and fax the forms to the system so they can be printed and placed in the nurse’s chart. Any other paper forms for patient evaluations, follow ups, and billing codes can also be integrated into our system and completed by our doctors.
Our partners have found that this system may take time to get used to, but is the most efficient workflow to ensure paperwork is properly documented – and trust us, we’ve tried a lot!
Integrating Paper Records and Telepsychiatry
It’s crucial to have the full support and buy-in of your on-site staff for the success of any telepsychiatry program. But this is particularly important when it comes to integrating a psychiatrist into a system that utilizes paper records because it requires clear communication among all staff members, including those off-site.
Our partners have found that a few simple steps make the process of getting your staff on board much easier — and it all comes down to making them feel valued. Buy-in is easier to foster when your people feel personally involved. Below are a few of the ways we encourage our partners, and you, to train on-site staff to ensure integration is seamless:
1. Develop a clear workflow
This seems simple, but it’s easily one of the most important components. Without a clear workflow that everyone can understand, chaos can, and will, ensue. In one of our largest hospital system partners, they have flyers hanging up at the nurses’ stations with a detailed workflow for telepsychiatry consults – starting with how to schedule one and outlining each step thereafter. This way, it stays top-of-mind and is readily accessible to anyone who forgets a step in the process.
2. Host several staff training workshops
Our partners have found that hosting not just one, but a handful of staff training workshops before, during, and after implementation makes a huge difference in the initial success of their telepsychiatry program. This not only keeps your existing staff on their toes but also allows for new staff to be trained.
3. Have your provider start on-site
Not all of our providers start on-site. However, our partners have found that when there are a lot of moving parts (like implementing a workflow with paper records and telepsychiatry), it makes everyone feel more comfortable and confident in using the telepsych service. Since your staff will be assisting the telepsychiatrist with documentation, an on-site start helps foster a good working relationship with your telepsychiatrist.
4. Continue to ask for feedback from your staff
Telepsychiatry is a great solution to expanding your existing care team and psychiatric services — but it’s still an adjustment for your staff. It’s important to make your team feel valued during times of change so they know you recognize that adjustments aren’t always easy. Our partners make sure their nurses and other on-site staff know our door is always open for constructive feedback when it comes to improving the workflow and growing our telepsychiatry partnership.
When it comes to telepsychiatry, I’ve seen it all. I know telepsychiatry is a mutually beneficial innovation: it allows psychiatric providers to work from the comfort of their own home and health systems to find the best psychiatric providers for their patients
You might be wondering who I am…my name is Marcella Nichols, and I’ve been the Recruiting Coordinator for Iris Telehealth for almost a year now. I have an M.S. in Clinical Psychology and this, combined with my professional certification in human resources, gives me a unique advantage, as I interact with the psychiatrists and psychiatric advanced practice nurse practitioners who apply to work with us.
Because I interact with psychiatric providers on a daily basis, I thought I could provide some insight into what our telepsychiatry positions entail and answer some frequently asked questions. I wanted to share why I’m passionate about telepsychiatry, and why Iris Telehealth has earned a reputation as one of the best companies to work with/be apart of.
On a personal note, I volunteered to write a blog post because I enjoy writing and as a Yelp Elite, I thoroughly enjoy sharing all the details of an awesome business. Some may consider this a 5-star review…and they’re not wrong!
Why Telepsychiatry Is The Perfect Opportunity For You
Telepsychiatry provides a different type of work environment for psychiatric providers. Picture this: you start your day in your own home office, in a space that feels and looks professional. A space that is well-lit, and free of distractions. You sign in to your telepsychiatry interface, and you’re off to work. No time wasted commuting to a clinic or hospital in your car, the subway, or the bus. Technology allows you to start your day by simply walking into your home office, which is one of the biggest perks. Commuting = time…time away from your family and time away from your patients. If you’re someone who hates to commute, telepsychiatry may be for you!
At Iris Telehealth, the majority of our partners are outpatient clinics in a community mental health setting. Telepsychiatry gives these clinics access to providers they might not otherwise be able to hire since it’s difficult enough to recruit psychiatric prescribers due to provider shortages, let alone when located in a rural area! It allows for some of the most underserved and disenfranchised communities to receive amazing psychiatric care and services. Something we don’t talk about enough is how incredibly rewarding it is for you, the provider, to have the ability to serve these patients – the patients you are so passionate about helping. Hence, telepsychiatry is a phenomenal solution. For us, there is nothing more rewarding than building lasting relationships with our partners and our providers. We strive to provide you with the security and stability of a long term placement by matching you with the best partner for your availability, skills and experience, and clinical preferences.
How To Do Telepsych (Even If You’re Not A Techie)
Don’t worry if you’re not a technology expert, telepsychiatry is actually simple to use. If you can use a computer, and have a solid Internet connection, you can do telepsychiatry! We also provide 24/7 technical support, so you have experts at hand if there’s ever an issue. As a Recruiting Coordinator, I’ve experienced my own IT hiccups along the way. My problems were solved almost instantly by our amazing IT specialists. For example, when my RingCentral line was not allowing me to make outgoing calls, our tech team was able to sort out the update quickly, so I didn’t miss an opportunity to make a reference call (and as a result, proceed with a candidate like you)!
The Benefits Of Working Remotely
Telepsychiatry offers flexibility in terms of hours and commuting, providing an escape from the confines and limitations of a traditional work environment. We handle the licensing and credentialing process in any state in the U.S., so you can work from anywhere (as long as your current residence is located in the USA or Puerto Rico).
As a result, time zones can work to your advantage. Perhaps you are someone who enjoys having your mornings free to run errands, working out at the gym, or spending time with your family. You have the flexibility to start your day later, or even earlier at 6:00 or 7:00 AM, in your current time zone. Wish you could end your day at 3:00 PM so you can pick up your kids from school? Telepsychiatry makes that dream a reality and gives you the freedom to choose your own schedule.
Being Part Of The Team
You might be working remotely, but you’re still part of the team. Our clinics recognize our telepsychiatry providers as an important piece of the puzzle and an integral part of their care team. They will recognize, and include you, as a provider as much as possible.
At Iris, we want you to feel like you have a work family. We have a Medical Director who you collaborate with remotely. He is your go-to resource, and you will meet with him at least once a quarter. Some of our clinics have more than one Iris provider, so you can make connections with fellow Iris team members as well as the clinic’s onsite staff. Communication is important, and this is compounded when you are working virtually. Since you are not physically there in the room with the patient, it’s important to be able to rely and convey what is needed to those who are involved on site. We help both you and the onsite staff to foster strong relationships built on a foundation of open and honest communication. As an Iris provider, you’re never alone, even though you might be far away – you have the support of dedicated Iris staff as well as the clinic’s team.
I Want To Work For Iris! Where Can I Apply?
We are always looking to expand our medical group with talented, passionate providers! Here’s a crazy statistic – we have hundreds of providers apply to work with us every week, and we only extend formal offers to six percent of applicants. If you consider yourself a self-starter, who is great at communicating and passionate about your work, we want to hear from you! We are searching for providers who are friendly, enjoy learning, and are flexible and adaptable.
You can find us on Indeed.com here. You can also apply directly on our website here. Also, you may email your resume/CV directly to email@example.com in either a Word Doc or PDF format (our system does not support opening resumes sent through Apple pages/note software). On your resume, please ensure that it lists your most current email address.
If you apply through Indeed.com, your personal email address does not appear unless it is listed so it’s helpful to include your cell phone number. We appreciate your interest in working with us, and want to make sure that we are able to reach out to 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!