At the peak of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, telehealth services proved to be immensely beneficial for patients and providers alike by increasing access to critical services and reducing the spread of the virus. Now that vaccines have become more widely accessible, and the threats posed by COVID-19 have grown more manageable, healthcare professionals, especially those in specialized institutions like skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), recognize that the benefits offered by telehealth are worthwhile investments not only in the case of widespread disasters but also for general practice.

In order to effectively implement telehealth at your SNF, education and evolution are key. By properly training staff members and executives, making informed decisions about integration, and generally embracing change as it comes, SNFs can become better equipped for the future through expanded access to quality care, improved patient relations, and advanced care options.

Training Staff to be Knowledgeable, Adaptable, and Resilient

Telehealth can be an advantage for your SNF, but making the most of this modern technology requires comprehensive education. If your staff does not understand how, when, or why they should use the new technology, implementing telehealth will be futile. An often-neglected part of telehealth integration in specialized facilities involves the investment in staff education and failing to dedicate an appropriate amount of time and energy to training, supporting, and encouraging staff in telehealth integration and use can result in wasted efforts, low morale, and ineffective implementation.

Effective telehealth training should be spread out to avoid information overload, and facility leaders should devote time to answering questions and alleviating fears or anxieties during these training sessions, as well. Addressing the function and benefit of telehealth in everyday routines, as well as emergencies can contextualize the major shift of technological integration, making the transition easier to process and accept.

Making Suitable Telehealth Decisions

When deciding to integrate telehealth into your SNF, you will need to make several decisions to facilitate the shift. Three of the most critical decisions you will need to make include the provider you work with, the technology you adopt, and the infrastructure of your telehealth system. Additionally, you will need to revise existing guidelines, practices, and models to include or work around your new offerings.

Partnering with a telehealth provider is important to ensuring that offering telehealth services functions properly; that is to say, telehealth should help alleviate stress and support operations for staff. Choosing a suitable provider, such as one that offers on-demand services and possesses appropriate credentials, can make this initiative feasible and limit unnecessary strain on SNF staff.

When choosing technology to integrate, being selective and minimalist at first can reduce stress and promote efficiency. For SNFs, technology that can be used to monitor vital signs in real time is among the most valuable, but each facility should consider the technology available as well as their specific needs, as well.

To support the implementation of telehealth, SNFs must have the right infrastructure, including reliable broadband connectivity and sufficient bandwidth. Ensuring all relevant rooms, equipment, and staff can manage tasks and use new technology effectively is critical to the function of telehealth integration. Above all else, adopting an optimistic and forward-thinking attitude is crucial for the integration of telehealth services.

Successful telehealth implementation requires creative solutions, problem-solving, resilience, and time. Keeping staff educated and making informed decisions about how to effectively integrate telehealth into your SNF can reduce the stress involved with drastic change while also promoting the informed use of the new technology.