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Tips for Successful Telehealth Services in SNFs

Tips for Facilities for Telehealth Success

Jennifer Birdsall, Skilled Nursing News

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(1) Invest in quality WiFi throughout the facility. One hundred percent of CHE providers interviewed stated spotty, weak, and unreliable WiFi was the biggest culprit of Telehealth failures.

(2) Use a stand for the device, and even better, a dedicated rolling cart for the Telehealth equipment. A stand does not require the patient to hold the device, which is better for infection control. It also prevents patient fatigue, accidental disruptions to the session, etc.

(3) Do not forget to plug in and recharge the device! Forgetting this essential step is a common culprit of missed treatment sessions. Consider having a home base docking station for the device near an outlet. 

(4) Turn off the TV and close the door. Nursing home staff have become habituated to background television noise and therefore, may not consider turning it off. Unfortunately, background television noise or commotion from the hallway make it hard for the provider and patient to hear each other and is distracting to the patient.

(5) Tape a “Doctor Visit in Session” sign on the patient’s door during the telehealth session. Otherwise, facility staff will enter the room and begin providing care or room service. This will be disruptive to the treatment session. 

(6) Set a weekly schedule for psychology/psychiatry (or other disciplines) telehealth services. Without a schedule, facility staff liaisons were more inconsistent with follow-through.  When scheduled, this became a part of the expected work routine.   

(7) Identify several staff members who can assist with Telehealth service delivery. This is especially true during an unpredictable situation like the COVID-19 pandemic. At times, the “one” identified facility liaison may unexpectedly call off, be quarantined, or be rescheduled to a different shift or work assignment last minute. By having a group of staff available to assist with Telehealth helps ensure the scheduled appointments will not be canceled last minute.

(8) Think outside the box when it comes to telehealth staff support. While most facilities used the social services director or assistants, others utilized activities staff, members of the admission and business office, or other helpful personnel.

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