Caitlin Clement|9/30/2022|5 min read

9 Mistakes Telehealth Companies Should Avoid

For new and established telehealth companies, these are nine mistakes you should avoid

9 mistakes telehealth companies make and what to do instead

The telehealth industry is still in its infancy and as more digital health companies join the fold, it's important to start strong and make sure you’re adhering to regulatory and compliance standards.

OpenLoop has helped both new and more established telehealth companies scale and grow their virtual care throughout the last few years. In that time, we started noticing patterns in the areas they were struggling with—each stemming from similar issues. In this blog, we’ll lay out the 9 common mistakes we see digital health companies make and what to do instead.

1. Not investing enough in your go-to-market (GTM) strategy

We promise you, it’s worth spending more time in the beginning so you don’t have to spend even more fixing issues later on.

But what is a GTM strategy? It’s how a company is going to bring a product, or service, to a designated market. It’s often linked closely to the business plan and marketing strategies, but is product specific. Key things to define are:

  • What the offering is

  • Who the customers are

  • How you are going to reach your target audience

At OpenLoop, we recommend that digital health companies spend about 70% of their budget on their GTM strategy and 30% on internal back-end operations.

Another important thing to note is that venture capitalists, or investors, often use a company’s GTM strategy as a way to gauge a product's potential success. They then use this when considering whether to invest and how much. A good GTM strategy could equal more venture capital.

Check out our whitepaper “How to Launch and Scale your Telehealth Business” for a more detailed look at what it takes to launch and scale successfully.

2. Not having multiple rounds of pilot and beta testing before launch

Test your technology, and do it more than once. Pilot and beta testing is super important when bringing a new product or service to the market. In the case of telehealth, and the current HIPAA regulations that come with it, multiple rounds of testing should be a priority.

Not only will it help you find any bugs or usability errors in your patient journey, it’ll make certain your platform is secure and compliant. Protected Health Information (PHI) requires a secure EHR platform to keep patient information safe. Simply testing it once could leave potential security and usability issues unresolved, creating problems down the road.

3. Not prioritizing relationships with diagnostic labs

Partnering with diagnostic labs is crucial in providing timely point-of-care testing and digital diagnostic services. Think of it as another tool in your virtual care toolbox built to support better patient outcomes. It’s also a lot more cost-effective than having to organize and manage your own diagnostics and testing in-house.

Additionally, by partnering with lab companies, it’s easier to ensure that each state’s unique regulations are being met by your network of prescribers.

4. Trying to win payer contracts with a small clinician network

A smaller clinician network means limited negotiating power when applying to enter into a payer contract. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do internally to expand your network of payers faster without draining the pockets of your patients and providers. Less reimbursement for services means more coming out of the pockets of patients.

Patience is key here. If you’re set on keeping things internal, spend time building your clinician network with vetted, diverse providers and enroll in more payer contracts when it makes sense. Or, you can outsource and tap into a partner with a vast network already ready.

For a more in depth look at the payer enrollment process and timelines, check out our whitepaper “A Guide to Payer Enrollment for Telehealth Companies”.

5. Launching in too many states too soon

Expanding your patient network nationwide is a great goal, but as you start out, you may need to narrow your scope a bit. Each state has its own set of regulations and coverage regarding virtual care. As a result, it can be hard to manage your clinician network efficiently and set up the right PC groups in order to legally practice there.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure you have the infrastructure in place to manage a clinician network of a larger size efficiently. This involves making sure they are educated on the rules and regulations of the states they are licensed in, medications they prescribe and have a firm grasp on your internal processes and documentation.

Outsourcing clinicians and networks is also an option. Tapping into pre-vetted, expert providers takes out the initial investment you would need in building your own network. Allowing you to focus on providing excellent patient care.

6. Not taking the time to compare different EHR platforms (if outsourcing)

Not all EHR platforms are built alike so it’s important that you do your research when picking one. The cheapest option does not always bring the greatest long term ROIs, especially when it's handling the flow of private patient information. Security and user experience should be top of mind when looking at EHR platforms.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when vetting EHR platforms:

  • Can it be customized to fit your company's brand, message and process?

  • Does it have room to scale?

  • Are there HIPAA functionalities built into the platform?

  • What does the patient journey look like?

  • What is the timeline to launch?

7. Lack of qualified, prescribing clinicians

Who you fill your clinician network with is more important than the amount of clinicians in your network. We know, this slightly conflicts with the payer coverage section above. However, it can actually be better to show a payer a more diverse network when enrolling in coverage. Oftentimes, they will reject an application simply because they already have too many of a specific provider in their network.

Filling your network with qualified specialists and prescribers will also offer a better patient experience. Connecting a patient to the right provider sooner is going to set them up for a better outcome and faster possible diagnosis and treatment plan. Limiting the amount of back-and-forth between clinicians.

8. Not diligently vetting clinicians during credentialing

This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s on this list for a reason. In the haste of building up a large clinician network, some telehealth companies may not vet their clinicians as diligently as they should. The credentialing process takes time, but it’s important that digital health companies don’t rush it.

Putting an unqualified provider in front of your patients is not only not a good look for your company, it affects the telehealth industry as a whole. Bringing it back around to payers, credentialing is also a major step in the payer enrollment process. If you're looking to add your clinicians onto a payer contract, having highly-qualified providers in-network is going to increase your chances of being accepted.

9. Lack of clinician education on prescribed medications

The current opioid crisis spurred on by careless prescribing and the fee-for-service care model makes this an important one. Make it a priority within your organization to educate your clinicians on the medications they prescribe.

Taking the time to adopt more value-based care practices could be a good place to start. Some telehealth companies have even prohibited their virtual network providers from prescribing opioids entirely in order to combat the crisis. While this may not be the best course of action for your company, sit down with your team and come up with an education plan. Ask yourselves, how are we going to make sure our prescribers are prescribing safely?

Powering new and established telehealth companies

It’s great that you're looking for a way to improve your company's telehealth services! We’re glad you’re here. OpenLoop, a full stack telehealth support company, works with companies like yours to grow and scale their virtual care delivery. Our full suite of support services are built to be fully customizable as well as supported by a team of experts every step of the way.

Interested in what our services can offer your organization? Get in touch here!

Our full suite of Telehealth Support Services include:

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