Is Starting a Telehealth Practice Right for You and Your Clients?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, 37% of adults had used telehealth in the last 12 months.  While that number has likely decreased a bit as COVID protocols have relaxed and outbreaks have decreased, telehealth is clearly here to stay.  With the convenience and flexibility it offers to both practitioners and clients, it is no wonder that telehealth has firmly planted itself within the medical, mental, and behavioral health communities.  This article will discuss how to decide if starting a telehealth practice is the right choice for you and your clients.  If you are a provider who serves youth and families, then telehealth may be the next step in providing outstanding service to your clients.

Telehealth services can be an excellent way to serve a variety of clients.  Because youth are particularly “tech-savvy,” many of them may be more comfortable speaking to their mental/behavioral health practitioner via computer rather than in person.  Telehealth is also an excellent tool for those who have difficulty finding rides to appointments or have physical conditions making it difficult to be away from home.

PracticeWise has developed a resource to help you decide if starting a telehealth  practice is right for you and your clients.  This resource is designed to help you plan sessions, troubleshoot possible complications, and brainstorm ways to increase engagement in telehealth sessions.  It takes you through the process step-by-step so if you decide to start a telehealth practice, not only are you prepared, but you now have an excellent resource at your disposal.

Consider Your Client Base

Your client base will play a major role in your decision regarding beginning a telehealth practice or adding a telehealth option to your existing practice.  If you believe a solid percentage of your clients will benefit from telehealth, then it may be an excellent idea for your practice.  If you have not yet opened your practice and do not yet have a client base, then take into consideration the client base you intend to serve.

  • Are you serving teenagers who may be more comfortable meeting via computer rather than in person?
  • Are you serving under-served families who may not have access to a computer with a camera and adequate microphone?
  • Are you serving young people in crisis who may require immediate intervention or removal from their homes?
  • Are you serving young people who have a hard time getting to in-person appointments?

These are just a handful of questions to consider when deciding if telehealth is a viable option for your client base.  Our resource guide will discuss this more in-depth to help you make the best decision.

Consider the Technicalities

Nobody likes this part.  When you have a new idea that you believe will benefit your clients, it is hard to slow down and deal with the technical details.  You want to start helping as many young people as possible.  Before you dive into your new telehealth practice, stop and consider a few technicalities.

  • Does your state allow the practice of telehealth across state lines or would you have to be licensed in the other state?
  • Your state may have specific laws pertaining to telehealth practices, such as the age of consent to attend a telehealth meeting without supervision.
  • Does your liability insurance cover telehealth practices?
  • Do the insurance companies you are in-network with pay for telehealth services for their insured patients?
  • Can you afford to hire a person to handle technical issues (an IT person) or do you have the knowledge to deal with these issues yourself?

As the old saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”  Make sure you thoroughly research the technicalities that apply to your area of practice both in the field of practice and geography.

Consider Yourself

As a mental or behavioral health care provider, you know that self-care is essential to well-being.  It is not selfish to consider yourself.  It is actually selfless because you being at your best means that your clients are getting the best version of you which in turn helps them become the best version of themselves.

  • Do you feel that being in the same room affects your ability to read facial expressions, body language, and behavior? If so, you may prefer to remain in person only.
  • Do you feel that you can reach more people by offering telehealth? If reaching more people makes you happy, this is important to consider.
  • Is meeting via computer more comfortable for you, reducing your stress level?
  • Does the flexibility of telehealth appeal to you? For example, do you like the idea of still being able to meet with a client when you are out of town?

In this case, by considering yourself, you are also considering your clients and how you can best serve them.  A little self-assessment is all it takes to decide if being a telehealth provider fits you.

Summary

In deciding whether starting a telehealth practice is right for you, there are a few things to consider.  First, consider your client base.  If you believe many of them will benefit from telehealth services, then it may be the right choice for you.  Second, consider the technicalities.  The technical details regarding a telehealth practice are important in order for your practice, insurance payments, and technology to run smoothly.  Third, consider yourself.  You should consider being a telehealth provider if you feel that you will be comfortable, less stressed, and more available for your clients.

If you are ready to further investigate starting a telehealth practice or have already decided that it is the right move for you, then PracticeWise’s “Telehealth with Youth and Families” resource is exactly what you need to get started.  Check out our Telehealth Best Practices Guide.  With easy steps to follow and a handy checklist, you will have the guidance you need to begin your successful telehealth practice.  PracticeWise is here for you so that you can be there for your clients.

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