Insights Blog

By QLK Team
on Oct 15, 2020
  • Healthcare | Blog
The New Normal: Telehealth and Leadership

One of the more fascinating facts about the now prominent telehealth industry is that the technology has been around for decades. In the early 2000s, this form of healthcare was prevalent in rural areas where receiving in-person care was laden with obstacles.

Of course, even the most densely populated cities have many reasons to not attend in-person appointments in today's climate.

However, like most market-disrupting technologies, telehealth became a necessity before people realized its incredible value.

Enter COVID-19.

While some healthcare still must be provided in person, telehealth bridges the gap to remove unnecessary trips to the doctor or hospital. With the pandemic, this benefit is uniquely useful. All the same, Pandora's proverbial box is open, and the tech is likely here to stay.

Undoubtedly, when coronavirus eventually dies down, people won't be as reliant on telehealth as they are now. Regardless, they'll have realized through this experience that not all medical situations require in-person healthcare.

Telehealth was Gaining Momentum Before COVID-19

Again, it's worth reiterating that the global crisis contributed to telehealth's fast-tracking to the mainstream. But these technologies and treatment methods were making waves as part of a more comprehensive healthcare approach throughout many organizations.

Telehealth was lying in wait, ready to take the industry by storm. Then, when the pandemic shook the world to its core, clinical care providers didn't have a hard time buying in. This notion rings true even for professionals that previously had their doubts.

The fact that regulatory and reimbursement obstacles have been mitigated has initiated the perfect storm for wide-scale telehealth technological launches.

Now, when the pandemic reaches its conclusion, most healthcare providers will be equipped to provide more rapid, customizable care to a broader range of patients.

What is the Current Focus of Telehealth?

Healthcare organizations must currently center their efforts around scaling up their telehealth services to meet the current unprecedented demand.

Many companies in US healthcare have adopted updated technology. It's being encouraged to do so at the federal level with mandates, funding, and regulations.

These circumstances have led to rapid development and adoption, which will cause one key benefit:

When everything calms down, the framework will be in place for flexible scaling. Care providers can analyze the demand once it's safer to make an in-person visit. They can then scale the technology – up or down – to meet the preferences of their market.

Which Leaders and Executives Should Spearhead Telehealth Initiatives?

No organization can adapt and grow when executives and other critical decision-makers don't have their fingers on the pulse.

In healthcare, leaders must be on top of the latest trends and prepared to pivot toward the most advanced, highest-functioning telehealth tools. Moreover, primary decision-makers must be ready to evolve almost instantaneously.

A prevalent challenge in 2020 is the current landscape's unprecedented nature.
Beyond that, there's no blueprint or previous framework that can be referenced regarding telehealth.

What does that mean for healthcare organizations?

There's nothing set in stone for who's charged with leading telehealth initiatives. Depending on the company, one of the following leadership positions might be responsible for implementing this tech:

  • CIO
  • Chief Digital Officer
  • CMIO
  • COO
  • CMO
  • VP, Telehealth, or Chief Telehealth Officer

How Do These Leaders Successfully Implement and Leverage Telehealth Services?

Any executive, manager, or leader steering the telehealth ship must coordinate IT/digital with clinical and business procedures. This ensures harmony and cohesion across all organizational facets, avoiding disparity and confusion between departments.

These leaders must also focus on creating a straightforward, streamlined experience for healthcare providers and patients. Thus, effective training programs and initiatives must be honed and crafted.

The most innovative and progressive health systems have the right leaders in place. Such individuals possess the versatile skill set that intertwines multi-departmental expertise. Those filling leadership roles grasp the fundamental challenges they're facing – this allows them to provide solutions that improve overall access to care.

What Qualifications Are Required for Leaders in Telehealth?

Depending on the philosophies of a given organization, the ideal candidate profile for a telehealth leadership position varies greatly.

Some businesses could want someone with an operations background. Whereas other companies might vie for an IT powerhouse. Alternatively, other healthcare organizations would potentially benefit from hiring someone with a more clinically based resume.

No matter the telehealth leader's background, they should have a track record rooted in implementing and spearheading telehealth initiatives.

Here are a few more integral traits and responsibilities associated with a telehealth leadership candidate:

  • They should be exceptional collaborators:
    • Telehealth leaders must work alongside internal and external business partners in establishing a vision, processes, and deliverables.
  • These individuals must implement a telehealth structure:
    • There's a need to have a keen eye for the most efficient work processes that bolster patients' experiences.
  • Eliminating costs and redundancies is another integral facet.

Now, here's a list of potential backgrounds for successful telehealth leaders:

  • Healthcare innovation
  • Healthcare strategy
  • Change management
  • Process improvement
  • Technology integration
  • Project management

Preferably, a candidate would have a background in more than one of these disciplines.

How Can Your Healthcare Organization Hire the Ideal Telehealth Leader?

Implementing telehealth technology will dictate the success and service quality for all healthcare companies in the present and future.

The value in hiring the most qualified candidate couldn't possibly be overstated. Leading a telehealth initiative requires high-level expertise possessed by few and far between.

At QLK, we have access to a diverse talent pool. In that crowd could be your next telehealth leader. All you need to do is contact us today to get the recruiting process underway.