September 02, 2021
4 min read
The American Board of Telehealth has launched a Teleprimary Care Certificate program to help health care providers better utilize telehealth in their practices, according to a recent press release.
The program is a self-paced online course for physicians, advanced practice providers, psychologists, nurses, clinical social workers, resident physicians and administration. No prerequisites are required to enroll, and the program can be completed in an estimated 6 hours, according to the program details.
Healio Primary Care spoke with Whitney Flanagan, MBA, RN-BC, director of education for the American Board of Telehealth, to learn more about the certificate program and the importance of telehealth.
Healio Primary Care: What are the highlights of the certificate program?
Flanagan: The curriculum is focused on giving knowledge and skills for those in the primary care setting to provide excellent patient care via telehealth. It has content related to clinical practice, like physical examinations over camera and documentation, but it also goes into more operational considerations and protocols to create an efficient telehealth workflow that supports productivity while maintaining a high standard of care. The program consists of five modules: introduction; operations, workflow and productivity; legal, regulatory and ethical considerations; telepresence; and clinical application.
While creating the course materials, we completed an extensive literature review and worked closely with subject matter experts from across the nation to put those materials together.
Healio Primary Care: How would you define telehealth?
Flanagan: There are four modalities of telehealth: synchronous, asynchronous, remote patient monitoring and mobile health. Our program focuses a lot on synchronous audio and video communication with the patient, but we also address some of those other modalities like asynchronous or remote patient monitoring and mobile health capabilities.
Healio Primary Care: Do you address the topic of information security with telehealth in the course?
Flanagan: The certificate course addresses information about security within telehealth in a couple of the modules from a security of technology as well as a privacy and confidentiality of environment standpoint. The content covers HIPAA standards, recommendations for prevention and response to security issues, environmental considerations for privacy as well as privacy, security and confidentiality considerations for providers working remotely.
Healio Primary Care: Should this program be repeated each year?
Flanagan: We know telehealth is evolving at an extremely fast pace. When the American Board of Telehealth builds courses, we have a review, feedback and updating process built into our content creation in order to continue to keep those courses green; that includes a continual review process by practicing clinicians in the field. We don’t have a formal recommendation to complete the certificate education on an annual or regular basis, but the American Board of Telehealth does plan to continue to build out a robust library of educational offerings, programs and courses related to telehealth in order for clinicians to keep building and updating that knowledge, skill and practice.
Healio Primary Care: How important is telehealth for delivery and access to care?
Flanagan: Telehealth can be utilized to provide the right care at the right time at the right place. The pandemic really showed us this, and now that consumers know and are more accepting of it, I don’t believe they’ll ever let it go back to the way it was. I think the consumerism will continue to demand technology use and integration. There continues to be changes on the policy and regulatory side that will continue to bring telehealth to the forefront, as well.
Healio Primary Care: What are the key challenges and benefits of using telehealth?
Flanagan: There are a lot of opportunities in telehealth, and it has a ton of benefits that are starting to gain more literature support demonstrating those benefits. There are so many different modalities, specialties and geographic locations that can use telehealth. It can really increase access to care, consumer convenience, compliance with health care outcomes and, depending on the type of telehealth that’s being utilized, it can also decrease professional isolation in geographically rural areas.
That being said, there are some challenges. Some of those are in a state of transition due to regulatory waivers and legislation, but I still believe they’re worth noting. Things like reimbursement parity, licensure credentialing and regulatory barriers like prescribing could all be noted as challenges in telehealth. The costs associated with building a technology infrastructure for telehealth service is believed to be a big challenge as well.
Specifically, in primary care, an opportunity and challenge is long-term sustainability of telehealth services that were probably put together quickly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Are they efficient and productive in how they were put together, or do those pieces of the telehealth service that were quickly implemented need to be reconsidered or reevaluated through a new lens of long-term sustainability and productivity?
Healio Primary Care: What do you think the future of telehealth will look like?
I think that health care innovation and technology will continue to integrate into mainstream. I think about wearable technologies, sensors, mobile applications, and all these different types of technology that can help us with different health data elements or streamlined interactions with health care professionals and a personalized health care approach. That will only continue, and I believe there will be an expectation from the consumer that those technologies be integrated seamlessly into their health care experience, just like consumers integrate them seamlessly into their daily life. It’s thinking about in-person care and telehealth not as adversaries, but rather as complements of each other. The future of health care is finding ways to create workflows that integrate in-person care and telehealth into a seamless approach to patient care.
American Board of Telehealth. New! Teleprimary care certificate course. https://www.americanboardoftelehealth.org/education-resources/teleprimary-care-certificate-program/. Accessed August 24, 2021.
American Board of Telehealth. New telehealth certificate helps primary care providers make the most of online care. https://www.americanboardoftelehealth.org/media-center/new-telehealth-certificate-helps-primary-care-providers-make-the-most-of-online-care/. Accessed August 24, 2021.