In our previous blog posts on ‘How to Implement Tele-Audiology in your Practice’ and ‘The Right Tools for Teleaudiology’ we covered the fundamental aspects of this concept. But an important facet of any ehealth or tele-audiology project that will ultimately dictate the success of your practice is the strategy employed.
No NFL football team would take the risk of stepping out onto that field without a solid game plan. Similarly, no healthcare professional should start a tele-health practice without a dependable implementation strategy. With that said, let’s jump straight into the basic aspects of a successful tele-audiology implementation plan.
Create a comprehensive Practice Plan
As much as a medical practice is a healthcare institution it is fundamentally a business which needs a comprehensive business plan, or in this case, a practice plan to succeed. In a nutshell, your practices’ business plan needs to clearly outline your goals and how you plan to achieve them. It forms the road-map of your business, clearly defining where you need to go and how you plan to get there.
Some of the principal points to include in your practice plan are:
An Overview & General Practice Description
In this section, you can plainly summarize the overview of your tele-audiology practice including your mission or mandate as well as the goals you intend to achieve. You can also outline your general practice description, giving a clear explanation of telehealth/telemedicine and how your practice is adopting the core principles of these concepts. This will also help you to decide on the right tools for your tele-audiology practice.
A Market/Industry Analysis
Although a tele-audiology practice isn’t your typical business, the same principles that apply to conventional businesses are applicable too. Your market analysis would include your market overview, or in this case your patient group overview. This would need to clearly define the patient groups you are targeting, for example, the elderly, children or adults etc. You could also specify if you are targeting a particular socio-economic patient group that doesn’t have access to the much-needed care you intend to provide.
A Marketing Plan
A marketing plan will outline the products or services you will provide, along with the pricing as well as the way you intend to promote your practice. The services you could provide were outlined in our previous post which included services such as video otoscopy, hearing screening, diagnostic pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry, tympanometry etc.. The proposed pricing of each of your services also needs to be noted in the context of the patient groups you intend to serve. And lastly, a detailed promotional plan on how you will get the word out to the relevant people through advertising should also form part of this section. You would need to keep in mind, however, the applicable rules and regulations specified by the relevant health associations on the ‘do’s and don’t’ of marketing your practice.
An Operational Plan
This is probably one of the most important aspects of your practice that needs to be as explicit as possible. Having to run a practice in one location is challenging enough, but having to run a practice in two or multiple locations could prove to be more complicated if the right steps aren’t followed.
Your operational plan would need to include a key operational process which outlines the day-to-day activities for your practice. This includes, but is not limited to, the administration department or whoever will handle all the admin of booking patients, scheduling follow-ups etc.. The clinical workflow from who will perform the otoscopy, the hearing tests as well as how the counselling and management will be done. An easy to follow step-by-step workflow from when the patient enters to when they leave would need to be outlined at each remote clinic and should run in synchrony with the main clinic hub.
A financial plan
Your financial plan would need to be detailed and specific, especially if you intend on seeking funding from investors. You would need to highlight how you will generate revenue whether it is through cash consultations or billing from medical aids etc.. Should you intend to seek funding, clearly stipulate the amount and what the money will be used for. This should be detailed enough for any potential investor to have confidence in providing the much needed financial aid.
The points below are a mere guideline and your practice plan could end up having more sections than those outlined above. Perform a SWOT analysis for your practice/clinic and be as realistic as possible when outlining each area.
Lastly, develop an evaluation and quality improvement plan, to ensure that your practice always runs in excellence. A wise man once said, ‘Delegation without inspection is an abomination’. This may sounds quite jarring but the fact of the matter is ‘people do what you inspect, not what you expect’, so measures to evaluate the processes and plans to improve them is key to the overall success of your business. Monitor the day-to-day operations of your practice on a regular basis. Have a strong communication strategy between the main hub as well as all the remote clinic site ensuring that everyone speaks with one voice.
We wish you the best of luck as you embark on this journey of taking hearing healthcare to those who need it most.
If we are to beat the scourge of hearing loss, we are better doing it together. As the saying goes, ‘If you want to fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.’