Telemedicine collaborations, whether between technology companies and providers, health systems and patients, or other creative partnerships we have yet to see in the industry, can present numerous benefits to our healthcare delivery system and patient outcomes. However, such collaborations present a variety of regulatory, logistical and operational concerns that should be strategically addressed from the ideation stage of the collaboration onward.
The strategy behind the collaboration should be developed with an eye towards the duration of the relationship and the development of mutually beneficial goals and objectives that are clear and measurable. Each party should be transparent about their capabilities and strategic vision at the outset of the collaboration talks to avoid any surprises or disappointments deeper in the future. Questions for potential collaboration partners include:
- Is this an experimental partnership or a long-term plan?
- What do I bring to the table? How can this partner supplement or support my capabilities?
- How will this relationship be branded and marketed? Do I need greater visibility than my partner, or will we come together under a new brand?
- Do we have the IT infrastructure and vendor relationships in place to execute this collaboration? If not, how will secure what we need?
- Do we have the resources to meet the regulatory requirements of the partnership?
- How will we measure the success or failure of the collaboration?
Considerations in the RFP Stage
After the initial strategy discussions have taken place, the proposal period raises its own series of considerations. After ensuring that the arrangement proposed can address the goals and objectives of the collaboration, regulatory and transactional issues take center stage. Rights and responsibilities of each party, reporting and compliance mechanisms, fees, credentialing, licensing and privacy compliance and liability issues, to name a few concerns, are addressed at this point in the process. Fees structures and compliance with the evolving federal and state laws regulating telemedicine providers are particularly complex issues that should be addressed at this point.
Questions to address regarding fees include: