What to Ask When Selecting a Telepsychiatry Vendor

While navigating the fast-growing and rapidly evolving telepsychiatry sector, you want to partner with a vendor you can trust to work toward the long-term wellbeing of both your organization and your patients.

As various challenges and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue, the need for access to quality mental health care services has never been more urgent or clear. Yet patients today struggle to find quality, accessible, and affordable mental health care services and providers.

Part of the problem lies with opportunistic or fly-by-night vendors that hope to gain financially from the growing need for telepsychiatry. At the same time, many of these companies offer subpar care in a time of dire need or tend not to concern themselves with continuity or to build long-term relationships.

When searching for the most effective and patient-focused telepsychiatry vendor to partner with, ask yourself these questions while considering your selection.

1. General Company Information

Your due diligence process more than likely begins with researching basic company information about potential vendors. But with the recent exponential growth of telemedicine, this data has perhaps never been more important, relevant, or telling in the vendor selection process.

Questions to Consider:

  • How many dedicated employees?
  • Please include the entire organizational chart broken down by department, person & title.
  • How many psychiatrists applied with your organization in the last 52 calendar weeks?
  • Please include 5-6 accounts for references.
  • How long have you been working with the account?
  • Number of active accounts that provide similar services?
  • Number of clinicians?
  • How many are W2 employees versus 1099 contractors? 
  • Does the company have experience licensing providers through IMLC and ENLC?

Knowing some of this more detailed company information can save you time and energy spent on companies that don’t offer quality or continuity of care. For example, a telepsychiatry vendor with only two or three employees or that mainly employs 1099 contractors as opposed to W2 providers may not offer the same level of quality provider access or compassionate care that you and your patients deserve.

2. Quality Control and Assurance

You want to partner with a telepsychiatry vendor that offers and guarantees the quality of mental health care services provided to your patients. The question is how to be sure of this before signing on the dotted line. One option is to consider recognized third-party accreditations and other fundamental aspects of the vendor’s business model and priorities.

Questions to Consider:

  • Is the company Joint Commission-accredited for behavioral health? 
  • Does the company have experience meeting HEDIS measures or other quality benchmarks?
  • Are they providing employees or 1099?
  • Is the company physician-led & clinically driven? 

Being Joint Commission-accredited, for example, enables you to credential more quickly and offers assurance that your organization will receive a quality product. Also, a physician-led vendor like Iris Telehealth may have different interests and priorities than other vendors, many of which are private equity-owned.

3. Implementation

Implementing telepsychiatry and successfully weaving it into your organization’s workflow takes the vendor’s focused time, effort, and care about your practice, providers, and patients. Getting specifics on this is crucial to getting your service up and running successfully.

Questions to Consider:

  • Does the vendor develop custom workflows?
  • Will the providers use your EMR for notes?
  • Does the provider require additional proprietary software/hardware purchase?
4. Goals & Metrics

You want to work with a telepsychiatry vendor that is aligned with and supports your practice’s goals and metrics. This ensures better accountability and encourages momentum as your telepsychiatry practice grows. At the same time, you have more concrete ways to monitor your telepsychiatry implementation plan and your working relationship with the selected vendor.

Questions to Consider:

  • Will they develop/track custom metrics?
  • Will the provider offer education, training resources, order sets, and helpful tools?
  • How are service issues addressed?

When we at Iris Telehealth partner with someone, we aim to develop a long-term relationship with those clinics, hospitals, and mental health providers we support. We are also confident in our ability to meet your needs and deliver on expectations as you check off each box off of your vendor selection criteria list. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.