Should I Use Telehealth Technologies to Connect with Patients?
Telehealth technologies are on the rise. In fact, 71 percent of providers now use some form of the technology. These tools can easily connect patients with their physicians via phone, email or webcam, and in many cases physicians also use them to consult with peers.
Patients can manage their conditions at home by sending their physicians information like heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs.
Other Benefits of Telemedicine
According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine offers these additional benefits:
- Creates value for patients and providers
- Provides increased patient access
- Provides healthcare services to rural or underserved areas
- Provides high customer satisfaction
- Reduces cost
Is Telemedicine Right for My Practice?
You’ve got a brick-and-mortar practice, you see plenty of patients daily, why should you consider increasing your workload by adding virtual consultations and visits? Dr. Peter Antall at Physicians Practice notes you should consider these things if you’re on the fence about adding the technology to your practice or health system.
Get paid for things you used to do without charge. Think about it: How many hours per day do you spend answering patient portal questions or answering phone calls about follow-ups or new conditions? You can do this kind of patient outreach via video, have a more robust visit, examine the patient and get reimbursed for your time with telehealth.
Build loyalty and improve access to care. Instead of heading to the ER or an urgent care center in the wee hours of the night, a patient can connect with you via video, reducing unnecessary costs for the patient and building loyalty. (Instead of seeing an unfamiliar ER physician, for example, the patient can speak with you or another familiar member of your staff.) Your practice can also use telehealth technologies to work with an online medical partner to augment your services.
How to Get Your Peers on Board with Telehealth Technologies
Despite telemedicine’s benefits, some physicians are still reluctant to begin using the technology. If you’re considering adding the technology to your practice, or your hospital or health system is adopting it, the New England Journal of Medicine recommends physician leaders do the following.
Clearly communicate. Instead of giving your fellow physicians new guidelines to follow, explain to them how adopting telehealth tools will benefit patients. Share real patient stories and include real data if it’s available to you.
Consider the technology. Though helpful, the wrong electronic health record technology can be cumbersome for physicians, causing them to spend more time updating and learning to use the technology than actually seeing patients. The same holds true for the wrong telehealth technology. Choose a technology that doesn’t slow physicians down. Look for a technology that offers single-click functions and provide adequate training before launching.
Consider workload. Have the necessary staff on hand to assist during telehealth visits and allow time for physicians to communicate their needs and workload concerns to you.
Telemedicine use is growing and will continue to do so as technology advances and patients seek more immediate, secure health options. Adding the right telemedicine technology to your practice or health system can keep you at the forefront of your patients’ minds.