Telehealth is on the rise. In fact, it may be the faster growing area in healthcare today. Recent surveys of telehealth executives show that more than half have already implemented telehealth in some capacity and most that haven’t see it as a priority. If you’re among those who have, you understand how telehealth can improve healthcare, but are you seeing the results you expected when you made the investment in your telehealth solution?
If you’re not seeing quite the return you expected, there may be several reasons.
Most studies suggest patients are open to the idea of virtual care and the majority of those that have used telehealth services would do it again. For many, the obstacle to convincing patients to use video instead of an in-office visit is simply awareness – they don’t know their providers offer telehealth, they don’t know how to use it, or they don’t realize they can get the same care as they would in the clinic. Patients need to be educated on about video consultations, remote patient monitoring, and other available telehealth services, including scheduling and participation. Make sure you have included patient marketing in your overall telehealth project.
Security and privacy concerns
Rightfully, patients are concerned about what happens to their personal data, including health information, especially when it’s sent over the internet. Here’s another situation where information can drive use. Internally, you have made sure your system and processes are secure and compliant; take the time to let your patients know as well. While you are engaging with them about the telehealth services at their disposal, make sure they are aware you have made security and data privacy a top priority.
Greater Systemwide ROI
Early telehealth use has focused on minor acute illness diagnoses. It’s a logical stepping off point for both providers and patients, particularly as both sides get used to the idea of telemedicine. These virtual visits are certainly more convenient and efficient than a trip to a physician’s office or urgent care clinic. But, more significant system-wide benefits are going to be achieved by expanding telehealth to wider uses cases, including faster access to specialists, adding chronic care and remote patient monitoring and other use cases where telehealth can significantly reduce repeat visits and admission procedures. Expanding your telehealth practice to include more services can add value and adoption of your telehealth services. As you grow, new services should be added to your patient marketing exercises.
Adoption curves are typically preceded by learning curves. Even before you educate your patients on your telehealth capabilities, make sure your doctors know how to use them. Often, new technology is installed with an assumption that users can figure it out. To ensure patient satisfaction, caregivers must be as knowledgeable about delivering telehealth services as they are giving in-clinic care. This goes beyond the basics of connectivity and logging into your telehealth system, to the specifics of migrating different healthcare services to telehealth environments. In addition, doctors must understand the sneed to create a new trusted relationship with their telehealth patients. While developing a good “webside manner” may not be as easy as the traditional bedside manner, it is critical to the growth of your program.
The digitalization of healthcare creates an opportunity for process efficiencies never before possible thanks to the integration of CRM, communications and other systems with your healthcare platform. Collectively, they should create a seamless experience between patients, practitioners, devices and payers. If you haven’t integrated your end-to-end processes, you are missing out on an opportunity to not only deliver a better patient experience, but to create more efficient and accurate procedures internally and free staff to tend to patient needs more quickly.
While patients tend to be open to the idea of virtual care, many are unsure whether their medical insurance covers telehealth visits or to what extent. While you as the provider aren’t responsible for defining coverage, you can help your patients understand what is covered or where to get that information. As more regulation is put in place to increase coverage of telehealth services, making sure your patients know where to get that information will encourage them to use your services.
Building a successful telehealth service requires a combination of planning, technology, and continued education. It’s not as simple as plug and play. In order to increase its use, you have to make sure your technology is properly integrated with your practice, your staff know how to use it, and your patients are aware of it. Even then, you should be constantly reviewing ways to further enhance your solution to identify new opportunities.
To find out more about how to build and grow your telehealth practice, click here.