Telemedicine has soared in popularity as more consumers have begun demanding easier, more convenient access to medical care. And as a result, medical practices across the country have been scrambling to comply. For years, telehealth options have been used for remote monitoring in rural areas and in patients with chronic conditions. But only during the past decade or so has the technology expanded to offer doctor appointments in the virtual space, without the need for an in-person office visit.
If you haven’t incorporated telemedicine into your practice, you might be wondering if it’s worth it. And for just about every practice, the answer is a resounding “yes.” But if you’re still not sure, here are four ways in which implementing telemedicine services in your practice can help you deliver a better patient experience.
Telemedicine saves patients time — and money
Convenience is a huge plus for patients of all ages, and especially for patients with families and anyone who’s still working. With telemedicine, patients don’t need to worry about taking time off from work or school. Visits can be scheduled during lunch hours or before or after school or work, depending on your hours and availability. That means patients save on time as well as transportation costs. And for patients with young children or aging parents, it can also mean savings on childcare or eldercare costs.
Telemedicine also means no hanging around in waiting rooms — a big pet peeve for lots of patients. Patients place a lot of value on the quality time they spend with their doctor — that is, the time they have to talk directly with the physician. Telemedicine strips away the frustrations of a long wait time, letting you focus on that all-important one-on-one time.
It makes care more accessible
Speaking of saving on transportation, telemedicine also makes care a lot more accessible to people in more remote or rural areas, as well as patients who don’t have ready access to a car or other transportation. When care is more accessible, it’s easier for patients to get the preventive and proactive care they need to avoid illness and manage chronic conditions. That’s great for patients’ health, of course. But it’s also a lot easier for physicians to provide the best possible care, for both acute and chronic illness.
Telemedicine promotes easier and faster Follow-Ups
Research shows that for some elective surgeries, telemedicine provides a viable alternative to in-office follow-up visits, offering similar outcomes as in-person follow-up visits for many groups of patients. Obviously, you can’t have staples or sutures removed via telemedicine, but for more general follow-up, telemedicine earned high marks in patient satisfaction, according to this review.
For “regular” (i.e., non-postop) patients, avoiding an office visit means less exposure to germs from patients with the flu, colds, and other contagious illnesses, which in turn can help them stay healthier.
Patients like it
Implementing anything new can always be nerve-racking when you’re not sure if patients will accept and adapt that new thing. But with telemedicine, the patients have already spoken — they want and like telemedicine. That means implementing it in your practice is almost a no-brainer. How much do patients like it? Here are just a couple of surveys that show clearly how popular telehealth is for today’s patients:
- This survey of patients who’ve used telemedicine found that about 70 percent of those patients rated their experiences at either a nine or a 10 on a 10-point scale. For those rating less than nine, the researchers said nearly all lower scores were due to a technical glitch that was resolved prior to the end of the visit. Despite those minor technical hiccups, 62 percent of the survey respondents said the quality of care they received during their telemedicine visit was the same quality of care they received during an in-person office visit, and one-fifth said the quality of care was actually better with telemedicine.
- What about patients who haven’t tried telemedicine? As it turns out, it’s not because they’re worried or concerned about the quality of security; it’s more about not having access to a telehealth system. In fact, in one survey, about three-quarters of patients who have not tried telehealth said they’d like to use a telemedicine option instead of an in-person visit if it were available.
What does that mean for your practice?
So what if patients like telemedicine? Numerous studies show that when patients are satisfied with their healthcare experience, they’re more likely to remain loyal to their physician and more likely to provide positive reviews and referrals. That’s especially true among younger patients. Word-of-mouth recommendations are like gold when it comes to building your practice’s brand, authority, and trust. Simply by offering telemedicine as an option, you show you’re in tune with your patients’ needs and preferences and position your practice as one that’s caring and forward-thinking.
Getting started is easier than you think
So let’s recap: Telemedicine has the potential to:
- save patients time and money;
- make healthcare more convenient;
- improve patient outcomes; and,
- increase patient satisfaction.
Those are four powerful benefits, all focused on improving the quality of care and the quality of the healthcare experience. With so much to offer, why don’t all practice offer telemedicine for their patients? A lot of it has to do with reluctance on the part of physicians. Many physicians are unwilling to give up any in-person visits with patients, partly because they worry telemedicine will cut into their revenue. The fact is, telemedicine is offered as an “add-on” to in-person services; the two complement each other rather than being mutually exclusive. Many physicians also worry about how difficult a telehealth system will be to implement. And still, others are concerned about HIPAA compliance and related security issues.
Obviously, the key to successfully implementing a system is based in large part on choosing the right system. Selecting a provider with a proven track record in all these areas makes the move a lot less stressful.
At PrognoCIS, our telemedicine system is designed for seamless incorporation and hassle-free implementation, with robust security features to keep you compliant and keep your patient’s information safe and secure. Plus, our system is completely configurable for your needs, so you can start using it without taking time away from your practice and your patients. It’s a win-win solution for your practice and your patients.
Ready to learn more? Give us a call at 1.877.693.6748 or click here and schedule a real-time demo today.