COVID-19 made virtual visits far more common across the country, with more people than ever before stating they either do virtual visits with their doctor or have in the last two years. Virtual medicine visits increased in 2021, and they're expected to rise in 2022. With more people than ever seeing their doctors remotely, it might be easy to assume virtual visits are effective and useful.
While it's true that virtual visits have increased, do more users mean more usefulness? We will examine the benefits of virtual visits, how they compare to in-person appointments, and what virtual care can mean for you and your patients.
How are virtual practices effective?
Some doctors are doing a hybrid model, offering virtual and in-person visits, but there are a lot of virtual practices around. Some doctors have virtual-only practices as their main practice or on the side, creating additional income streams to service patients who aren't in their area. This practice is especially true for in-demand specialists needed nationwide.
Distance isn't a problem
Virtual practices are designed to meet the needs of patients across the country who might not have access to a physician otherwise. You might even add a virtual doctor to your existing practice, interfacing and communicating remotely with patients. This is great for patients because it expands their ability to be seen without traveling. Patients with chronic conditions, pain, mobility problems, or living in rural areas can benefit from this increased access.
Data transmission is safe, quick, and confidential
When working with a powerful virtual platform, credentialing and hiring physicians to join your practice is safe, secure, efficient, and painless. Any doctor who has worked in this field for long can relate to the tedious, often lengthy process of getting credentials checked. Still, telehealth platforms make it easy to certify the results in a way that has never been done before.
Improvements in technology make it easier to bill patients, perform intake, and store their data securely. Waiting to see a physician remotely is far more appealing than going to an office and sitting in a waiting room. AI technology can help you diagnose your patients based on their responses to intake questions.
Diagnosis and care are more efficient
Being able to refer a patient to a specialist can be much more efficient with a virtual practice, as you no longer have to wait until a spot opens up in your city. Teaching your patients to take their vitals and then record them in real-time saves time, and getting them needed medicine through pharmacists linked up to your telehealth platform has never been faster or easier.
Challenges of virtual practices
Some patients have issues that need to be addressed in person to diagnose or assure them that they're getting the right course of treatment. Many patients prefer in-person visits, and others find that remote visits are impersonal, cold, or unfeeling. While virtual practices are improving, some areas still need more updating.
Some patients will simply never take to this model of practice
For the most part, elderly patients are among the highest adherents to virtual visits and the demographic with the most people who will never use telehealth. Distrust of technology needs to be trained out of people, especially older generations, but for some, it's so ingrained that telehealth will never replace physical visits.
Insurance can be tricky
Not all insurance companies are on-board with virtual visits. Some won't reimburse fully, and others won't interact with telehealth. As more physicians and patients move to support virtual health, however, it will force the hand of the insurance companies.
Technology can be difficult
A virtual business needs IT staff, and you need your patients to be at least somewhat tech trained. Using a computer is relatively easy, but taking their vitals and using all the necessary equipment can be challenging. If you're moving to a telehealth business from a physical one, you'll need to train your staff on virtual protocols, patient data, etc.
Virtual practices solve more problems than they create
Telehealth is hugely beneficial, even if there are still some issues. Nothing is simple, especially in the intricate world of medicine, and moving it to remote spaces is challenging. Still, improved patient adherence to treatment and access to care is well worth the effort and transition to virtual practice.
ViTel can help you get the most out of your virtual practice by providing you with the tools and network you need to succeed. Contact us today for a free demo and see the difference a well-developed virtual partner can make for you and your patients.