Telehealth cemented its usefulness during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's evident that this extension of the medical industry is here to stay. The ability to remotely connect with patients is clearly beneficial when addressing various conditions, ranging from chronic pain to assisting those with mobility issues. Even for patients who simply prefer a more convenient method to interact with their physician, telehealth is invaluable.
The biggest telehealth challenge being faced in 2022 is patient perception of virtual visits over in-person examinations, along with improving telehealth efficiency. This factor can be mitigated by utilizing impactful assessment protocols, getting feedback from your patients, and making necessary adjustments. The fact is that telehealth has overcome almost all the biggest hindrances that it faced in 2020 and 2021, and is poised to continue its growth trajectory.
Benefits of Telehealth
As mentioned, telehealth is hugely beneficial to patients with chronic pain or mobility issues, and advances in technology and telehealth platforms have made telehealth nearly on-par with in-person visits. In 2022, more people than ever will opt for virtual visits with their doctors and more telehealth practices will open up than ever before. This allows improved access on an unprecedented scale.
Consider waking up with a sick child in the middle of the night, or living in a rural area far away from your clinic. Being able to see a physician remotely is game-changing, and provides a convenient solution that clients will utilize again and again. Telehealth is not only an attractive option for your patients, but it's also hugely beneficial for you, a physician.
Optimize Physician Time
Your time is extremely valuable, and you'd prefer to spend it doing what you love - treating your patients. Every extra minute that is spent on intake, billing, patient communication, or other tasks can be a time drain for both you and your team, reducing productivity. A well-developed telehealth platform - in combination with clinic visits, as needed - can help better structure your focus by streamlining the mundane steps of running a practice. Telehealth has matured from a convenient way to see a patient online to an advanced technology that can help you optimize how you’re spending your time, along with helping you improve your practice’s overall operations.
Additional Revenue Streams
Telehealth allows you to treat patients that may otherwise be inaccessible to you, due to location or other factors. You can build your telehealth practice from the ground up, or you can partner with an existing telehealth service provider to complement and expand your practice’s services [i.e. after hours coverage]. The former allows you to craft your business how you see fit, while the latter allows you to provide the benefits of telehealth to your patients without spending excess time and resources integrating the service platform.
Telehealth is ideal for visits related to most illnesses, non-life-threatening injuries, and routine follow-ups. Using telehealth decreases the number of patients in the waiting room, leading to reduced spread of infectious diseases and increased operational efficiency and productivity. In addition, telehealth technology has expanded to include many of your practice’s daily tasks, like e-prescribing, scheduling appointments, or writing specialist referrals. Using technology to automate daily tasks and improve patient communication not only streamlines operations and efficiencies but can also lead to greater financial growth and stability.
Streamlined Data & Credentialing Processes
Maintaining and storing credential information can be challenging, especially if you’re spread over multiple digital platforms or are keeping physical records. With the latter, human error can reign supreme and cause a whole slew of headaches. Not to mention, you’re busy enough as it is, and your time doesn’t need to be spent traversing the internet and hard copy files to stay atop of your credential management.
With the right telehealth platform, in addition to the functionality related to patient visits and office operations, you can catalog all of your credentials. Not to mention that you can even set reminders when renewal deadlines are approaching. All of which will save you hours of time and ensure accuracy.
You’re not the only one with important data, your patients have plenty of their own. The good news is, gathering data from your patients is faster and more accurate as well with a telehealth platform. ViTel's AI-driven intake process gathers information and helps with diagnosis, based on patient-provided information and symptoms. This increases the speed, quality, and impactfulness of the visit for you and your patients.
Helpful for Acute & Chronic Concerns
When your patients have a child who is sick in the middle of the night, not having to visit the ER or Urgent Care to get treatment brings convenience and peace of mind. Being able to interface with patients and determine if a stomach virus or sinus infection can wait, or prescribe medicine without them having to come to the practice, is a huge relief for sick patients that are already struggling.
Likewise for chronic disease patients who have mobility issues, not having to come into your office for weekly or monthly visits can save them a lot of time and hassle. Plus, participating in digital visits allows patients to participate from a comfortable and safe space, like their home, creating a greater likelihood for better focus and engagement. In fact, patients with chronic care conditions where you are remotely monitoring blood glucose, blood pressure, or other chronic conditions have shown an increase in patient compliance and outcomes.
The Future of Telehealth
The Technological Learning Curve for Physicians & Patients
There's a lot of technology involved in telehealth—webcams, computers, microphones, and a good internet connection are the bare minimum. You will also need to train your patients to take their vitals remotely as well. The good news is, telehealth technology is rapidly expanding and becoming easier to use, as telehealth has now become an accepted and fundamental part of healthcare.
Implementation & Management of Platforms
Current telehealth services are worlds apart from where they were in 2020 and 2021, and they're constantly improving. Over 84% of doctors are currently implementing virtual visits, and that number will continue to increase. The more clinics using telehealth, the faster the technology will advance and the faster practices and patients will start to see the positive impacts of it.
Currently, the process is to move all aspects of a patient's visit to a single platform that handles everything from scheduling and intake to record retention and billing. The process of migrating to such a platform sounds daunting, but that short-term pain can result in big-time, long-term gains.
Patient Adoption & Communicating Value
Patient usage of telehealth is 38 times greater now [in 2022] than it was in early 2020, and is continuously increasing. Where telehealth was previously utilized more for small-scale rashes, injuries, or minor illnesses, more chronic care, and long-term patients are choosing virtual visits over in-person options. Certainly, the increased inflation and rise of fuel prices make patients more interested in virtual visits, as does the ability to be seen by a doctor - particularly specialists - more quickly.
Patients understand the value of telehealth in 2020 - you just need to use constant feedback forms to keep on top of their criticisms and concerns.
Maintaining Bedside Manner Over Video
It can be easy to get distracted when you're not in the room with your patients. Likewise, many patients report that doctors seem distant or cold when communicating over video. Much warmth is lost when you're talking on a camera or the phone, so it’s important to remember one needs to be extra inviting, kind, and concerned. As we've stressed before, using your telehealth platform to gather patient responses is key to improving your practice and retaining your patients.
ViTel Helps You Overcome Telehealth Hurdles
We strive to make sure our telehealth platform is the best it can be. We link a practice’s ecosystem together to improve its ability to deliver high-quality healthcare remotely, and we'd love to show you how. Schedule a free demo and see how ViTel can take the guesswork out of branching into telehealth, boost your revenue, and improve your and your patients’ lives.