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Virtual Visits: Telehealth’s Vital Future Role

May 13, 2020 | Strategy
Telehealth Visit

While the healthcare industry was growing to embrace telehealth, virtual visits, and portal adoption, the COVID-19 pandemic uncovered the vital need for non-traditional physician visits and alternatives to the typical exam room. In a frenzy to adopt and maintain patient relationships and deliver care, even the national government responded by loosening restrictions on types of visits and payment models.

As the crisis slows and the new norm takes shape, patients have likely either considered a telehealth visit, or have already tried it. The question is: Is this the new direction of healthcare? Based on research and conversations with health system leadership, we believe that, yes. It is. Recent data published by NRC Health shows that patients are willing to try new forms of care, and telehealth tops the list. So, how can your practice adapt and be ready for this new patient expectation? We’ve listed a few tips below to help ease the transition and be sure patients and caregivers alike feel comfortable with the process.

9 tips to help ensure a smooth transition to telehealth.

  1. Publish a tip list for patients and share in advance of their visit so they feel empowered and comfortable with the new format.
  2. Keep the scheduling process as familiar as possible. If your patients have been used to scheduling with a call to the office or via your website, allow that same appointment process to take place. Just provide instructions for contacting over the phone instead of coming into the office.
  3. Focus on eye-contact, even across screens. Try setting up cameras so that they’re at eye level and remind providers to look into the camera so your patient feels validated and heard.
  4. Keep engaged and show active listening. Allow the patient time to share their concerns and ask questions.
  5. Test equipment for sound and light quality, and practice a few trial runs to make sure providers and their teams are familiar with the technology.
  6. Be aware of the environment. Not only should it be free of distractions, but keep screens off-camera or paperwork out of view to avoid potential HIPAA breaches. Consider simple backgrounds or even virtual background tools to help keep the focus on the patient-provider-relationship.
  7. Be patient and adjust clinic templates to allow more time while the process becomes second nature.
  8. Have a backup plan if a patient visit gets derailed due to technology and empower the scheduling teams to reschedule for another day or time.
  9. Take advantage of the opportunity to encourage patient portal usage and involvement on those platforms. While some patients may be uneasy with smartphones and web-based health, telehealth may help bridge that gap and provide a new engagement tool.
While telehealth is not appropriate for all patients and their presenting concerns, with a plan and process in place, your practice may be able to deliver care virtually with only a few modifications for the right patient.

Ready to start marketing your telehealth services?

If you’d like some help modifying your patient communication strategy or developing tools to ease the telehealth transition, let’s chat

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