Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.
Telemedicine is emerging as an effective and sustainable solution during this global pandemic. If your office is looking to continue to care for current patients and drive new business, telemedicine may be your solution. We’ve compiled 5 tips on transitioning to telemedicine.
Not only is telemedicine bridging the gap between people, physicians, and health systems, it’s also enabling everyone (especially symptomatic patients) to stay home. Patients communicate with a physician through virtual channels (similar to using FaceTime or Skype) – helping to reduce the spread of the virus and front-line medical staff.
The CDC is urging the public and medical professionals to use telemedicine as an alternative for all non-urgent symptoms to help reduce the surge and the spread of the virus. In addition to this, virtual consults via telemedicine solutions also help keep patients that need routine care at home, minimizing their risk of contracting the virus.
Why travel to the doctors, wait in a stuffy room filled with sick people to wait more in a cold and awkward room when you can do it in the comfort of your own home in your PJs? As more patients learn about telemedicine, more are making the transition. A recent study found that over 80% of patients chose their physician because they offered telemedicine services.
Telemedicine isn’t just for a family practice; it’s now widely adopted by all types of practitioners. Anne Peled, M.D., is a breast cancer surgeon (and a survivor herself), and when she was advised to shelter in place in San Francisco, she was already set up for success. Due to her unique sensation-preserving mastectomy technique, she attracts patients from all over the world and has been asked to do remote consults for quite some time. Her current patients are familiar with the option, but those that didn’t know, have been happy to learn Anne Peled is doing virtual visits and followups during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Not only does remote screening help reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it also protects the patient and your staff. Patients are top priority, and although telemedicine is excellent for some symptoms and scenarios, it’s not a one-stop solution. There are cases where patients will need to have testing in person. However, virtual visits are an excellent solution for routine care and non-urgent symptoms. Learn more about reducing the spread by visiting our article “Infection Control”
Routine care can often be forgotten during a natural disaster or pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not vital. Patients all over the United States have routine needs. I rely on my physician to administer a birth control shot every 90 days. During the quarantine, I was due for my injection. Rather than going to the office, I was able to do a remote consult, get the prescription delivered, and I administered it myself (I have a medical background and was able to do this without a hitch). Additionally, there are others out there with other pre-existing conditions that need routine followup visits that can thankfully be done remotely.
If you are a physician that does not offer this service, your patients may be finding other providers that do. Some of these providers specialize in telehealth solutions, and more patients are transitioning over daily. Forward recently based a large portion of their business model around it. Many physicians are finding that by offering virtual visits, they can keep their current client base and also bring in new clients that are looking for physicians that provide telehealth solutions.
Much like choosing the right EMR, selecting the right telemedicine provider can help save time, energy, and future headache. Here are a few popular platforms:
Is your front and back office ready for the transition? You’ll want to make sure that everyone and all your solutions are prepared for the transition.
This one should go without saying. Once you have your platform ready and your staff is ready to go, you’ll want to run tests. Have several team members practice remotely (on different internet providers and browsers). You may find that you need to increase your internet bandwidth. You’ll also find that you will be judged on your background of where you’re hosting these calls and that lighting is incredibly important. Practicing this and getting feedback from friends and family will be KEY.
One of the most important things, when you’re doing anything that is new, is to help bring awareness. One of the best and most important ways to do this is by announcing your website. A popup window upon visiting your website along with a banner at the top of the website with a link to book online is ideal. This one is here because it may take your website developer some time to get this up and running.
In addition to doing a site-wide announcement, you’ll want to make an announcement on your other platforms. We suggest doing the following:
Did you find these 5 tips on transitioning to telemedicine helpful? Let us know in the comments below! Have additional advice? We would love to hear from you.
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