With COVID-19 continuing to spread and cases climbing across the country, many physicians are looking to ramp up their telehealth options. Even as travel and business restrictions ease, having a telemedicine infrastructure in place now can ensure continuity of care and provide another means of serving patients in times of crisis.
Although the transition to telehealth may seem daunting, there are a number of steps that can be taken to help your patients adjust and still receive the same high-quality level of care they have come to expect during in-person visits. It is important to also consider the technology proficiency of your patients.
For those that may have limited access to the internet or lack the skill set to easily navigate within an online portal, you’ll want to provide additional support to walk them through the entire process, from scheduling an appointment to how to log in to attend a telehealth visit. With proper planning, you can find ways to create video or text-based guides that can help your patients make the transition to virtual medicine.
Telehealth a Winning Solution to Continued Care
Despite the obstacles that may make telehealth a challenge to implement, the many benefits that telehealth provides, even during a pandemic, make it clear that telehealth is here to stay. Here’s why…
- Social distancing stays intact. Since patients are seen from home, you reduce the need for travel and the contact that your staff has with sick patients and, subsequently, their exposure to the virus. Plus, with 38% of patients preferring virtual options that do not put them into contact with potentially sick people, telehealth is an obvious win-win. Not to mention, there are no rigorous cleaning, scheduling gaps, or other precautionary practices needed when you implement a telehealth model.
- Maintain your appointment schedule. With telehealth, you do not have to cancel appointments due to coronavirus restrictions and can keep consistency for your patients care. This also means that patients can get the care they need, when they need it, without having to reschedule until it is safe to meet them in the office. And, patient sentiment toward telehealth is quickly changing with over 75% of patients now being willing to at least try a virtual visit, up from previous estimates of 61%.
- Limited PPE required to provide quality care. Getting access to N95 masks and medical gowns have been extremely hard and costly to come by. If you implement telehealth appointments, you dramatically reduce your need for these items, and, instead, can reserve them for your most ill patients.
- Preventative screening possible. Rather than have patients wait to come into the office, holding a telemedicine visit enables you to quickly treat ailments before they become larger health issues. This also helps you to better maintain your patients’ health and keep them out of urgent care and emergency situations for illnesses that would have normally gone untreated.
- More staff available for tech support. The burden on medical staff is significantly reduced when you shift to a telemedicine model. Not only do the administrative needs go down, with fewer staff needed to clean rooms, provide administer care, or handle scheduling, staff members can free up their time to, instead, help walk patients through how to sign on and see their physicians.
The more you can do now to provide a flexible medical option to your patients, the better you’ll be able to manage and improve their health through the pandemic. As we begin to adjust to our “new normal”, with fears of a second spike of viral cases upon us, physicians that make the transition to telehealth will be strategically positioned to continue to provide superior and thorough care to their patients, no matter what safety or travel restrictions are enforced. The key is to identify the online channel that will work best for you and begin now helping your patients make the shift to telemedicine.