Optimizing the Telehealth Model for Long-term Success: Activating Remote, Quality Healthcare
Telehealth has never been more talked about than in the first half of 2020. The current pandemic has certainly fueled an explosion in popularity, since, for many patients, telehealth has become the only way to see their doctor one-on-one. But telehealth solutions aren’t new. Healthcare Finance notes one study that found the growth in telemedicine patient visits increased annually by 261% from 2015-2017.
These virtual visits will remain an important tool post-pandemic as medical practices continue to look for ways to serve patients and grow their businesses. Practices will continue to “go virtual” as an outlet for offering their services to as many patients as possible, regardless of circumstance:
- To treat elderly or at-risk patients who are uncomfortable leaving their homes,
- To boost patient capacity without increasing the number of people coming through the office,
- To service remote patients who might have moved from the local area or require a specialist outside of their local geography,
- To see patients who might prefer the option to engage with their physician remotely versus making an in-office appointment, and
- To maintain operations in the event of another shutdown.
Telehealth solves a host of patient-engagement challenges, even without a pandemic looming in the background. Plus, it provides countless opportunities for practices looking to expand their reach into new patient communities. But for telehealth to be successful, practices need to consider their end goals and then build or adapt their telehealth plan accordingly.
Keys to Telehealth Success
For some practices, the idea of setting up a telehealth offering can be daunting. For those that already offer it, they may be looking for ways to improve the experience – to effectively carry out appointments from the very first patient communication to the check-in process, to the actual visit itself. Let’s walk through several ways that practices can optimize the telehealth model and make each visit a success for both patients and office staff:
- Patient Communication – A successful telehealth visit starts with communication. Scheduling the appointment is not enough. You need to take the extra step and remind them as the appointment draws closer, something most patients appreciate, as they may forget when or how the visit will take place. Start by sending patients reminders both a day before and the morning of their appointment via email or text message. Practices can even utilize two-way texting technology allowing patients to notify them via tex of their arrival. This way, they have all the necessary information in one place and will have it readily available without having to go searching.
- Patient Pre-Registration– To make sure all necessary information is collected or updated before a patient signs on for their visit, a robust pre-registration process needs to be defined. Clearwave’s Mobile Pre-Check™ can help facilitate and enforce this process, allowing new patients to input their medical history, demographic information and insurance information – they can even answer customized screening questions detailing potential vulnerabilities or symptoms for the physician’s review. And this can all be done remotely without ever coming into contact or even speaking with another person. This benefits practices looking to maximize contact-free offerings and eliminates the burden on front-office staff who may already be dealing with a full patient load. Staff can simply verify that information and send any relevant educational materials to patients while they await their appointment.
- Patient Check-In – With telehealth, the traditional process of a patient arriving at the office and checking in with the front desk becomes a thing of the past. That doesn’t mean check-in procedures are obsolete. Staff will want to verify that all patient information has been entered correctly and that there are no surprises on either the physician’s or patient’s end. CNBC cited that an estimate of 70% of patient records contain incorrect information, making verification checkpoints especially important. This is where Clearwave’s solution comes in. Patients enter or update their information, and then it automatically flows to staff for verification. Once the information has been confirmed, Clearwave can send a text message to the patient with a link to access the telehealth appointment – it’s that easy! This way, the patient is checked in, and they have the link at their fingertips at appointment time. Practices can also utilize virtual waiting rooms during the check-in process and monitor online queues and schedules to see who is next and to let the doctor know the patient is ready.
The real-world potential for telehealth is undeniable. It just requires some planning to replicate the best of the in-person experience for a virtual environment. Check out our infographic, “How Clearwave Activates Telehealth,” to learn more about how Clearwave solutions can help.
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