Banty Co-Founder and Medical Director, Dr. Richard Tytus, provided the subject matter and direction for this article. The author would like to thank Adam Grant for his editorial assistance in writing the article. Dr. Richard Tytus takes responsibility for the content of the article.
Throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic, it can be said that patient awareness of virtual medicine grew incredibly. Many patients were offered online doctor’s appointments by their physician, while others – via news and social media feeds – learned about the advancements happening in the virtual medicine space.
The downside of this increased awareness, though, is that virtual medicine (for better, or for worse) has become joined at the hip with COVID-19. To some, the association is so tight, they have trouble viewing online medicine as something that did, or will continue to, exist on a broad level even once the pandemic subsides.
As a doctor, it is your responsibility to communicate with patients that video calls with them is a viable option moving forward. Here’s how to build that case:
Telemedicine Was Happening Pre-Pandemic
Ahead of COVID-19, telemedicine was happening in various parts of the world. Patients should be reminded that the pandemic didn’t prompt the idea of doctors meeting with them over the phone or via a live video chat online. These practices were already happening, it’s just that COVID-19 spurred greater adoption of this treatment possibility.
If anything, the COVID-19 global pandemic forced healthcare professionals and the developers of virtual medicine solutions to step up their game so that patients can always get the care they need – especially when in-person appointments are not doable.
Video Calls are an Object of Convenience
While virtual medicine appointments during the pandemic have largely been made as a way to keep people home, or not exposed to others who may have COVID-19, that narrative will not always exist.
In reality, video conferences are convenient for patients to attend. They do not have to go the extra mile manipulating their calendar to ensure they’ve etched out enough time to travel to and from an appointment.
What’s more, these appointments can essentially be conducted from anywhere – the home, a car, or a private office where no one is around and able to listen-in.
Online Medicine is Beneficial to a Person’s Health – Even After COVID-19
One major lesson we all learned during the height of the COVID-19 global pandemic was that some patients had ailments go undiagnosed, or not treated soon enough, because they either weren’t aware of telemedicine, or the clinic they go to didn’t offer online doctor’s visits.
As virtual medicine awareness expands, however, we need to make sure patients who are averse to travelling to a clinic (regardless of what the reason may be), know that seeing their doctor any way possible is important.
If we can effectively communicate with these individuals the overall health benefits of doctor-patient video calls, they’ll begin to view the technology as a helpful entity.
Remove the Negative Stigma
Some patients will forever associate video calls with the pandemic. This, unfortunately, will turn some people off right away. Understandably, the pandemic remains a sore subject for a number of people, for a multitude of reasons.
As a medical practitioner, you need to work hard to frame telemedicine as an evolved way of providing patient care. To accomplish this, you must push the positives of it (i.e., convenience, ease of use, online privacy, etc.) and hope they make patients disconnect the technology from the virus.
This step may take a while to work through, but the goal is to remove the negative stigma by communicating the right way with as many patients as possible.