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, even the patients most hesitant about seeing their doctor in a telehealth environment did so. Thanks to a steady stream of lockdowns, health and safety restrictions, as well as medical clinics remaining cautious, having an online doctor’s appointment proved itself to be the best care option for non-emergency situations.
However, as pandemic-related restrictions vanish, so will a faction of patients who only partook in virtual medicine appointments because they had to. Now that they can visit their doctor at a brick-and-mortar clinic, some of these folks will have less desire to continue with video call technology.
Of course, this could prove to be a very disappointing reality for physicians like yourself. After all, you and your clinic invested a lot of time and resources on implementing an online medicine solution. Processes and best practices were developed; a workflow routine was devised and perfected.
While you may shudder at the number of patients who suddenly turn away from online doctor visits, what you shouldn’t do is panic or apply pressure. Rather, you and your clinic should try hard to understand why these individuals have reverted back to primarily accepting in-person doctor-patient appointments.
Once you know where these patients are coming from, you will have a better chance at getting them back into the telehealth swing of things.
Lack of Tech Savviness
Plain and simple, some patients either dislike new technology, or do not have the patience or interest in learning how it operates. Sure, some of these people took to virtual medicine for obligatory reasons in order to get treatment during the pandemic. But, as rules loosen, they will be super-excited about getting back to ‘normal.’
The challenge here will be convincing these patients that video call technology is still a relevant and necessary tool as the pandemic dissipates. Even if convincing eventually succeeds, your clinic might need to up its game with regards to how much energy it is willing to devote to providing patients with tech troubleshooting resources.
Understandably, certain patients could feel uneasy about sharing personal medical information in an online setting. They will believe that no matter how secure a telemedicine solution might be, there is the chance that sensitive details regarding their identity and health could leak out.
One way to get around this is by shopping for a virtual medicine provider that has gained a strong reputation for its security and privacy practices. In addition to this, you can comfort your patients further by explaining how their information is handled within a telemedicine solution and express how much trust you have in the provider the clinic uses.
Bad Previous Experiences Have Occurred
There are people out there who will never return to telehealth appointments because the experiences they’ve had with it were less than ideal. Either the technology felt too complicated, or it failed completely. Maybe the patient did not feel as if the doctor was as capable of diagnosing them online and not within a clinic.
No matter the negative experience(s) had by a patient, it’s recommended that you ask them about their concerns and see if you can remedy them in any way. Once you know where something went wrong, your clinic will quickly be able to course correct.
People Like Visiting the Doctor
Some people just like the idea of visiting their doctor at a medical clinic. They appreciate the social element of it and feel as if a more well-rounded appointment can be had in-person. They have also grown accustomed to this type of routine.
Of course, you can tell these people that seeing you in-person is still possible, but you would recommend occasional telehealth appointments for sessions that do not require the doctor and patient being in the same room together for a prolonged period of time.