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.
It is no secret that the usage of telehealth began to grow as the COVID-19 global pandemic resulted in individuals having less of an opportunity to see their doctor at a medical office. In many instances, regional lockdowns and varying degrees of health and safety protocols discouraged – or prevented – people from being in the same room together.
As such restrictions loosen in various parts of the world, doctors far and wide will need to consider whether or not they will continue to offer virtual medicine appointments to patients. They will have to determine if having an ability to connect with patients in an online medicine format would be beneficial.
Healthcare professionals who determine that telemedicine is beneficial to both patients and themselves, will play an important role in ensuring such a care option never goes the way of the dinosaur.
In order to achieve this, the telehealth space needs to continually grow. This won’t happen naturally, thus it is important for doctors to keep the momentum going by:
Sometimes, the best ability is availability. Just because patients can now physically walk into a medical clinic for non-emergency care, doesn’t mean they should have to.
To keep patients continually engaged in online doctor’s appointments, they have to know such a treatment option is available and for what. Obviously, a broken arm or any other serious physical ailment should always result in a patient seeing a healthcare professional at a clinic or hospital.
But, for those who simply need to have a prescription refilled/revised, cold symptoms diagnosed, or receive mental health assistance, an online doctor’s appointment can be had.
In order for these patients to be aware of such an appointment option, telehealth-friendly medical venues should widely advertise the availability of such care.
Explain Benefits to Patients
Just because a service like virtual medicine is widely advertised within a clinic doesn’t mean patients will not have questions about it.
As such, a practice’s doctors and clinical team members should be comfortable communicating with patients about the benefits of live online video chats. Important points worth discussing could include no longer having to commute to a clinic; not sitting in a crowded waiting room; or having to manipulate one’s work schedule in order to make an appointment.
Additionally, everyone at the clinic should be well-versed in the features of the telemedicine solution being used, so that features and relevant usage instructions can be provided to patients.
Focus on Getting Good at Online Doctor Visits
In order to keep patients coming back for telehealth appointments, they need to feel good about the service they are receiving.
To see that this happens, a doctor should always maintain a bedside manner not too unlike what a patient has experienced during previous in-person consultations. Just because parties are now separated by a screen, does not mean the social interaction and the process of relaying diagnoses/advice should change.
What’s more, all medical clinics using a telemedicine solution need to be technologically sound. If patients regularly have their appointments delayed and/or interrupted by video call tech glitches, it’ll be hard to keep them coming back for more.
Promote Online Medicine to Peers
If you are a doctor that believes strongly in the qualities of telehealth, do not be afraid to boast about it to your peers.
During such interactions, you will have the opportunity to change the minds of peers who only used a telemedicine solution as a way to navigate through appointments during the worst of the pandemic.
You can clearly explain the long-term benefits you believe telehealth solutions can provide to clinics, as well as the numerous reasons why you have decided to continually meet with patients online.