In the post-pandemic world, telehealth has become a vital component of a comprehensive patient engagement solution. Although many healthcare companies have now resumed in-house appointments, most doctors have expressed interest in continuing to use telehealth, especially for the management of patients with chronic disease or other ongoing issues. Additionally, one study showed that nearly 75% of patients who utilized telehealth services were more likely to choose telehealth again over an in-person visit.
A valid telehealth solution is more than just a video call with a provider. Patient expectations, technological advances, HIPAA, and insurance requirements continue to influence the telehealth experience for both the patient and the healthcare provider.
As companies move forward, it is important to look at what makes telehealth such a valuable feature and to continue shaping virtual doctor visits through the technology available at our fingertips. A telehealth solution that includes the following features can greatly increase the efficiency, helpfulness, and productivity of virtual doctor visits for both the provider and the patient.
Patient Self-Scheduling Software
Patients are increasingly seeking a more convenient way to schedule appointments, a problem that can be solved through a secure patient self-scheduling software. Self-scheduling allows patients to check for available appointments, schedule appointments, and view and edit existing appointments from any smart device.
The software should also include automated patient appointment reminders that can be customized to include phone calls, texts, and emails. Studies have shown that appointment reminders reduce missed appointments, saving healthcare companies time and money.
Telehealth with a Primary Caregiver
There are many successful telehealth companies, but unfortunately, not all of these companies provide consistent access to a patient’s primary care provider. A comprehensive telehealth solution should allow patients the ability to have telehealth visits with their existing physicians and providers.
Telehealth may be convenient for patients, but an effective solution must consider physician’s needs as well. Practitioners must be able to practice telemedicine with technology that is integrated with their workflow and that they can access from any location.
Telehealth technology should rise above a basic video call and allow for secure third-party additions, so that family members, translators, or other professionals can participate in the call as needed.
Patient Messaging Software
An efficient telehealth solution should include a patient messaging software that allows for bidirectional communication before and after patient appointments, including chatting and sending attachments. The software should support email, SMS, and in-app communication, depending on the patient’s preference.
There are times when a quick message with a follow-up question or the ability to send an attachment can greatly increase the productivity of a doctor’s visit. In addition, around 60% of patients now expect that their providers will utilize texting for routine communications.
A patient messaging software solution can also ease the burden of the reception team by automatically directing messages to the appropriate department, such as billing or scheduling.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring is an exciting technology that allows patients and doctors to keep track of and share important data, such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose levels, and more. 68% of physicians have acknowledged that remote patient monitoring is beneficial to both physicians and patients. This technology enables nurses and physicians access to real-time data that they need for the telehealth visit to be truly effective.
The use of telehealth, messaging, and patient monitors should not compromise the patient’s private health information. Up to 38% of patients are hesitant to utilize technological options because they are concerned about privacy and data security. To address this concern, the entire process, from scheduling to a post-visit follow-up, should be fully HIPAA compliant.
When most people were unable to leave their homes during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, HIPAA allowed for the temporary use of unencrypted platforms to ensure continuity of care. However, moving forward, offices must transition into a telehealth solution that utilizes a platform that allows for fully encrypted interactions.
Virtual Waiting Room
A major improvement over in-house waiting rooms, comprehensive telehealth solutions should include a fully customizable virtual waiting room for each patient. Here, patients can check-in for their appointments, fill out required paperwork digitally, view new policies, and consume customizable educational materials before their telehealth appointment. A virtual waiting room allows healthcare practices to manage the appointments in an organized way while ensuring that everything needed for an effective visit is already taken care of.
A patient portal is a comprehensive platform that offers all of the features mentioned in this article via a single point of access, creating an intuitive, secure, and easy-to-navigate experience for patients and healthcare providers. Additionally, patient portals can include other helpful features such as care plans for patients with chronic illness, prescription refills, access to lab reports and medical records, and online bill pay.
Patient portals allow patients to take more control of their healthcare in ways that are important to them: in a recent survey, 38% of patients said they hoped to see healthcare organizations focus on investing in a consolidated portal where they can securely access all the features they need.
Moving Forward in Telemedicine
With the continuing evolution of telehealth solutions that practically, safely, and effectively meet the needs of both practitioners and patients, there’s clearly a bright future ahead for online visits to the doctor.