Welcome to part 3 of a 4 part series where you’ll learn about the top benefits telemedicine offers health systems when they use it as an additional channel of care for their patients.
Read part 1 to learn how telemedicine helps health systems increase patient census.
Read part 2 to learn how telemedicine helps health systems reduce the cost of health care.
Technology can both hinder and help promote patient engagement. For some, technology can seem like a barrier. Health care providers who are trying to encourage patient interaction and scheduled visits often see technology as a competitor. With the Internet at everyone’s fingertips, patients are more likely to seek out medical care online rather than scheduling an appointment to discuss care needs with a doctor. But on the flip side, other pieces of technology are enhancing the ways in which doctors are interacting with their patients. From online portals where patients can ask a question and receive a quick answer from their own physician to wearable technology that helps patients monitor their health and chronic diseases, technology is helping patients provide more information to their doctors and is giving doctors more ways in which to encourage higher levels of engagement. So where does telemedicine fall into the mix?
Increase Patient Engagement
Improves Handoffs Between Providers for Better Care Transitions
Out of the top 25 health systems, the largest has 8,870 total MDs and DOs affiliated with their organization. While a patient wouldn’t see nearly 10,000 doctors throughout their lifetime within a health system, even coordinating care between 10 physicians spread throughout primary care offices, emergency department, specialists, surgery centers, and EMS services affiliated with one health system would be difficult. The addition of urgent care facilities and retail clinics not associated with the health system makes it even more challenging as patients are finding alternative resources for quick and less expensive health care where patient records don’t automatically transfer, creating a gap in their health care history.
Health Systems and other providers who give their patients access to a telemedicine service associated with their network can bridge that gap. Not only can patients avoid expensive urgent care facilities and other high-cost health care providers, but they can get their care from home and have their health records automatically transferred to the health system they’re loyal to.
Next time Jonathan goes to see his primary care physician, his doctor has the ability to see that he’s been seen online for 3 UTIs over the past 6 months and can be aware of a situation that may be a more serious issue and require further testing.
The better your patient hand-off is coordinated, the more likely your patients will be to seek care from your health system, and you’ll easily increase patient engagement.
Offers a More Convenient Way to Access Care in a Competitive Market
Most hospitals and health systems aren’t lucky enough to be the only provider in their immediate area, which means competition is high on their priority list. This one is simple. The easier it is to access care, the more likely a patient will choose that avenue. Health systems who provide the option to access a doctor 24/7, from their home, in 10 minutes or less, and for less than $50 is going to have the upper hand.
Telemedicine can be provided to both existing and potential patients meaning you not only can retain your current patients, but you can also earn the loyalty of new patients who may not have this service available from their current health system.
More and more health systems are providing this service, don’t let yours be the last to jump on board. Increase patient engagement by ensuring more and more consumers are seeking health care from your provider network.
Follow-On Care Can Be Done Remotely Vs. Scheduling an Unnecessary Appointment
Patients who are recovering from a surgery or those who live in rural areas would likely prefer their follow-up appointment to be performed remotely so they can rest comfortably at home or avoid a long commute to their physician’s office. Follow-up appointments are often low-acuity and easy to manage via video.
Physicians who are able to provide follow-on appointments via a telemedicine consultation can save time and are able to squeeze in more appointments daily, increasing the number of patients they see and their revenue. By providing telemedicine follow-ups they’re also reducing the number of times they might otherwise experience a no-show, causing loss of available appointment times for others and reduced reimbursements.
Easy to access follow-on care also improves patient engagement and helps keep patients on track with their care plan (hint: see #1).
Increasing patient engagement is a big concern, especially with population health management. If you’re looking to improve your health system’s patient engagement, be sure to evaluate telemedicine.
Stay tuned for part 4 where we’ll share how telemedicine can help health systems improve their patient continuity.
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