Welcome to the final part of our 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.
Read part 3 to learn how telemedicine can help health systems improve patient engagement.
Continuity of care within an integrated system focuses on the seamless service through coordination of information between different providers. Today, patients very rarely can have all health care needs met by one sole provider. How different providers deliver care highly depends on a patient’s PHI being transferred smoothly between providers so that no small detail is missed that could be detrimental to a patient’s clinical outcome. As health systems move away from fee-for-service payment models and instead focus on a patient-centric approach, they’ll need easier ways to remain connected with their patients, and their records, as they move throughout the health system. Telemedicine as a solution to fragmented care continuity has already been deployed by many hospitals and health systems with success.
Improve Coordinated Care and Create More Engaged Patients
Hospitals and health systems treat a wide variety of patients with an equally wide variety of illnesses. Some are low-acuity and may not actually require a hospital visit while others are more serious and may reflect long-term, chronic illnesses.
For low-acuity care, the transitioning of the patient from the hospital and back to their home will often produce a lack of coordination with their primary care provider. If the health system provides telemedicine as an additional way to seek care, this patient could easily see a doctor without spending long amounts of time waiting to be seen and large amounts of money for an unnecessary hospital trip. In addition, when that patient plans their next trip to their PCP, that doctor will easily be able to see the records transferred from the telemedicine provider, even if the two facilities operate on different EHR systems. Telemedicine has also been proven to reduce hospital readmissions. With access to a doctor, a patient can follow up easily and quickly from home regarding any health concerns that otherwise would result in another hospital visit.
For patients with more serious illnesses, not only do they have the ability to seek care in an easier and more convenient way when an unscheduled visit is needed, but they can also schedule their more-frequently needed check-ups to be done virtually, saving both time and money that would be spent on in-office visits. All providers who manage the care of a patient with multiple health concerns can have access to these appointments and can become more proactive, resulting in better clinical outcomes and more engaged patients.
Delight Patients with Easy to Access, Exceptional Care to Keep them Coming Back
Receiving healthcare can cause stress to many consumers. The time it takes to find a doctor’s contact information. The call to the office and the experience of finding an appointment time that works with their own busy schedule. Finding a date and time that isn’t too far out for an urgent care need. The factoring in of commute and wait times to actually see a doctor. And not to mention the process of getting a prescription, if necessary. This can be time-consuming, overwhelming, and frustrating for the patient. If the patient leaves feeling unsatisfied by the care they received or perhaps couldn’t get an appointment in the time frame they were hoping for, they’ll often be on the search for a new provider.
In addition, when a patient heads to an emergency department for low-acuity care, the long wait time and the large bill they end up with in the end may leave a bad taste in their mouth.
By providing a stand-up experience via remote care, patients have a refreshingly good experience when they need it most, during a time of discomfort. Imagine the alternative to the any of the above occurrences. A patient downloads a mobile app and registers for a telemedicine service associated with your health system in less than 5 minutes. After agreeing to the low-cost visit (the average is $50) she is logged in and placed into a waiting room to see a physician. In less than 10 minutes a doctor is talking to her via video and asking key questions about her illness. 15 minutes later the consultation is complete and her prescription has been called into her preferred pharmacy and all she must do is pick it up once it is ready and waiting.
Do you think the patient will look forward more to the long wait time, high medical bill, and frustrating experience or the quick and easy virtual visit that cost less than a new pair of jeans? The patient is now more likely to return to the health system who provided her with this wonderful experience whether it is another online visit or something more serious that requires an in-person appointment. When she does need additional care, her health records will be complete and up to date from all previous online appointments.
Health systems will need to implement quality tools to further enhance their care coordination, patient engagement, and customer satisfaction. Ensuring that those tools and technology integrate with their existing infrastructure and have the ability to actually enhance the care provided will be key to providing a quality experience for patients.
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