Telemedicine has been slowly rising in popularity for years now. And as the COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the globe, it has become even more prevalent. While the pandemic has certainly expedited that rise, telemedicine appears to be here to stay even after the crisis has abated. Be it for convenience, or as a cost-saving measure, telemedicine is becoming the preferred treatment option for many around the world. Optimizing this experience for your patients can be extremely beneficial to your practice.
#1. Stay Up to Date
Things have, and will continue to develop quickly. As the world transitions from a state of global emergency, and back to a post-pandemic way of life, telemedicine will continue to evolve. As that happens, both expectations and regulations will become considerably more detailed. It will be of the utmost importance that your practice remains diligent in its preparedness for this evolution. Failure to do so will result in being left behind by the industry.
#2. Check with Your Current EHR or EMR for Telemedicine Options
It’s highly likely that the EHR (Electronic Health Records) or EMR (Electronic Medical Records) you presently make use of have already made their products and services compliant with these regulations. They also typically remain knowledgeable of the differences from one state to the next. And many even go so far as to offer telemedicine options of their own.
It is very important for practices to be accurately informed as to the pricing structure and features afforded to them through their EHR or EMR system provider. Data management practices must also be very closely reviewed and understood, as a security breach can result in significant consequences, such as exposure of patient information and history, theft of payment and insurance billing information, and employee personnel records. Most service providers provide full transparency in the telemedicine EMR systems that they offer. It is important that your practice works with a provider that does. This will help to alleviate any unexpected or unwanted surprises.
#3. Make Sure You Stay Compliant
As previously mentioned, the laws and regulations governing telemedicine differ from one state to the next. They encompass most aspects of the practice, including insurance payment and processing, and reimbursement of any out of pocket expenses. These regulations even go so far as to potentially restrict the treatment of a first-time patient via telemedicine conference. Therefore, it’s vitally important that practices remain current and compliant with all of the laws and regulations within their state. Spend the time necessary to research and educate yourself. This will help you to avoid any unwanted surprises down the road.
#4. Create a Great Experience
There are certain similarities between treating patients online via the Internet and treating patients in person. However, these two practices are vastly different and present wholly unique challenges. For starters, there is a built-in awkwardness to this experience; especially if it is a new one for either the patient or the care provider. Your patient must be made to feel comfortable, or they will be far less likely to be open and honest or provide you with accurate information regarding their symptoms, condition, or overall health. If you display signs of discomfort with the situation, your patient will most certainly pick up on that, and respond in kind. These interactions can become both an exercise and a stretch on your bed-side skill set.
#5. Be Mindful of the Virtual Experience
It is up to the health care provider to set the tone for the experience. If you feel uncomfortable with it, so to will the patient. Put some effort into “normalizing” the situation. Be on time for the appointment, and make sure to dress professionally. No one wants their doctor to show up for a visit wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. Ensure that your “virtual office” is properly cleaned and organized. Insert some enthusiasm into your demeanor, and try to keep administrative interactions to a minimum. Shuffling patients between doctor and office manager during a telemedicine visit is not as simple as walking from one room to the next.
Make the Most of Telemedicine Visits
Telemedicine is not a “passing fad.” It is the way of the future for the medical industry, and it is growing in popularity by the minute. If your practice is not currently offering this service to your patients, then you are doing a disservice to then, as well as yourself. Medicine is in a constant state of advancement and evolution. If your practice does not keep up, it will be left behind.