Telemedicine and its Role in Boosting the Levels of Patient Engagement
Telemedicine is disrupting the healthcare delivery paradigm. With the coronavirus pandemic driving telemedicine mainstream, we are currently witnessing a widespread adoption of virtual consultations across the care continuum.
Whether it is an individual practice or a large scale healthcare organization, rapid telemedicine adoption is being witnessed across all the sectors.
The convenience, efficiency, and cost savings that telemedicine offers present a compelling use case of telemedicine utilization that is likely going to continue even after the pandemic ends.
As patients as well as healthcare providers adapt to the new normal, one question is brimming at the back of the mind of everyone.
How will the rise in telemedicine adoption affect the patient experience?
The good news is that telemedicine is documented to have a positive impact on the overall patient experience. A recent study on the impact of telemedicine on patient experience found significant improvement across all the specifications of the National Quality Forum- access, experience, and effectiveness.
Telemedicine shines when it comes to boosting patient experience levels. It lays the foundation for patient-centric care, boosts patient engagement in their health regimen, and results in higher patient satisfaction.
Here’s how telemedicine helps in improving the patient experience and how you can leverage the same for your healthcare practice as well.
1. Telemedicine cuts down on the commute and wait times.
Traveling to and fro the healthcare clinic for hours for an appointment that barely takes 15-30 mins is a waste of time and resources.
For patients who have to commute long distances, a visit to their doctor often means taking time off work, spending time on the commute, waiting at the doctor’s clinic for their appointment, and driving all the way back. All of these act as major sources of negative clinical experiences.
Telemedicine eliminates the need for commute and allows the patients to bypass the negative waiting room experiences. Having video consultations from the comfort of their own homes can be incredibly convenient for the patients.
Virtual visits are perfectly suited for follow-up appointments, routine health check-ups, and pre and post-surgical visits. Tele-triage can also help streamline emergency visits, helping maximize the efficiency of healthcare delivery.
By keeping the minor cases out of the emergency room, physicians can prevent the ER from overcrowding, give more attention to the emergent cases and boost the patient experience.
2. Telemedicine ensures a better quality of care
While skeptics think that having virtual consultations might hamper the quality of care patients receive, telemedicine actually ensures a better provider-patient relationship leading to greater patient satisfaction.
According to a research study published in annals of vascular surgery, 91 percent of the participants who received post-op follow-up through telemedicine reported that the app enhanced the quality of care that they received.
Telemedicine allowed the patients to have frequent check-ins with their doctors, better post-op care and monitoring, and resulted in fewer complications.
The patient-provider interactions are enhanced by more bedside time allotted to each patient. Leveraging additional technology through connected devices and supplementary apps can provide physicians with real-time patient data to provide data-driven care.
On comparing virtual visits to office visits, patients and clinicians reported no difference in the overall quality of the visit. 62 percent of respondents said that quality of care through telehealth was the same as that in case of an office visit while 21 percent of the respondents reported that quality in case of telehealth visits was actually superior to an in-person visit.
3. Telemedicine facilitates better health outcomes
Virtual care not only guarantees a better quality of care delivered, it also has a significant impact on the overall health outcomes obtained. Medication adherence apps connected to the telemedicine portal helps ensure that the patients are following the regimen prescribed to them, resulting in better prognosis.
The use of connected medical devices through the internet of medical things gives patients the feasibility to attend the follow-up appointments without having to make the trip down to the doctor’s clinic.
A great example of the same is Cleveland Clinic’s telemedicine initiative for patients who have undergone bone marrow transplants. Such patients are typically at elevated risks of infection with compromised immune systems.
Instead of recalling patients to the hospital for daily temperature and blood pressure readings and exposing them to possible infections, the patients are provided with digital blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and activity trackers.
These allow doctors and nurses to monitor patient’s progress remotely and use telemedicine to connect with patients lagging behind in progress, promising better outcomes.
A similar telemedicine pilot is being run for women with low-risk pregnancies as well. Their blood pressure, urine analysis and weight data is collected by devices at home.
Powered with this data, the obstetricians can have their checkup appointments without pregnant women having to expose themselves to the hospital environment. This has been a boon especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Telemedicine is cost-effective
Telemedicine doesn’t only save time, but it also results in significant savings for the patients. The cost of telehealth services is lesser than healthcare services that are delivered in traditional settings.
According to a report, the cost difference between a telehealth visit and a corresponding office-based physician appointment is $40 per visit. The patients no longer have to bear the costs of traveling to and fro the provider’s clinic.
Prompt delivery of healthcare services virtually also prevents the condition for worsening by offering a timely and convenient resolution of the same. It also helps the patients avoid costly and complex treatments required when the disease has been exacerbated.
Lowered costs not only improve the patient experience by meeting where they are, they also give a boost to the levels of patient engagement, encouraging them to schedule regular health visits and taking control of their own health.
5. Telemedicine prioritizes the patients
Having to wait in the clinic’s waiting room when in pain or suffering from distress can put a huge dent in the patient experience. Unlike traditional visits, where the patient has to wait for the doctor to be available, telemedicine prioritizes the patients, and allows for scheduling that better fits the patient’s requirements, thus ramping up the overall patient experience.
By allowing the patients to bypass the negative consequences of time spent on the wait, telemedicine takes the doctor-patient interaction to a higher baseline level of satisfaction to begin with.
Uninterrupted one-on-one interactions make the patient feel important, developing a sense of trust and increasing the satisfaction level they experience. Telemedicine also gives the patients the facility to choose from a number of different ways they might want to interact with the doctor.
Some patients may prefer to have resolution of their queries over text while others might prefer to have video consultations for the same. By giving the decision making power to the patient, and ability to securely communicate with their doctors in their preferred format invariably leads to the development of a positive patient experience.
6. Telemedicine allows the physicians to treat more cases
Patients have to wait for massive amounts of time before they can see a physician in person. Ineffective scheduling also contributes to physician burnout while missed appointments are a burden to the healthcare segment as a whole.
Telemedicine eliminates the scheduling constraints, allowing physicians to effectively utilize their time, see more patients, and create satisfactory health experiences.
In case of traditional in-office health delivery, the healthcare provider’s ability to give patients appointments on their desired time and date is subject to the availability of rooms, which limits the appointment slots available.
Telemedicine frees up the providers from these limitations, allowing them to see more patients, manage their schedule more effectively and in turn improve the overall patient experience.
How to integrate telemedicine into your medical practice
Having a telemedicine platform for your practice is the key to superior patient experience. While you can choose to subscribe to a ready-to-market solution, custom building your platform is the way forward for exemplary user experience.
By integrating with the existing healthcare software that you currently use and designing the workflow according to your unique requirements, custom development can help you reap the rewards telemedicine integration offers.
Finding a development team that understands the intricacies of healthcare development and is cognizant of the privacy and data security requirements that it involves is crucial.
With 9+ years of experience in healthcare software development, Arkenea has helped numerous healthcare practices reinvent the connection between healthcare providers and care seekers.
With clients ranging from up and coming healthcare startups who went and raised millions of dollars in venture funding to Fortune 500 companies, our extensive experience in healthcare software development make Arkenea a trusted partner for your development needs.
Contact our team of expert consultants with your development requirements and we will get back to you with customized solutions.