- Telehealth software plays an essential role in providing patient-centered care, as identified by Picker’s eight principles.
- While communication improves with telehealth software, you need to dedicate time to new technology and make yourself available. Otherwise, your patients will hit the same frustrations and roadblocks as they did before.
- NexHealth goes beyond traditional telehealth software companies by providing a wide variety of tools that plug in to your existing practice management software, improving patient experience every step of the way.
How can telehealth software improve your patients’ experience?
Telehealth software can be hugely helpful in enhancing the patient experience. Whether your patients have limited access due to time, geography, transportation, or other obstacles, telemedicine software offers an attractive alternative to receiving in-person care, and can be applied in many scenarios.
What is telehealth and why does it exist?
While often used interchangeably with telemedicine visits, telehealth is a wider umbrella term. Telehealth includes using technology like telecommunications and electronic information to facilitate health care in a remote setting. It can also include long-distance health education, health administration, and public health services for patients or professionals. With telehealth, you might be using a video conferencing tool, another internet software, or store-and-forward technology.
Telehealth exists for several reasons, but the most important reason is to improve access. Technology that supports long-distance care can help patients with lack of reliable transportation, health care, or time off work gain more opportunities to take appointments. It can also help people in remote rural areas receive care with ease. Doctors can also see patients more easily between appointments for check-ups using telehealth software. It exists as a useful triage tool, allowing doctors to assess if and when follow-up appointments are needed.
What is patient-centered care and why is it so important?
Patient-centered care is exactly what it sounds like: Healthcare services designed with the patient most in mind. Whatever that particular patient needs in the moment – emotional support, more information, comfort, respect, feeling of ownership in the decision-making process – is the responsibility of the practitioner to make happen.
It’s important to keep patient-centered care in mind for a few reasons. First, if the patient feels like they are taking an active role in their health, and that they are being listened to during their appointments, they are going to have increased satisfaction, which can result in higher reviews for your office. It can also improve morale for the staff and improve your reputation – these are ripple effects of practicing with purpose.
In the long-run, patient-centered care and employing technology in the process have been shown to improve your bottom line as well.
How can the patient experience be enhanced by a telehealth platform?
Technology is just one piece that can contribute to improving the patient experience, but it’s an important one. The Picker Institute identified eight principles of patient-centered care. Telehealth software can play a role in all of these principles to different degrees.
1. Respect for patients’ preferences
Adding technology into the mix increases the number of options available to your patients for appointments, in booking, communications, and the appointment itself. Record your patients’ preferences for how they’d like to receive communication (email, text, phone call, mail), how they would like to have their appointments (virtual if possible or always in-person), and how they’d like to book appointments (through the website, via phone, or by email). Recording and abiding by patient preferences when it comes to telemedicine systems will increase their satisfaction with your services.
2. Coordination and integration of care
Your patients should feel empowered and secure in the healthcare process. You can help by coordinating care for them via digital referrals, and helping them set up virtual appointments with you or coordinating them with others.
3. Information and education
The more you equip your patients with information, the more in charge they’ll feel of their own health. During a telemedicine visit, you can send patients relevant information via chat or email so they can reference the materials after their visit. Also, be sure to communicate how virtual appointments will go and what patients can expect from them before their first one.
4. Physical comfort
What’s more comfortable than meeting patients in their own homes? Holding telemedicine visits can be especially helpful to patients with chronic pain or mobility problems, who may have a harder time than others getting into the office and being comfortable once they arrive.
5. Emotional support
Being separated from your patients by a screen can diminish some of the emotional connection they feel with you, so be mindful of this during appointments. Maintaining eye contact, showing that you are focused on the visit, and repeating back what you’re hearing patients say are good ways to stay connected while remote. You can also use telemedicine software to keep in touch between appointments by sending emails and chat communications.
6. Involvement of family and friends
The flexibility of a virtual home visit means that family could sit in for an appointment as needed. They don’t have to take as much time out of their day to attend the appointment and could still be involved in the process.
7. Continuity and transition
With technology, you’re more available than ever after an appointment. If a patient has a question, all they need to do is email, text, or message you through the online telehealth platform to ask follow-up questions or clarification on care.
8. Access to care
And, most importantly, making virtual visits available for patients improves access to care to those who have a reliable internet connection but a less reliable way to come into your office. By offering both in-person and telemedicine visits, you’re improving the likelihood that your patients will seek out care when they need it the most.
How has the communication between patients and doctors changed as a result of telehealth?
Many patients find frustration in the communications process with their healthcare providers. It can take a long time to get an appointment, receive feedback, or finalize billing. Telehealth software removes many of these barriers by improving the options for communicating and digitizing some things that used to only come by mail.
While adding a virtual avenue opens up communication with your patients, you need to be sure that you are responsive on the other end. Otherwise, they will experience the same frustrations they did before, and the care will not be patient-centered.
What benefits can NexHealth telehealth services deliver?
While there are many telehealth companies out there, NexHealth goes above and beyond most of them. We not only deliver telehealth software for appointments, but also have online booking tools, email automation, digital patient intake forms, SMS marketing, chat tools, and more. NexHealth integrates with your pre-existing practice management software for a seamless experience for both patient and doctor.