Health systems, hospitals, and clinics who provide positive virtual care experiences for their patients are poised to thrive in this new landscape of telemedical care.
Providing high quality virtual care that is accessible to patients—regardless of their location, age, and technical proficiency—is not only possible, it’s expected. Patients expect their virtual care to be on par with their other virtual and low-contact experiences. That’s why it’s in every health system’s best interest to ensure their patients have a good virtual care appointment every time.
Good virtual care always saves patients time
Often, the time spent traveling to a doctor’s appointment and sitting in the waiting room or office is two or three times as long as the appointment itself. Obviously, a virtual visit eliminates this travel time. But that time savings is nil if a patient is stuck on hold or waiting for a doctor who shows up late to their online appointment.
As much as possible, limit the time patients must wait for the virtual appointment to begin. Communicate how long the wait time will be and where the patient is in a queue. Allow patients to upload photos or video while they wait. Let them view their lab reports ahead of time so they can be fully prepared for their appointment. Consider choosing a telehealth platform that eliminates long hold times and connects patients with their providers in as little as 30 seconds.
Transforming to a Virtual Clinic.
Download the playbook to learn how another health clinic switched from Zoom and grew from 0 to 3,782 virtual visits a month.
Good virtual care is simple and seamless
Patient-centered health care makes every aspect of the patient visit easy and comfortable. In person, this means providing a welcoming, accessible physical environment that sets patients at ease as much as possible. Virtually, this means creating a frictionless experience.
Downloading an app, creating a user name and password, and logging in to the app are unnecessary barriers to care. Patients forced to do all these steps will likely need technical support (or at the very least, password retrieval) and may be less interested in pursuing your virtual care offering in the future.
Save your patients the headache of learning a new app and remembering yet another set of login credentials. Provide one-step virtual visits that still track consent so you can engage patients where they are already comfortable and apt to follow through.
- Text or email patients a link to begin a secure virtual video visit. The video call can launch automatically on their smartphone, tablet, or computer.
- Call your patient’s phone or device.
Good virtual care inspires patient satisfaction and confidence
Research has shown that patients who feel their provider has a good bedside manner are “more compliant with treatment regimens, have more positive health outcomes, and are satisfied with the care that they receive.” When applied to virtual care, this interaction between patient and provider is called a “webside manner.”
If patients feel their provider’s bedside—or webside—manner is lacking, they may not feel listened to, or they may feel that the level of care they received is insufficient. They tend to be less compliant with following their care plan. They may also be more reluctant to try virtual care again the next time, or may search for a virtual care solution from a different provider.
In general, patients concerned with the level of virtual care they receive aren’t confident in the provider’s ability to accurately assess their concern. For example, a senior citizen may be concerned his pain was misdiagnosed because his physician couldn’t palpate the region he experienced pain. Or a mother of a toddler could be concerned that her child’s sore throat wasn’t correctly diagnosed because the physician couldn’t examine the throat.
During the visit, inspire confidence in patients by:
- Explaining how to make the most of their virtual appointment ahead of time. Remind patients to be in a private location so they can freely ask and answer questions. Confirm whether they have any needed rehabilitation equipment or remote monitoring devices for the appointment.
- Using high definition (HD) video. Train providers and patients about where to sit for the best lighting. Emphasize to patients the level of detail that care providers will be able to view during the call and why that matters.
- Encouraging providers to make eye contact through the camera as much as possible. Choose reporting software that minimizes the amount of data the provider must enter during the visit. This way, they can look at their patient more than they have to look at their screen.
- Offering in-video hand-offs to another provider. Instead of requiring a patient to end a call and start another one with a separate provider, complete the hand-off over video. This smooths the transition and feels more like an in-person experience.
- Requesting an in-person follow-up visit when necessary. A comprehensive telehealth platform takes the hassle out of scheduling follow-up care.
Good virtual care demands good communication, before and after the visit
Despite their provider’s excellent “webside manner,” a patient may feel less than satisfied with their virtual care experience. Perhaps expectations weren’t met — they didn’t know they would need to wait for a doctor, they didn’t know how much it would cost, or they didn’t understand the post-visit notes in their MyChart.
Communicating what to expect ahead of time will help ease the transition to virtual and will set patients up for successful visits.
Set patient expectations with proactive, transparent communication:
- Put patients at ease with written instructions. Consider a video or illustration that shows the steps to booking and completing a virtual visit.
- Encourage patients that they’ll receive the same commitment to care that they would if they were in person. Create marketing materials that highlight the capabilities of your virtual care technology.
- Be as clear as possible about the cost of the virtual visit ahead of time. Virtual care doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive. In fact, it’s extremely affordable when your telehealth platform integrates with your EHR, can be implemented in a couple weeks, and is designed to be as simple or as complex as your workflows require.
Demand more from your telehealth solution
Your telehealth or virtual care platform can streamline pre-visit scheduling, follow-up care, reporting, physician-to-physician consults, and scheduled or on-demand visits. It can make scheduling synchronous and asynchronous virtual care simple and effective. You shouldn’t have to change your workflows and practices just because you want to provide virtual care.
If you can’t customize your off-the-shelf telehealth or video conferencing system to give your patients a positive virtual care experience, then it’s time for a change.
Explore what a whitelabeled end-to-end virtual care platform can do for your practice. Bluestream Health exists to help make quality health care available for everyone, no matter their location. Contact us today to see how quickly you can implement a secure, EHR-integrated, virtual care platform.