According to a recent poll, the majority of healthcare leaders (70 percent) think that patient demand for telemedicine will increase or stay the same moving forward. They would be correct, as telemedicine has proven to be an appealing option for patients. It is efficient, improves the continuity of care, lessens wait times, and delivers care to remote areas. Even though more people are returning to their "face-to-face" lives as of late, they still see the value in digital healthcare.
A preference for virtual options is driving the future of healthcare for both patients and providers. This was confirmed in a November 2021 study from McKinsey & Company, which stated that 55 percent of patients said they were more satisfied with telemedicine visits recently than with in-person appointments. Some respondents claimed that they had even switched doctors since 2020, with two of the main drivers being convenience and having an overall better experience. For physicians, this adds another hurdle as serving an aging population, staffing shortages, a lingering pandemic, and the closing of rural hospitals have caused many to reevaluate how they can meet the needs of their patients.
Delivering the healthcare patients want
For the most part, patients want three things. They want to receive quality and thoughtful care, they want accessibility, and they want to feel as though they are being treated fairly. As much as hospitals and doctors work tirelessly to deliver the best care to their patients, there will always be some areas that they can't control. Sometimes patients live too far away to receive care quickly. Often, emergency departments are overcrowded while the hospital grapples with staffing shortages. As patients need to be seen promptly, occasionally, physicians don't have access to or have not had time to review a patient's medical history before a visit.
Why telemedicine is a preferred option
Telemedicine eliminates many of these challenges, which is why patients prefer it. With no long drives, they can see a qualified doctor quickly. With board-certified physicians ready to go online, the doctor can review a patient's chart and know their history even before the visit begins. Virtual appointments are held in private rooms where the attention is entirely on the patient. A well-rounded treatment plan can be put into action through this interaction, delivering continuity of care and follow-ups, sometimes during more flexible hours.
How providers can meet patient demand
While patient demand has increased, some physicians and hospitals are still reluctant to implement telemedicine services. However, moving into the future with technology is vital in healthcare. It is done through medicine and devices, and virtual care is no exception. Patient needs are constantly evolving and not being prepared for these challenges will create an additional burden for a practice and the staff.
Telemedicine is a solution that should be viewed as an extension of the care team, not a replacement yet not a separate entity either. However, before reaching out to a telemedicine provider, the first step is to understand your practice's exact needs and which services your patients prefer to do virtually. Once that is defined, finding a solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing team, workflows, and infrastructure is key.
Telemedicine lessens stress on providers
It is estimated that 45 percent of physicians invested in telehealth during the pandemic, and with good reason. Healthcare professionals that incorporate telemedicine into their practices report that they save time, are able to focus more on their patients, and can expand their hours. Telemedicine has also reduced no-shows or cancellations and has opened up new revenue streams. Most importantly, these providers are delivering better care by offering virtual follow-up appointments, reaching patients in remote areas, and serving patients faster.
Incorporating telemedicine into your practice
Partnering with the right telemedicine provider is vital when implementing a new program into your practice. They will ask the right questions - discovering your unique needs, what kind of technology you require, and determine how they can oversee a program without disrupting care. They will offer ongoing support and training to your team, and they will provide the right credentialed physicians. At VirtualMed Staff, we work with our clients every step of the way to make sure our telemedicine solutions bring our partners success today and tomorrow. To learn more, book a demo.
If you'd like a custom telemedicine solution for your hospital, get started with a consultation today!