4 Reasons Telemedicine Is Nothing to Fear

During the current global pandemic, patients might fear going to the doctor’s office. One of the most viable ways to overcome that fear is by making a telemedicine appointment. Many patients who are nervous about their virtual appointment end up pleasantly surprised.

 

The truth is even some physicians have questions about telemedicine. They might wonder if the quality of care they can provide will go down or if it will take too many resources to train physicians in the technology. Here are 4 reasons why telemedicine is nothing to fear.

 

#1: Improves Patient Satisfaction

A primary benefit is that patients feel safe at home, especially if they have chronic health conditions. The ease of access means they don’t have to commute or miss out on work either. They can “visit” you right from their home office or workplace. Fewer barriers to care means it’s less likely that your patient will be a “no show,” too.

 

Furthermore, many patients end up feeling more comfortable sharing personal information in the privacy of their own home. Not only does this build a patient-physician relationship, it makes for better diagnosis and treatment, too.

 

#2: Increases Profitability

Telemedicine helps physicians see more patients in less time. In these appointments, a patient and physician often get through a “visit” more quickly. This enables physicians to have more appointments in one day, increasing the utilization of your staff. As a result, you might need fewer staff in place than before, reducing costs for your healthcare facility.

 

More patients will have access to care, particularly if they are in rural or hard to reach areas. Patients who were previously unable to visit the office are now able to receive telehealth treatment. This means your patient base will grow.

 

#3: Decreases Hospital Readmissions

Patients might make follow-up trips to the emergency room or urgent care after a health scare or serious health concern. Many of these trips end up being non-emergency. Telemedicine makes it easier for patients to access follow-up care, particularly if they cannot go to appointments in person. It’s easier for providers to stay in ongoing contact with a patient after a health concern, reducing any fear or anxiety a patient might have.

 

This allows hospitals to cut down on readmission rates, saving resources for patients who need emergency care and reducing a patient’s exposure to disease.

 

#4: Expands Access to Specialists

Plenty of healthcare facilities need to staff multiple locations with specialists. Specialists are often in high demand but low supply, making it difficult to care for every patient who needs special care. With the barrier of transportation and location removed, telemedicine makes it easier for specialists to reach more patients.

 

Patients who live in remote areas, have busy schedules, or need to stay home for health concerns will be able to access specialists during the pandemic. Even patients who were simply unable to get specialist appointments will have better access to the care they need.

 

Implement Telemedicine in Your Practice

Telemedicine improves patient health, happiness, and access to care. Get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you add telemedicine to your practice.

telehealth for children

Children across the country are adapting to the disruption of COVID-19. Now more than ever, telehealth in school is an excellent way to keep our kids healthy and safe. However, the increase in virtual care for children in school was happening well before the pandemic started.

Are you a school administrator interested in implementing these services in your school? Or perhaps you are a physician who is trying to offer your services to more people? Here are some ways virtual health can help children.

The Difficulties Schools and Parents Face

First, let’s discuss the primary issue that keeps kids from getting the care they need—access to convenient care.

If you are a parent with a child in school, you know how inconvenient it can be to take your child to the doctor when they get sick at school. You may have to leave work, pick them up at school, and drive them to the doctor, who might be located up to an hour away.

Some children don’t get sick that often. For others who suffer from chronic conditions that require regular visits to a physician—diabetes, asthma, and developmental disabilities, to name a few—seeing a doctor can be extremely inconvenient.

Many children do not even have access to healthcare outside of school. In some cases, their parents do not make enough money to provide them the care they need. Not receiving essential medical care can lead to absenteeism and cause a child to fall behind. Telehealth at school can help to bridge this gap.

How Virtual Care Helps Kids in School

Here are a few ways that school-based virtual healthcare can benefit children:

Parents and Primary Care Providers Can Participate

Instead of driving from work to school to the doctor’s office, parents can instead join via video. The child’s primary care provider can also join the call for any medical care that requires their guidance.

Immediate Care

When injury or illness happens at school, children need to have access to care right away. With telehealth services at school, they can get access quickly.

Disadvantaged Children Can Get Care

Students who would not normally receive care can access the medical help they need at school. Whether they need care regarding dental, behavioral, or medical care, they can get it with the help of technology.

Fewer Missed Classes

When children miss too many classes, they are more likely to fall behind their peers. Students who perform better in class are more likely to graduate from high school, which can improve their overall quality of life. Implementing telehealth in school can make it so they only miss part of the day.

Get More Information on Implementing Telehealth Services

Are you interested in learning how to implement virtual health services at your school? Want to offer your health services to schools in your area? Get in touch with Virtual Possibilities today so we can discuss your needs.

Want a Successful Virtual Care Visit? 6 Tips for Physicians Who Are New to Virtual Healthcare

Virtual care is growing more popular by the day among patients and physicians, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps a few of the reasons for its growing popularity include the ease of access to medical professionals that it offers patients, the additional revenue stream it offers physicians, and the safety from infectious disease that it offers patients.

At one New York hospital, urgent and non-urgent virtual appointments grew by 683 percent and 4,345 percent, respectively, between early March and mid-April.

The need to teach providers how to conduct a successful virtual care visit is obvious. These six tips will help physicians and clinicians offer their virtual patients valuable telehealth services.

6 Tips for Your Next Virtual Care Visit

Offering virtual health services is not as simple as transferring skills that providers use during in-person visits to virtual space, though many of those skills remain important. To summarize, providers need to communicate more effectively to compensate for the limitations of interacting through a digital medium.

Try these tips if you find virtual care visits challenging at first:

Introduce Yourself and Clearly State Your Role

As the provider, you are responsible for setting the tone of your virtual appointments. One of the best ways to present a professional, informative persona during these appointments is to introduce yourself and tell your patient what your role is as their care provider.

Make Your Patient Feel Comfortable

It is also important not to take on a tone that is too formal during the visit. You want to make your patient feel comfortable so that they open up to you about their concerns. When they describe the issue that they are having, make sure to validate their concerns verbally. You can also make them feel like they are being heard by addressing them by their name.

Discuss Confidentiality and Consent

Before the visit, be sure to confirm patient consent. At the time of the visit, also discuss patient confidentiality, especially concerning others in their end who might be able to hear your conversation.

Introduce Staff Who May Be Participating

Continuing with the confidentiality conversation, if there is anyone from your staff who will be participating in the virtual care visit, introduce them at the beginning of the appointment to avoid any surprises.

Collect Feedback on the Virtual Care Visit

Each virtual appointment presents an opportunity for you to improve your processes, so consider collecting feedback from your patient at the end of the visit. They may have some insights into how you can make your appointments more effective and more enjoyable for your patients.

Follow up with Your Patients

After your virtual visit, be sure to follow up with your patient. If you referred your patient to a specialist, make sure that they are able to connect, either online or in person.

Talk to Us about Implementing Your Virtual Care Services Today

Now that you understand a few of the keys to a successful virtual patient visit, get in touch with us to see how we can help you implement virtual healthcare for your practice.

Reopening America: What Will Be Our New Normal in a Post-Pandemic World?

Every era is defined by major events, and our moment in history is no exception. COVID-19 is going to determine how the world looks after 2020. As we begin to think about reopening America, we will have to accept that things will not be as they once were. Instead, a new normal will emerge, a new way of life in which we will have to reconcile how things used to be with new structures of how we will think and act. The healthcare sector will be among the industries that are most affected.

We have already seen how certain roles within medicine have had to adapt during the pandemic. For example, the role of Chief Medical Officer has had to shift communication strategies to ensure the safety of staff and maintain the quality of care for patients.

In the short-term, hospitals and healthcare facilities must deal with disruptions to their supply chains and workforces, as well as damage to their profitability. However, in addition to the immediate effects of the pandemic, those in healthcare will also have to contend with lasting changes.

For one, telehealth is set to become an even more critical part within clinical space and healthcare administration.

The Importance of Telehealth for Hospitals and Practices

According to Ernst & Young, 75% of health executives say they were already undergoing a digital transformation before COVID-19. We have seen the importance of telehealth surge during the pandemic, with many physicians increasing their reliance on teleconferencing and other digital health applications.

The possibility of a prolonged—perhaps permanent—shift toward digital is a likelihood that the healthcare industry will need to consider after reopening America.

Visualizing the Future

The increased use of telehealth in hospitals and medical practices is not the only disruption that the pandemic has caused to the healthcare industry. While we know that the coronavirus has highlighted some shortcomings within the current system—not to mention the influence it has had on patient and clinician preferences—we will not know exactly how the landscape has shifted until we see it happen. For certain, though, is that those institutions that are able to accurately visualize the future will outpace those that cannot.

Reshaping Medicine for a New Normal

Visualization is not enough, however. Only those institutions that implement and capitalize on new ways of operating will see a return. Executives will not only need to study current trends within healthcare so they can visualize what will come next but also make the decisions at critical times to put new practices in place. Those who seek answers beyond the assumptions of the pre-COVID world will be at an advantage.

Reopening America means big changes for the health care industry. Are you equipped to meet the challenges alone?

Collaboration will be a critical part of navigating the new normal of healthcare. Speak to us today to learn how we can help you tap your virtual possibilities.

Woman lying in hospital bed humanizing healthcare

Almost daily for the past two months, we have heard stories of the challenges that clinicians are facing because of COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, the task of humanizing healthcare was instrumental in ensuring that patients could receive essential care while maintaining their dignity. Now, at a time when patients—many of whom are vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with preexisting conditions—are having to deal with the restrictions of a socially distanced world, protecting that humanity is more important than ever.

The purpose of this article is to explain how virtual health can help clinicians provide their patients with complete, empathic care and to offer some strategies for keeping patient dignity intact.

How Virtual Health Is Humanizing Healthcare

Despite the perception that virtual health technology removes the human-to-human connection between clinicians and patients, the tools that we have at our disposal today actually help to further humanize healthcare. Virtual health services and technologies allow for care that is better informed and personalized to meet everyone’s needs. Some applications that hospitals and clinics have already implemented include:

  • Information sharing between physicians for improved continuous care
  • Remote patient monitoring for better insight into patients’ health
  • Telehealth to increase patient access to care
  • Care management processes for improved patient understanding of their treatment plan

More than merely a way for patients to meet with their providers over videoconference software, virtual health technologies allow for remote care that complements in-person visits and treatments. With better access and understanding, patients are able to advocate for themselves and receive care without having to visit a healthcare facility.

As we have seen recently, a drastic increase in patient visits can quickly overwhelm physicians and nurses. Virtual health also frees time for clinicians to provide care for more patients, which can lower the incidence of physician burnout and nurse burnout, creating an environment that fosters best practices for clinician-patient interactions.

How Clinicians Can Continue Humanizing Healthcare during and after COVID-19

Even when the world is not in the middle of a pandemic, being a clinician is intellectually and emotionally challenging work. In almost no other profession is death such a regular occurrence. Yet, those who take care of people’s health are expected to carry out mentally rigorous tasks while real suffering takes place right in front of them. It’s no wonder that patient dehumanization is so common.

When we say “humanizing healthcare,” this is what we are talking about—making sure that we treat everyone with the dignity and respect that any human deserves. Though that can be difficult psychologically, maintaining that respect is possible with a few simple steps. Created by Sam Brown, M.D., of the Center for Humanizing Critical Care, the “dinner party” rules are easy to put into practice:

  • Always knock before entering a patient’s room.
  • Ask for permission before touching a patient, especially when treatment requires touching that might be uncomfortable.
  • Speak to coma patients as if they can hear you.
  • Incorporate and involve loved ones in patient treatment when possible.

When you are treating a patient, putting yourself in their position can help you empathize. Imagine how little control they have over their situation. By doing these little things, you can give them some agency to create a better treatment experience. According to Dr. Brown, “What is highest in us as human beings is our capacity to think and to care and to honor.” We agree with that statement.

Talk to us today if you are interested in learning more about implementing virtual health solutions in your practice.

How the Chief Medical Officer role in systems Changed During COVID-19

The shortage of PPE is an ongoing issue in the U.S., and while many organizations are stepping up to help provide equipment, more help is needed. Clinical staff members are running short on protective equipment and are improvising in hopes of remaining safe. Non-clinical hospital staff has not been recently trained on the proper use of PPE. They need to be re-educated on adequate hygiene in clinical areas because this has not traditionally been a concern. Insufficient supplies of PPE make it impossible to equip patients’ families, which means that difficult conversations must often be held without family members present. The Chief Medical Officer role is often at the center of communications between clinical and non-clinical staff to ensure safe and effective care of patients. COVID-19 has underscored gaps in the system and organizational structures that must be addressed when the pandemic is over. Additional contingencies will need to be established to deal with pandemics, including access to flex healthcare professionals, budget exceptions to order critical supplies, communications protocols, emergency virtual practice management procedures and safety standards.  

 

The Chief Medical Officer role in health systems influences healthcare technology

 

The Chief Medical Officer role has evolved over the past decade to include technology acquisition and implementation, as well as process improvement. COVID-19 has shown us that the stress on both ambulatory and inpatient capacity can be reduced by telehealth screening, without risking viral transmission. The risk to healthcare professionals can be reduced via virtual consults, either on-premises in a safe location or completely off-site. Low-risk patients can be quickly assessed and treated with medication, allowing the healthcare system to focus on those at the highest risk.  

 

At Mount Sinai (U.S.), until recently, all pathologists had to be on-site to analyze biopsy slides, but since the U.S. government loosened regulations following the outbreak, they are permitted to read digital slides at home, preventing delays in critical patient care. While the digitization of healthcare data has been the key contributor to physician burnout, if the Chief Medical Officer role can work with hospital administration and physicians champions to balance demands in a more manageable way, access to technology that supports virtual clinical assessments can reinforce the safety goals of the healthcare system, as well as provide flex capabilities and community access in times of need.

 

Communication across roles must take priority

 

Previously, the healthcare industry has prioritized role-specific functions. There has been a workflow of communication down the line, but the loop has been closed otherwise. The same can be said for the Chief Medical Officer role and their duties.

 

What we have learned from COVID-19 is that communication and working in a more collaborative manner is vital. Clinical thought leaders across the continuum of care have a responsibility to explore all the virtual possibilities that healthcare has to offer. The Coronavirus pandemic has taught us that this expands far beyond what was previously thought to be necessary.

Coronavirus known as COVID-19 is a respiratory virus spread from person-to-person. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. There are numerous rumors circulating regarding transmission and protection. As COVID-19 spreads throughout the U.S., Medical Staff Professionals face unique challenges to support their practitioners and keep patients safe. In response, we’ve launched a COVID-19 Task Force that provides resources and solutions for primary care practice facilities, hospitals, and health systems as they navigate COVID-19. Our task force is taking great care to sort through fact vs. fiction and provide you with the latest, accurate information.

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