Many people, especially the younger generations, prefer convenience over traditional face to face interaction. And most can agree that not having to leave your house or deal with waiting rooms is quite beneficial. For those who use telehealth, there is a very high satisfaction rate. However, the problem is that only 19% of the population uses telehealth when it is offered by their provider. As the need for telehealth skyrockets during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important as clinicians to identify and address barriers preventing patients from adopting telehealth services, as well as what clinicians can do to get more patients on board.
1. Increase Awareness
One of the main reasons telehealth is not seeing the use it could is because many patients simply are not aware of the option available to them, especially if they have not been informed by their routine provider. As a trusted professional, a clinician informing his or her patient about the ability to meet remotely is much more likely to encourage them to use it than hearing about it from anyone else. Worrying about whether their insurance will cover them is an obstacle holding patients back from using telehealth, so being informed by their insurer or employer could also help increase adoption of these services.
Referrals work wonders in increasing telehealth use. Whenever possible, clinicians and their administrative staff should try to raise awareness of telehealth options by spreading the word to their families and friends, especially during a time where the healthcare field is being overwhelmed by risky in-person visits.
Marketing is crucial in informing patients about the benefits of telehealth. Digital marketing ads or email campaigns targeting relevant populations can help boost adoption. Social media has a massive influence on society, so spreading awareness via social media campaigns is another option to increase telehealth use. Ways of giving feedback, such as online surveys or ratings, can help spread the word as well.
2. Ensure Quality of Care
A common misconception about telehealth is that the quality of care received will be lower due to communication barriers. Research suggests, however, that the quality of care using telehealth is just as effective, if not better, when compared with face to face visits. Studies conducted on the effectiveness of telehealth and telemedicine as an evidence-based treatment have observed higher patient loyalty to providers. Possible reasons for higher quality of care include less distraction for both patient and provider as well as better access and more consistent engagement. Patients must be aware if their providers have a telehealth option, as they will be able to continue receiving care from the same clinician, which will help preserve quality of care.
3. Emphasize Convenience
Convenience is the number one benefit telehealth has over an in-person visit, which is the reason telehealth was developed. Being able to talk in real-time with a provider from the comfort of their own homes, eliminate travel time and costs, avoid a crowded waiting room, and set an appointment with flexible hours are what make telehealth worth using. When learning about what it is, patients should also be made aware of these strengths, along with the fact that it is safe. During these uncertain and scary times, safety is of the utmost importance. Speaking with a clinician over video chat, over the phone, or over text, allows the patient to minimize their risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Now, more than ever in the history of telehealth, there is a need to access these services. It should be as simple as possible to access as well. Mobile friendliness is a feature that makes telehealth more accessible. Many platforms allow you to do this while remaining secure and HIPAA compliant. Zoobook Systems in particular allows access via smartphone without the need to download an app from the app store; with the click of a link the patient is instantly connected. If you are a provider with the ability to treat patients with telemedicine, it will help for your patients to realize how easily they can access this type of care, as well as its benefits.
ONE MORE THING TO KEEP IN MIND
Many providers are opting for FREE or cheap telehealth platforms with low resolution video, low security encryption, and unreliable connections. This is the next crisis on the horizon related to telehealth – quality of experience. Zoobook provides a telehealth platform that is fully integrated with our EHR enabling clinicians to access clinical documents during the session. Zoobook’s Telehealth feature provides 4K hi-resolution video with error resilience technology meaning video continues even in low bandwidth areas (great for mobile users). Ease of use is paramount – most users can access sessions easily from their phone or computer by simply clicking a link – no apps to add. Both Hippa and SOC 2 compliant, Zoobook’s Telehealth feature has 256-bit encryption for the highest security. Provide your clients with the best user experience.