By Michael May
Telemedicine has been one of the most talked-about topics over the past few months, what with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. Self-isolation and quarantine regimes imposed by the government have meant that such digital initiatives have made more ground than could have been previously anticipated. When it comes to primary care online, statistics indicate that 99% of general practices have set up some ways for their patients to access care remotely.
What was previously a niche offering has certainly become mainstream and looks like it’s here to stay, so let’s examine how you can make the most out of telemedicine in your practice.
Telemedicine in Your Medical Specialty
It’s not only general practice that has been swept up in this paradigm shift toward digital healthcare provision. All kinds of specialities have had to embrace online consultations alongside the traditionally accepted telephone consultations, and you have almost certainly been affected whether you are a doctor, nurse, practice manager or whoever else. While reliance on telemedicine is expected to drop as the pandemic subsides, it will remain an incredibly useful part of your toolkit.
Here are just some examples of which kinds of specialities have been using telemedicine that you can try to your advantage:
- Use online consultations for existing patients and can be used to carry out screening calls for new ones in mental health
- Adopt a blood pressure monitoring program in primary care that works by giving patients access to equipment that syncs with your practice management software
- Take a virtual approach to geriatric care and stop making elderly patients take trips to visit you in person when it’s not always necessary
While telemedicine is undoubtedly useful to you, it’s vital that you ensure your patients are finding it beneficial too. Some of the benefits even overlap to create a win-win situation for you and your patients alike.
Here’s how you can help your patients leverage telemedicine for all it’s worth:
- Utilise an online consultation to screen for COVID-19 symptoms and provide remote support
- Help vulnerable patients to access healthcare when they otherwise can’t physically get to your clinic
- Handle medication previews and repeat prescriptions
- Triage and validate patients to see whether your services are appropriate
5 Simple Steps to Getting Started with Telemedicine in Your Clinic
Running video consultations in place of the physical appointments that are more familiar to you doesn’t have to be a daunting task. There are just as many similarities as there are differences between the approach you need to take. While you obviously can’t conduct a proper examination on your patients over the phone or video link, you certainly still can take a good medical history. Let’s take a look at 5 simple steps you can take to ensure that telemedicine works well for you and your patients.
1Set up automated notifications by text and email to:
Confirm video consultations with patients and remind them how to access your telemedicine platform
Ensure that patients remember about their upcoming appointment
2Create an online booking button for your website and social media pages to:
- Give patients the option to see your live availability
- Track how well your patient acquisition channels are performing
3Offer patients the chance to give you their feedback to:
- Fix issues that could be causing people to lose trust in your services
- Publicise the ways in which you have solved problems for patients
4Train your receptionists and other non-clinical staff to:
- Inform patients of the benefits of telemedicine
- Troubleshoot technical issues ahead of video consultations
- Encourage bookings with the help of scripts and prompts
5Use a combined telemedicine and practice management system to:
- Manage bookings and medical information on a single screen
- Conduct your video consultations while typing your notes
- Offer your patients a stable, secure and compliant telemedicine solution
You Don’t Get a Second Chance at a First Impression
The very fact that you have started offering telemedicine appointments is often going to be one of the factors that pushed a prospective patient into choosing your clinic. The last thing you want to do is make them regret that decision due to your unfamiliarity with technology or lack of a well-considered approach to video consulting. Guarantee that you make the right first impression and leverage this opportunity to grow your patient list.
Here are some straightforward tips to build your patients’ trust right from the start:
- Prepare your environment carefully so that the background is clear and the focus is on you as a practitioner
- Check that your audio and video are working as they should be, so your consultation doesn’t end up being a tech troubleshooting session
- Position your camera so that patients can see your face and it looks like your attention is undivided
- Ensure that your telemedicine app is open separately from your medical notes so you can easily focus on both
- Ask your patients whether they have any concerns about the consulting format as it’s best to address this right away
- Take a few minutes to check that you and your patients are agreed on the main problems and solutions of the session
How to Use Medesk Meet for Telemedicine in Your Clinic
Medesk Meet is an integral part of the Medesk practice management software, offering a comprehensive way of managing your clinic and carrying out your consultations all on the same platform. It has been specially designed to be easy for clinicians to adapt to while staying patient-friendly.
Here’s how Medesk Meet works for video consultations in 5 easy steps:
- Patients book via your online booking system or your receptionist places a booking on the Medesk schedule directly
- A unique video link is generated and a confirmation SMS and/or email is sent to the patient
- Automated reminders are scheduled to be sent before the appointment along with any additional instructions required
- Patients download the Medesk Meet app and log in, while doctors click the Connect button directly from their diary
- The video consultation will start
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to adopting video consultations in your clinic but, really, most of it is common sense. It’s ultimately a case of adapting to a changing environment in the best way that you can. Medesk provides you with the digital tools you need to give your patients the care they deserve.
Michael May, MA (Oxon) BMBCh, is Business Development Manager for Medesk – Practice Management Software for Better Quality of Care.