14 Apr COVID-19 Ushers In A New Era Of Telehealth
All of us are currently wrestling with new challenges.
Whether you are directly diagnosing and treating COVID-19 or trying to keep your patients healthy from other ailments, this pandemic has forever altered the way we handle patient care.
Telehealth is not a new phenomenon but for many providers looking to stay in contact with patients, it has become a new, albeit, intimidating undertaking. The federal government has made offering telehealth much easier by easing reimbursement restrictions and relaxing HIPAA guidelines for fair use applications to provide healthcare easily. This means reaching your patients with the ability to bill insurance fairly has gotten that much easier.
In addition, telehealth has been reported to be an effective means for patient care:
In a report conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services in 2016 entitled Telehealth: Mapping, there was high evidence of positive patient outcomes due to telehealth. This report is based on research conducted by the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center under contract to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality which was seeking information on the efficacy of telehealth for individuals living with cardiac, pulmonary, or psychological conditions.
Researchers identified 1,494 citations about telehealth, from which 58 systematic reviews met the inclusion criteria. Among their important findings, “A large volume of research reported that telehealth interventions produce positive outcomes when used for remote patient monitoring, broadly defined, for several chronic conditions and for psychotherapy as part of behavioral health. The most consistent benefit has been reported when telehealth is used for communication and counseling or remote monitoring in chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease, with improvements in outcomes such as mortality, quality of life, and reductions in hospital admissions.”
Although this report encompasses a subset of medical specialties, it is promising news for the healthcare industry as a whole and the need for remote patient care.
Necessity Is The Mother Of Invention – Proverb
It is amazing to see the number of providers who have added telemedicine as an option for patient care over the last 30 days, really espousing that anything is possible. As a healthcare marketing firm, it’s been a remarkable challenge to help them communicate with patients and to help mold their telehealth strategy effectively.
One of the biggest concerns had was patient perception – would patients value a telehealth visit.
According to a very recent study by SYKES Enterprises, patient acceptance and willingness to use telemedicine is higher than you may think.
In a 2000-person study, over 90% of participants have either already had a telehealth appointment or are willing to partake in one.
In addition, nearly 60% are more willing to utilize telemedicine due to COVID-19.
There is a huge opportunity for telemedicine now and into the future as it becomes the norm.
How to get started with telemedicine?
With the recent HIPAA adjustments made, you can use any standard platform like Facetime, Skype, or Zoom to have private correspondence with patients. It is recommended that you look long-term however so that you can be set up for success for the long-haul.
Some great telehealth options to consider:
Free, Simple, and Secure for patient telecommunications. Premium features include enhanced levels of communication.
Offers telemedicine with some additional integrations with EMR and billing.
Provides telemedicine as well as incorporates remote patient monitoring.
These are just a few options to consider when deciding a permanent telehealth solution and depending on your patient’s needs, certain options are better than others.
Now that you have picked a platform, how should you communicate to patients the value of telemedicine?
Whether it is for an established patient or a new patient, having them understand what goes into a telehealth visit is the easiest way to bridge the gap. Ways to communicate to patients include:
- Sending An E-Newsletter – if you already collect patient emails, this is a great way to alert patients about your new service line while also communicating its importance.
- Adding A Website Alert– whether it is a pop-up or banner across the top, this alert will help to inform patients.
- Posting On Social Media – the patients that follow you as well as prospective patients researching you can learn more about telemedicine right on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter page, and more!
Ways to communicate to prospective patients:
- Updated SEO Strategy – would your website come up for telemedicine keyword searches? Is the metadata of your website updated with clear telemedicine call-to-action in search engine listings? These are all important, especially during this ongoing outbreak.
- Modified Website CTA– aside from adding alerts to your website, when patients go to request an appointment online, are they given an option for telemedicine? This is important to prospective patients as it builds legitimacy to your service offering.
- Updated Ads Targeting – if you are currently running any digital ads, have they been updated to reflect telehealth services? This is very important.
At Prescription PR, we are here to help you get through this outbreak. Our team of experienced healthcare marketing professionals can not only help provide telehealth guidance but also help you to market this new service.
We hope you stay safe and healthy!
If you have questions or concerns, please drop us a line here!