Telehealth: Taking Your Practice to Your Patients


 

Alison Talleri
Director of Marketing, Azalea Health
[email protected]

 

The verdict is in; the fight to gain—and retain—patients has never been more fierce, and while none of us would devalue “face time” with our healthcare providers, there is certainly something to be said for FaceTime with our providers. It’s not a unique discovery, really. Smart brands and businesses have already long understood the value of engaging with consumers where they most want to receive that interaction—through the web, over the phone—at their fingertips.

That notion holds true for healthcare, too. Take telehealth, for example. As legislative hurdles are cleared and the relative infancy of the overall movement matures (let’s not forget that EHRs were the next big thing at one point, too), more and more providers are making telehealth an important piece of their overall business plan.

At its core, telehealth offers the freedom to find, meaningfully engage and retain loyal patients without being chained to their willingness to make the drive to your office.

As healthcare continues to move away from a paper-based landscape, it’s increasingly obvious that the benefits to considering telehealth are many. There’s the more clear upside of increased retention through expanded access—offering current patients the benefit of a more convenient way to stay connected and engaged in their wellness. Time and money are saved, missed and no-show appointments are curbed. The barriers of access to travel or the ability to plan around work or family schedules, or having to transport a sick or aging patient are removed, making telehealth an excellent option in both suburban and rural care settings.

Engagement levels have a new opportunity to flourish. Recent studies found that nearly 70 percent of patients reported that they were comfortable communicating with their providers via text, email or video in lieu of a face-to-face visit.1 American Well’s Telehealth Index: 2017 Consumer Survey found that 60 percent of consumers who are willing to have an online telehealth visit use the service to help manage a chronic condition, a clear sign of willingness to not only utilize the service, but to do so actively.2

Then there’s the potential for telehealth to reach beyond a practice or hospital’s current base to become a marketing tool; the same American Well survey found that nearly 50 million consumers would switch healthcare providers to one that offers telehealth, up from just 17 million in 2015. Among those, parents with children under the age of 18 and patients 35 to 44 years old reported the highest likelihood to switch.3 Promoting a practice’s use of telehealth is an attractive message to patients who seek to balance both flexibility and familiarity with their healthcare provider.

There are certainly challenges to implementing a telehealth strategy. Workflow adjustments, reimbursement and regulatory nuances, promoting awareness and adoption in the early stages with patients, to name a few. But the simple math says that patients want to see providers who offer telehealth capabilities. Happy patients make the most loyal patients, and the most likely to refer others as well.

The time for healthcare providers to take their practices straight to their patients is here. The opportunity to rethink the definition and value of face time in healthcare is now.

End Notes:

 

  1. Survey: 76% of Patients Would Choose Telehealth Over Human Contact, available at http://hitconsultant.net/2013/03/08/survey-patients-would-choose-telehealth-over- human-contact/.
  2. Survey: American Well Telehealth Index: 2017 Consumer Survey, summary available at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/one-in-five-consumers-would-switch-to-a-doctor-that-offers-telehealth-visits-300394562.html#continue-jump
  3. Survey: American Well Telehealth Index: 2017 Consumer Survey, summary available at http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/one-in-five-consumers-would-switch-to-a-doctor-that-offers-telehealth-visits-300394562.html#continue-jump

 

 

 

 

 

 

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