6 Ways Telehealth Services Increase Patient Satisfaction
Telehealth has rapidly grown in recent years, with over half of U.S. hospitals offering some sort of telemedicine services. Medical practices are also adopting these services to expand patient access to care and cut back on lengthy waiting room times. Between 2017 and 2023, the global market for telemedicine is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 16.8%.
Telemedicine leverages the internet, video, and voice chat to deliver medical care for routine appointments, consultations, diagnosis and more from any location that is digitally enabled. This allows doctors to offer “virtual house calls” without time-consuming travel. To determine whether telehealth services are the right choice for your practice, and to get helpful advice on how to navigate billing and improve patient satisfaction through the right partner, check out these six benefits.
- Telemedicine provides faster delivery and improved outcomes
The faster a visit to the doctor’s office, the quicker the patient can start treatment and get on the path to healing. However, many patients delay treatment because they don’t want the hassle of calling to make an appointment, taking time off work and clearing other hurdles to free up their time to get care. As a result, healthcare challenges can get worse and have adverse impacts on the patient’s health. A recent study showed that with telemedicine, patients:
- Had 38% fewer hospital admissions
- Had 31% fewer hospital re-admissions
- Spent 63% fewer days in the hospital
- Were more engaged in their healthcare
Telemedicine breaks down barriers to care and encourages people to get in touch with their doctor faster. Instead of delaying treatment, patients can get in touch with their doctor’s office, make an appointment, and spend significantly less time obtaining medical advice and getting on the right path to treatment. Better access to medical care is also provided to patients in rural regions and outside normal areas of care.
- Telemedicine saves time and money
Telemedicine is a large time-saver. A 2017 survey found the average telemedicine visit takes 13 to 15 minutes, while an in-person visit takes around two hours. Additionally, patients can get a telemedicine appointment much faster. The average wait time for an in-person new-patient appointment can be as long as 24 days; with telemedicine, it’s only 20 minutes.
Scheduling is also easier. A 2019 survey found that 79% of respondents perceived telemedicine as more convenient for scheduling. Eighty-three percent felt that the care was as good as or better than an in-person visit, and 66% felt personally connected to their telehealth practitioner.
Other benefits include the following:
- About 21% of patients said that not having to travel to the doctor’s visit was the top benefit of telemedicine, and 20% said the top benefit was the ability to receive care from their home.
- About 53% of patients reported that telemedicine either somewhat or significantly improved their involvement in treatment decisions.
- About 21% of patients who have used telemedicine reported that the quality of care was similar to or higher than an in-person visit.
Telemedicine also helps patients save money. One study found that telemedicine visits saved patients anywhere from $19 to $120 per visit. At a time when cost is a major barrier to getting a diagnosis and treatment, cost savings are a large advantage.
Consider adopting tools that provide greater transparency in healthcare cost, and make affordable care much easier.
Talking about the cost of service upfront improves patient satisfaction and allows the patient to have greater visibility into and trust in your practice.
- Telemedicine enhances traditional medicine
Telemedicine doesn’t have to be an “either-or” proposition. Many practices welcome telemedicine as an addition to their in-person practice to reach more patients. This type of service can support, rather than replace, traditional medical care.
If a patient is taking new medication, you may want to check in for a quick discussion about progress and potential side effects. This patient can be seen through a telemedicine visit at a lower cost.
Patient satisfaction can also be improved through the fast and direct communication that telehealth provides. Patients are spending most of their time during an in-person visit in the waiting room or in the exam room waiting for the doctor. Telemedicine cuts out this wasted time for the patient. With many patients complaining that they don’t have enough time with the doctor, this approach allows them to spend direct quality time with their provider.
- Patients can get medication easier
Many steps are typically involved in getting medication, but telemedicine makes it easier for patients to get access to and refill their existing prescription. For example, consider a situation where a patient has frequent heartburn and needs to talk about the available options. That patient could schedule a telehealth visit, have a 15-to-20-minute consultation with a doctor and consider the best option moving forward.
Alternatively, consider a situation where a patient is taking medication on an ongoing basis for a health condition. The doctor wants to see that patient every few months to check on their condition and progress. A full visit is time-consuming and costly, but a televisit is fast, inexpensive and more convenient for the patient. The patient can have a quick 15-to-20-minute visit from the comfort of their home and may be able to fill their prescription online and have it shipped to their home, eliminating the need to spend countless hours on this task.
- Practices can improve patient engagement
The demands of patients are fast-changing, and patients expect more today from their medical practice. This is compounded by the fact that people are paying a larger portion of their medical bills, due in part to high-deductible insurance plans. In other corners of business, people are experiencing hyper-connected digital experiences, greater convenience and fast delivery. These expectations spill over into expectations around medical care.
Telemedicine allows you to deliver a hyperconnected, faster experience and enhance patient engagement. A patient might need a follow-up appointment but might not wish to return because of the amount of time a visit takes and the large out-of-pocket costs due to a high-deductible insurance plan. A telemedicine visit greatly improves the patient’s experience through a less expensive type of appointment and faster delivery. Additionally, you can combine telehealth with a patient engagement platform to further elevate the experience.
ClearGage offers a patient engagement platform that can be strategically designed to nurture relationships at critical touch points throughout the patient journey. This solution minimizes patient frustration by building greater engagement and streamlining patient communication methods.
For example, there are many questions around the cost of telehealth. In addition to providing an accurate estimate upfront, as discussed earlier, you can use ClearGage’s engagement platform to follow up after the visit to remind the patient about affordable payment options. The patient can then set up easy, personalized payment options directly from their mobile device.
- Practices can easily outshine competitors
Offering telemedicine allows you to stand out from competitors. Many patients want a more convenient experience, and when you work to offer that experience, they will continue returning to your practice. Additionally, they’ll recommend you to friends and family, leave positive online patient reviews, and help you grow your practice.
Some patients will continue to prefer in-person office visits, but a segment of your patients may opt for telemedicine appointments due to time savings. For example, a patient can schedule a 20-minute appointment during a lunch break at work and still have time to eat. Patients can also attend appointments from the comfort of their home without worries about coordinating logistics, such as taking time off work or arranging a babysitter for the children. Adding this level of convenience will quickly make you a favorite with your patients and add to the success of your practice.
Evolving into the future
The possibilities around telemedicine continue to change and evolve. New technology, greater digitalization and more powerful devices mean that new applications and uses are being created all the time.
Adopting telemedicine allows you to reach patients who wouldn’t normally seek care, or to see patients more frequently. Practices can use telemedicine to make it easier to balance the demands of the practice with the convenience their patients want most. Combined with additional healthcare payment solutions from a partner like ClearGage, you’ll be able to further increase patient satisfaction and patients will continue to return and spread the word about what your practice offers.