When is the right time to schedule a telehealth visit over an in-person visit?
It is likely that, by now, you have experienced the convenience of a telehealth visit. With the occurrence of the viral outbreak, for many, virtual video visits presented as the only option for visits to your doctor’s office. As many states begin to open back up and allow for a wide array of appointments, providers try to balance telehealth visits and in-person visits. When it comes down to it, both visit types offer different benefits and drawbacks. Practices need to consider not only what works best for their patients but for their organizations as well. Let’s talk about in-person visits vs. telehealth and how practices can work towards balancing the two moving forward.
In-Person Medical Exams
When patients enter your office, they connect with not only your staff but you as a provider on a personal level. For many patients, and providers alike, this plays a very important role in their overall satisfaction when it comes to visiting their physician. (Plus, many providers chose to go into medicine to build these strong relationships with their patients while providing care!) In-person visits also do not limit what providers are able to test or examine during the visit. Depending on the availability of services at the practice, patients may be able to get all tests done within their appointment time and reduce the need for follow-up appointments outside of reviewing results.
Many patients feel as if in-person visits are rushed. This is no fault of providers, but that of the regulatory burden and pressure placed on them to bring in revenue. According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, physicians on average spend nearly 27% of their office day with their patients for face to face visits. 49% of their day is spent doing desk work directly related to their EHR. This lack of attention to their patients makes physicians seem insensitive to patients who leave the office feeling unheard. To add to this, patients often have wait times in the waiting room, and long commutes when traveling for in-person visits.
Virtual video visits provides patients with convenient care when needed. Telehealth eliminates transportation barriers, long commutes, and makes healthcare accessible for more individuals. To add to this, patients utilizing telehealth visits also no longer spend excess time in waiting rooms which aided in increasing satisfaction with providers. Most insurance companies and Medicare also dictate a certain window of time expected for a telehealth visit to last. This allows providers to build their schedule around expected time frames for telehealth visits and eliminate over scheduling.
Deciding to utilize telehealth services at your practice will come at a cost. Not only will your organization need to pay for software, they may also need to pay for training on the new system. Virtual care (may) eliminates the personal connection that many providers enjoy building with their patient base. To add to this, f a patient needs additional testing, they need to go to your office or another offsite health facility to receive care. This results in more money being spent by insurance or out of pocket. There is a chance that some of the patients at your practice will be hesitant to move towards this virtual way of care. Balancing in-person visits and telehealth (when/where possible) should be considered at your practice to accommodate a variety of patient needs and preferences..
Balancing Telehealth & In-Person Visits
In the “new normal” of ambulatory care, it isn’t outlandish to assume that the care delivery will change. Telehealth provided the healthcare community with a crutch to provide care throughout the viral outbreak when it was essential to minimize exposure risk. With that being said, it remains a viable option for care after the outbreak ends. For many practices, it is practical to create an office space where both telehealth and in-person appointment types exist. This helps to eliminate a filled waiting room, boost revenue, and to see more patients throughout the day without minimizing the amount of time spent face-to-face in the exam room.
For some practices, implementing a hybrid appointment schedule for both telehealth and in-person visits might mean a longer work day. Consider offering telehealth visits for appointments that fall outside of your normal schedule. This may open your practice up to more patients. This may also allow you to conduct care from the privacy of your home where you can continue to complete necessary documentation.
Are you looking for a telehealth solution for your practice? MicroMD Virtual Visits powered by Medpod provides your practice with the convenient and flexible care options. Learn more at micromd.com/marketplace or call us at 800.624.8832.
About the author,
Savanna is the Marketing Communication Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. She schedules emails to clients, prospects, and VARs, manages social media accounts, performs research, writes blogs and eBooks, and much more while helping to support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.
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