Today’s patients have a wide variety of options when it comes to receiving care. One such option is a third-party virtual care solution. These applications boast the benefits of having a doctor, essentially, right in your pocket. So how do these services affect patient experience and what does that mean for the average practice? Let’s explore.
What are Virtual Care Solutions?
Imagine you’re sick and are in need of a consultation, but the prospect of traveling to a doctor’s office is challenging for whatever reason. With virtual care solutions, the issue of travel is removed from the equation. Patients can receive medical care without the need for travel, and healthcare providers can expand their reach to underserved or remote areas.
Depending on the application, care is available for issues typically addressed in an urgent care setting, primary care such as check-ups, mental health, dermatology, specialist consultation, nutrition, smoking cessation, and more. Insurance is often accepted, and there are also self-pay options for those without coverage.
3 Ways Virtual Care Solutions Affect the Patient Experience
As you might imagine, the presence of virtual care solutions has an impact on the patient experience. Here are three of the ways that impact becomes apparent:
- Increased convenience. The ability to receive care from anywhere reduces the disruption that medical care can often represent. This convenience is very attractive to patients who prefer to receive the care they need on their own timeline.
- More accessible patient care. There are entire communities in the United States that are medically underserved. Telemedicine improves access to care, regardless of the patient’s location, helping to reach those that otherwise might go without care.
- Cost savings. Telemedicine appointments mean less time off work, no need for childcare, and the elimination of transportation costs. This all adds up to significant savings for patients who otherwise could incur costs outside of the actual doctor’s bill to attend an in-person visit.
What does this mean for practices?
If hearing about virtual care solutions and how they affect the patient experience makes you nervous, you’re not alone. A service like this can be disruptive to the entire industry, causing a sort of sea change for all practices to continue competing.
It’s possible that patients can become accustomed to the kind of convenience and ease of access they experience with virtual care solutions and, if that same sort of experience isn’t possible with their PCP, begin to seek care through a third-party app over their home practice on a regular basis. To avoid this sort of situation, practices must start considering how they can increase convenience for their patients, and one important way to do so is to offer robust telehealth services. Emphasize to your patients that it’s possible to enjoy the convenience of telehealth without losing the familiarity and continuity of care that comes with seeing their PCP.
Another possible impact is that if patients do seek care through a third-party application, it has the potential to deteriorate the patient/provider relationship and interrupt continuity of care, potentially leading to poor health outcomes. To combat this, practices must stress the importance of having accurate patient records, requesting that patients have records from third party care sent to the practice in order to keep an accurate record that will allow for solid decision making in terms of care.
Finally, practices must increase communication with their patients. Communicate when changes in availability come about, whether through extended hours or telehealth offerings, so that your patients are aware of when seeing their PCP is a viable option. Communicate with patients when routine and preventive care is needed to keep that relationship solid. And, again, communicate the importance of accurate records to achieving positive health outcomes so that when they do need to seek outside care, you are aware of what occurred.
Virtual care solutions have the ability to disrupt the healthcare industry, but practices who are proactive in prioritizing patient satisfaction will have an edge in competing in this landscape. With this in mind, Henry Schein SolutionsHub works diligently to identify the best-in-class solutions that help practices to create the convenience and streamlined experience that today’s patients are looking for.
To learn more about how SolutionsHub can help your practice to stay relevant in an ever-changing healthcare industry, visit henryscheinsolutionshub.com and speak to a Solutions Consultant today.