As we continue our series on implementing telemedicine successfully, we are diving into how to get patients onboard. The data suggests patients are open to using telemedicine. But it's up to you to help them along to make it happen. Once you have chosen your telehealth technology and implemented it effectively, you need to begin scheduling patients. Here is how to get them scheduled, using telemedicine, and feeling good about it.
How will you get your patients to use telehealth and virtual visits?
You may be surprised to hear that this part isn’t as hard as you might think. Seventy-four percent of patients say they are happy to use telehealth and virtual visit services. In addition, one study showed that patients feel that about 85 percent of the time virtual care resolved their concerns as well as an in-person visit. It’s really more a matter of communication. Patients need to know if you are changing their visit from face-to-face to virtual. They also need to know how to participate. So make sure:
- When the patient calls to schedule, you are clear about the type of visit it will be. This should be defined in your clinical guidelines. If they have a choice between telephone and video encounters, ask them which is better for them. You can encourage the face-to-face video but listen to their concerns. They may not have access to reliable internet. Then, tell them how they will participate. Will the provider call them or vice versa? Will they get a link and instructions via text or email ahead of their video visit? If they can’t get on the video visit, how do they get help?
- Make sure to address other important considerations at scheduling or in a communication before the appointment. These would include:
- Does patient need to download app?
- What technology do they need or can they use? Computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.
- Do they have reliable internet?
- If it’s a phone encounter, let patients know what number/phone you’ll be calling and from what number you will be dialing from.
- Be thoughtful about patient privacy. Suggest the patient be prepared in a private and quiet space for the visit.
- Address any accessibility issues when you schedule the visit such as language barrier, hearing issues, etc.
- Ask if a primary care partner need to be included as well.
- Remind patients to be prepared—insurance cards, pen and paper, symptoms/concerns
- It’s a good idea to have a super user, or small team of super users (depending on the size of your organization), who can provide any needed support to patients before or during video encounters. Make sure patients and staff know who to call or text for help if there is a problem.
- Be sure that when you speak with patients, you verify their contact information and do your best to get preferences for communication and consent as needed. In this world of virtual workflows and rapid changes, you need to be able to reach patients, sometimes at very short notice.
How else can you make this the best experience for patients?
The truth is that remote care is different than face-to-face care. Patients are open to it, and it can be just as effective, but you do need to take a few additional steps to make sure that it is all is can be. So, consider these telehealth and virtual etiquette tips along with everything else we have covered so far:
- Adjust the camera so the provider fills the screen and they patients can’t see a bunch of other distracting things like posters. If the patient can see surroundings, keep them clear of clutter.
- Wear solid neutral colors. Try to avoid fluorescent colors, bright reds, and white is possible. In other words, drop the lab coat. No bold patters or big jewelry. Check yourself in the mirror before each visit.
- Check the lighting and close blinds to avoid glare.
- Speak slowly and clearly and look at the camera not your own reflections in the monitor. Speak in your normal voice and don’t shout.
- Do not place papers or objects near the microphone. Check to be sure the microphone isn’t near a fan, A/C unit or open window.
- Always introduce yourself with your name and the facility you are calling from.
- If using a desktop or laptop, move the video screen just under the camera so they get the feeling the provider is making eye contact with the patient.
For more details on how to implement telemedicine successfully, download this complete guide.