How to Increase Patient Engagement Through Telemedicine
7 Dec 2022
Telemedicine has confidently entered our lives due to the drastic changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the healthcare industry. It provides wider access to adequate medical care for more people while also increasing the number of patients and expanding the services offered by clinics, hospitals, and individual medical practices. Remote medical care is a valuable alternative that benefits both patients and doctors. However, one of the main challenges in this transition is engaging patients. This article will explore how digital healthcare providers can overcome this obstacle.
Scheduling an in-person medical visit involves making an appointment over the phone without written confirmation, remembering the upcoming visit, and organizing one’s day around the visit, considering factors such as traffic, weather, additional time at the registry, and potential delays. Additionally, there is the potential for direct contact with other sick patients in the waiting room and other unpredictable factors. It is undeniably better to avoid any obstacles that hurt the patient’s experience. In this case, telemedicine offers a better patient experience and higher engagement:
1. Patients are more engaged because of the high added value that virtual medical visits give them, thanks to fully remote connectivity with good medical specialists. The general practitioner could easily refer the patient for a follow-up consultation to a particular specialist in a specific medical field, which is now a click away, thanks to the incredible capabilities of telemedicine.
2. Online visits, where the patient is in the comfort of their home, predispose to increased engagement. Quite often, in people’s strive for optimal time management, they fail to make full use of it due to transportation delays, personal/family engagements, and their ongoing health issues. The comfort of home allows the patient to focus better on the online consultation, as time constraints do not pressure them.
3. A calm environment can be provided for continuous healthcare during remote examinations. It is common for in-person visitations to be interrupted by one of the healthcare facility’s medical or service staff, most often by another waiting patient in the queue. This inevitably affects patient satisfaction and leads to confusion and distraction. Online medical consultations minimize such inconveniences.
4. A scheduled doctor’s appointment may require dealing with logistical hurdles such as knowledge of the route to the medical practice, calculating additional time and costs for transportation, carefully coordinating free time or time away from the office, using a new type of transportation, and more.
Undoubtedly, the visit of a medical specialist in their office, located in another city, leads to even greater complications around planning the logistics for the examination itself. These barriers would not exist if the communication between doctor and patient was online, completely remote. In this case, telemedicine greatly aids patient engagement by taking off their shoulders the entire logistical process connected with a medical visit.
5. Depending on availability, getting an appointment with a specialist can take weeks, sometimes even months. Telemedicine provides an opportunity to avoid this obstacle, as many doctors have devoted some of their time only to online consultations. Response time is also significantly reduced. For example: after a short online visit regarding a child’s high temperature, a timely response can be obtained to bring it down without transporting the child to a health facility. This way, parents are more relaxed about their child’s health and share their satisfaction with telemedicine.
6. What stopped many people from visiting a doctor in person during the pandemic was contact with other patients in the waiting room. Even with masks, many still feel uncomfortable waiting for their appointment in front of the medical office. If people’s fear of contagion is removed, they will likely be more engaged with the medical professional during their visit.
7. Weather conditions heavily define the mood of patients when they leave home for the doctor’s practice. Apart from that, they can also seriously hinder movement if they are unfavorable. Considering that the patient is already experiencing some health problems, they would prefer not to worsen their overall condition and symptoms by exposing themselves to unpredictable weather conditions. Remote health care offers the alternative of conducting a single examination in a protected and controlled environment where the patient determines the temperature, lighting, humidity, and overall microclimate. This would undoubtedly lead to increased patient engagement.
Patients appreciate the convenience of virtual care as it improves their health outcomes and eliminates the added costs and effort associated with in-person medical exams. While virtual consultations cannot always fully replace face-to-face meetings, they can be a valuable option in many cases. The digital health application Medrec:M facilitates this by providing a secure platform for remote examinations and allowing for easy sharing of a patient’s complete medical history with treating or supervising medical professionals with just one click. To learn more about the features of this application, you can download it from the provided link.