Telehealth’s meteoric rise began just as the pandemic took off, and all indications suggest it’s here to stay. States that were once unwilling to reimburse for virtual visits are now onboard. Some have even passed parity legislation requiring insurers to reimburse equally for in-person visits and virtual visits.
So why, with all that momentum behind telehealth, are some providers still reluctant to use it?
Common reasons cited by providers reluctant to jump into telehealth include uncertainty about change, lack of familiarity with the technology, and concerns about the perceived inefficiency in their day while toggling between in-person and telehealth visits. The good news is that providers who engage with Virtual Care quickly become true believers. In fact, many say that it enables them to practice at the top of their license. Independent analysis by McKinsey & Company shows continued strong popularity among consumers.
Over the past year, most enterprise healthcare organizations — including several leaders in the space such as Envision Healthcare, Concentra and Banner Health — moved quickly to build out their Virtual Care capabilities by partnering with telehealth companies. The dedicated customer success teams associated with telehealth platforms are a major asset. They help drive adoption and have their ear to end-users.
Here are four ways to help foster a Virtual Care transformation.
#1 Form a User Group & Showcase Power Users
For every provider who is reticent to use telehealth, there are many more who are embracing it. In fact, four out of five physicians used telehealth during the pandemic, according to a 2020 survey by Decision Resources Group involving nearly 5,000 practicing U.S. physicians.
One strategy is to get “power users” and non-users in the same room (or video call), where they can share and hash things out. A colleague’s testimonial is sometimes the nudge providers need to see telehealth in a different light.
– Ask power users what they like about telehealth. How do they make it work for their practice? What do their patients say about it?
– Ask non-users why they aren’t using telehealth. What would it take for them to get started?
As these two groups share their experiences, chances are the power users’ enthusiasm will rub off on everyone else.
#2 Demonstrate Ease of Use
Virtual Care platforms put a premium on convenience. If a person can use FaceTime to call a friend, they can schedule and participate in a Virtual Care appointment.
Virtual visits are just as simple on the provider side as well. But what about when providers and staff need to manage scheduling, charting, billing and other administrative functions? Well, a good end-to-end Virtual Care system makes that easy — and flexible — too.
A great example is a solid scheduler tool. Certain service lines or specialty areas can set each provider’s availability for telehealth, which creates predictability in the clinic schedule and lets providers control how many hours a week they wish to offer Virtual Care. They don’t have to go “all in” on telehealth, or they can if they wish. Telehealth systems should fit your needs and support whatever customers and their providers might desire.
#3 Highlight Training and Support
Telehealth is easy to use, but it isn’t always effortless and there are moments that require trouble-shooting. That’s why strong Technical Support is essential. Your telehealth provider should have a team of technology platform experts who are readily available to address any issues that pop up among all users.
Telehealth technology can take this one step further, with high-touch Technical Support for all users: providers, patients, schedulers/admins and data analysts. The leading telehealth platforms offer easy-to-use videos too. In just a few minutes, users can learn how to process billing, run reports and much more. And if they have a problem they can’t solve, hands-on technical assistance is just a phone call, text, or an email away.
#4 Emphasize Patient Satisfaction
Convenience. Cost savings. Safety. These are just a few reasons why patients say they like telehealth. According to Decision Resources Group’s annual physician survey, many doctors still have a concern about the quality of care delivery via telehealth. Yet a recent study by Harvard Business Review suggests that patients are more apt to give higher satisfaction ratings for telehealth than in-person care.
If nothing else sways providers to use telehealth, the promise of increased patient satisfaction should. After all, patient care is at the heart of everything providers do.