How do you drive patient appointment volume?
Zapclinica - Last updated : 5/5/2021, 7:19:51 AM
Once you've invested in a telemedicine solution, you may wonder how best to introduce it to your patients. Change is usually accepted one of three ways: readily, slowly or not at all. Chances are, you will have patients who will fit into each of these categories, yet there are specific steps you can take to increase the likelihood more patients will jump on board.
Studies consistently prove the majority of consumers would use telemedicine if it was offered, 74 percent of them, in fact. Convenience is a driving factor, clearly evidenced in the rise of urgent care facilities. While fewer than one-third of primary care practices offer after-hours care, 85 percent of urgent care facilities are open 7 days a week and 95 percent close after 7:00 P.M.
The truth is, most patients want to see a practitioner when they have the time, not the other way around. When asked why families decided to go to a retail clinic over their family doctor, 62 percent said it was because it was more convenient to see an available practitioner.
By implementing telemedicine in your practice, you are dramatically increasing your availability and improving customer convenience. Even your most skeptical patients have much to gain by using telemedicine so let's get started with the best practices in engaging them.
Steps to Get Started
While telemedicine may sound complicated to some of your patients, you can put a plan in motion to make it as simple as possible. The more you do on the back end, the smoother the front end will go. Don't worry, we have your back. Follow these 3 steps and you'll have telemedicine an integral part of your practice in no time.
Step 1: Categorize Appointments and Patients
What to Schedule
Many appointments are ideal for telemedicine, but not all are a perfect fit. Survey your typical appointments and phone calls to your practice to identify themes. How many of your appointments are:
- First-time, diagnostic appointments?
- Follow-up care?
- Calls to your nurses or other staff to discuss lab/imaging results?
- Prescription refill requests?
- You can create "buckets" that will make it easy to label "telemedicine-ready" or "in-office appointments only." To the right are common examples of which appointments are appropriate for video visits and which ones would be better suited for in-office appointments. Specific use case can vary by practice. You can decide when to use or not use telemedicine.
Who to Schedule
You will also need to identify which patients are good candidates for telemedicine. Nowadays, most people have the technology needed for a video visit, however it is a good idea to ask. Even those with what is considered "telemedicine-ready" issues may not be ready or willing to use telemedicine. Discuss it on a patient-by-patient basis, but here are a few things to consider:
- Does the patient have convenient internet access?
- Does the patient use a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer with a camera?
- Is the patient willing to invest in a device with a camera or install one on their computer?
- Does the patient have the ability to participate in a video visit at their work or do their off-hours coincide with the times your practice offers video visits?
Step 2: Build Telemedicine Appointments into Workflow
How to Schedule
Now that you know which appointments and patients can best utilize telemedicine, it's time to train your front desk staff to schedule them. When a patient calls to schedule an appointment, the scheduler will know which category that appointment falls. If it is "telemedicine-ready," it's showtime. Let's review a few tips and phrases staff can use when educating patients on telemedicine:
- We have a much more convenient way for you to see the doctor sooner. We use telemedicine for these types of appointments so you can see and talk to the doctor from the comfort of your home or office.
- You can also ensure telemedicine is briefly discussed during office visits and at checkout.
- Your follow-up appointment won't require you to take time to travel to our office. We now offer convenient telemedicine appointments where you can still see and speak with a practitioner but from the comfort of your home or office.
- We schedule most lab and imaging results using telemedicine, so you don't have to call and leave a message for a nurse to return your call. This way, you can schedule an exact time, and the practitioner can show you your lab results and discuss treatment options if necessary.
- Your patients will likely ask you how telemedicine appointments work. Here is when you will learn whether or not they, as patients, are good candidates. Expect some resistance from a few patients and be ready with further explanation of the benefits to them.
- All you need is a smartphone or tablet or a laptop or computer with a camera. You just download a free app and you will get a reminder email with your scheduled appointment time and link to join. Click on the link and, you'll automatically be taken into the app where the doctor will join you. It's similar to FaceTime, where you can see and talk face-to-face."
- We would be happy to help you download the app and walk you through the process to see how simple it is. We can promise it is much easier and faster than coming into the office."
Still want more proof of the benefits of telemedicine you can share with your patients?
Here's a quick cheat sheet of all of the most common reasons why patients love telemedicine:
- No need to travel to and from the doctor's office
- No exposure to sick patients
- No need to leave work
- No need to schedule child care
- Greater access to practitioner
- More flexible appointment times, including nights and weekends
- No travel time or waiting room time. Telemedicine appointments require significantly less patient time
- Studies show telemedicine appointments have the same patient outcomes as in-office appointments in almost all cases
- Most insurance covers telemedicine appointments
When to Schedule
Telemedicine appointments can be easily scheduled throughout a typical workday, as well as after hours and weekends. Similar to on-call scheduling, many offices choose to schedule doctors, nurses, and other practitioners at different times during the day and week for the broadest coverage and the most flexibility.
Block scheduling can be used to set aside specific hours of the day where practitioners will dedicate to telemedicine appointments. Before clinic hours, during lunch when the office is typically closed, after hours, evenings and weekends not only offer patients the ability to schedule the appointment around their work schedules but also give the practitioners incremental income when they typically are not earning revenue.
Step 3: Market to Patients
How to Educate Patients
Any patient-facing staff member has the best opportunity to taut telemedicine, but there are also other ideal ways to get your message across to patients.
It is a good idea to have telemedicine brochures in the waiting room and even attach them to the clipboard patients receive after signing in to the front desk. Utilize the waiting time to have them read about the benefits of telemedicine and how to download the app.
When your billing department sends patients invoices, why not include an insert or brochure about telemedicine? Unlike marketing mail, consumers generally open and read bills.
You can also hang posters in the exam rooms where patients can read about telemedicine while waiting for the practitioner. It would be a perfect time for the practitioner to answer any patient questions or refer to the poster when discussing telemedicine for follow-up appointments.
EMAIL & NEWSLETTERS
If your practice sends emails to patients, either with billing information, appointment reminders, or newsletters, you can include information about telemedicine front and center.
If you have an office website, you can place information about telemedicine on the homepage, as well as on the "book an appointment" page and blog page, if you have them. Because increasingly more patients are looking for providers who offer telemedicine, online searches can be an easy way for them to find you.
If your practice uses social media to interact with patients, be sure to post about the benefits of telemedicine regularly.
If you have patients who have good things to say about your telemedicine option, it never hurts to ask them if they'd be willing to lend a quote you can add to your emails, newsletters, social media posts and/or website. Consumers generally value the opinions of others, and getting others to market telemedicine for you is an inexpensive yet highly valuable marketing tactic.
When considering telemedicine software providers, ask your salesperson if their company offers brochures, posters and other marketing materials as part of their package. It will save you countless hours and significant dollars to have these in hand rather than creating them from scratch. Who better to explain the benefits and instructions for downloading than the vendor?
Where to Start
Zapclinica is a leader in telemedicine software and deployment. Contact our experts to learn how to secure video visits with full reimbursement implemented into your practice. We have everything you need to educate your patients on the benefits of telemedicine so you can start booking appointments faster than you may think.
Visit our website : https://zapclinica.com or contact us at : firstname.lastname@example.org