As telemedicine’s popularity increases, so do positive patient outcomes. However, telemedicine is not only a positive development for patients. Health care providers across all segments of the industry have experienced the benefits of telehealth. Video conferencing allows health care providers to set their own schedules with reduced travel and avoid the “assembly line” nature of healthcare today. Doctors who have experience with telemedicine praise the technology for helping them deepen patient relationships and stay competitive in the marketplace. Choosing the right technology solutions is critical to achieve success with telemedicine.
Examining Patients And Analyzing Care
One of the most common questions health care providers ask is how telemedicine will allow them to examine patients. Naturally, they are concerned that seeing patients via a video or audio conference places them at a disadvantage when analyzing the patient’s ailments or concerns. In reality, though, a videoconference can tell a physician as much about a patient as a traditional visit can, if the physician is adequately prepared. Health care providers using telemedicine are encouraged to take detailed medical histories. Since family members may be present at a video conference to assist with this, this can give health care providers a further advantage. Health care providers are also encouraged to examine the patient’s appearance, judging whether he or she needs in-person care.
Building A Patient Base
Before he or she can become a trusted community member, every health care provider needs a dedicated patient base. Most health care providers think this can only occur face-to-face, but telehealth can help them build a strong patient base faster. Telemedicine schedules are much more flexible than traditional office schedules, which allows physicians to set their own hours and integrate with support staff as needed. Additionally, the physician or other provider can meet the patient directly in the “virtual waiting room,” saving time on both sides. If a patient is not subjected to a long wait, he or she is more likely to be satisfied and come back.
The Legality Of Telehealth
Since telemedicine is still relatively new, many providers worry about the associated legalities. Telehealth is legal in most states, and health care providers are required to be licensed in the state(s) where patients are located. Additionally, the cloud-based technology often used to facilitate telehealth must meet Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. This includes highly specific data encryption and strict security standards. Every state’s telehealth laws are different though, so be sure to look up your own state’s laws before beginning a telemedicine practice.
Even those who are reluctant to embrace change and new technology will ultimately have to migrate to the cloud and master HIPAA compliance and security in the process.