The Virtues of Virtual Visits
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Today’s physicians (and patients) are benefitting from connecting by phone instead of in the office. It harkens back to the days when a physician would call before coming to your house or to follow up on a house-call. Today’s systems are much more sophisticated, but the convenience level is the same: High.
Telemedicine’s time has definitely come. Consider that back in 2013, a Cisco study showed that 74% of consumers were open to a virtual doctor visit. Although only 15% of family physicians in 2015 reported they had provided this type of service to their patients in the past 12 months, with benefits like timelier care, reduced visit cost, and improved physician-to-physician consultations, that figure is sure to rise.
But what exactly do patients want in a virtual visit, and how can practitioners incorporate these visits into their daily practice?
It starts with a telemedicine platform like Doxy.me that integrates with your practice management system. Look for one that:

  1. Lets patients use your existing appointment scheduler to schedule a virtual visits
  2. Lets your physicians easily enter virtual visit notes in your EHR
  3. Lets your billers quickly create claims/bills for virtual visits (and patients to view those bills and pay them online)
  4. Is highly secure. The telemedicine system should not store any patient health information once the visit is complete, and it should follow all other security requirements laid out in HIPAA.
  5. Is accessible from any desktop, tablet, or smartphone

As for incorporating virtual visits into your practice, there are a variety of ways to go about it. Some physicians use telemedicine to triage urgent requests when the office is closed, some for follow-up visits related to diabetes or hypertension, and some for things like lactation consultations, well-child exams, and weight management.
However you use these new visit types, make sure your physicians are prepared with everything they need, including a fast network, tips on conducting virtual visits, and the tools they need to document and bill for them.
Finally, for those not ready to take the virtual plunge, remember that patient portals provide a good deal of the easy, no-need-to-travel convenience of virtual visits. Often, a patient’s ability to email their physician, view lab results online, and receive information related to their condition can take the place of an in-person visit.
Sources:

  1. “Cisco Study Reveals 74 Percent of Consumers Open to Virtual Doctor Visit,” The Network blog, https://newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content?articleId=1148539
  2. “Family Physicians and Telehealth: Finding from a National Survey,” Robert Graham Center, http://www.graham-center.org/content/dam/rgc/documents/publications-reports/reports/RGC%202015%20Telehealth%20Report.pdf
  3. Free telemedicine platform: https://doxy.me/
  4. “Integrating Telemedicine Into Your Practice,” Medical Economics blog, http://www.medicaleconomics.com/health-care-information-technology/integrating-telemedicine-your-practice

Last Updated on July 14, 2017