The Office is Always Open
Patient access to care has various challenges. It’s hard to believe that as connected as we are, it can still be difficult to find time to call the doctor and schedule an appointment. For the working adult or parent, even an office open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. is not always convenient. It is somehow ironic that that the only time in the day to call the office is when they too are at lunch or it’s after hours. This example of a healthcare challenge illustrates how our schedules, connectivity and needs are driving the demand for 24×7 healthcare.
Technology is on the cusp of transforming healthcare and we see it on the horizon. Devices and wearables are examples. They both enable healthcare providers to diagnose patient issues faster and more accurately. Patients have more insight into their own health. Similarly, we see this reflected in telemedicine, which gives doctors and other healthcare providers the ability to diagnose issues, prescribe medications, and monitor patient status without an in-person visit. Due to these technological changes, patients no longer need to come into physical offices when seeking diagnosis of certain ailments and the ongoing monitoring of issues. The question is, what does this mean for today’s practice?
Virtualize the Office
Practices can now employ ‘virtual’ care by embracing technology. A service that allows clients to log in to view information functions as a virtual office. And it’s not just virtual visits that create an “always open” office. It can be offering a comprehensive patient portal. Allowing a patient online access to interact and communicate with the practice closes the gap in how we prefer to consume care and information.
Living in a Digital World
A top driver to patient care decision making is convenience. Cost is, and for the foreseeable future, will always be a top concern and virtual care addresses this as well. Most telemedicine or virtual visits are at a significantly lower cost to the patient. Despite this, recent studies say that telemedicine is seeing a slow adoption and even though “generations crave convenience and speed over in-person interaction, the Advisory Board found that 77 percent of patients are willing to use virtual care and 90 percent of patients feel no obligation to stay with a provider that doesn’t offer digital tools. They know they could save money, time, and hassle by using virtual visits. Interestingly though, only 19 percent have taken advantage of their provider’s telehealth offerings.”
No technology can replace the bond between provider and patient. To support these relationships, there are practical ways for a practice to offer convenience and accessibility. Solid communication serves as the foundation to a healthy and happy patient encounter. The practice can add virtual tools to transform the office and offer options such as text messaging appointment reminders, access to a robust patient portal, and offering online payments to view and pay balances.
Every Interaction is an Opportunity
Ultimately, there is no one a patient trusts more than their doctor, closely followed by the other healthcare professionals who work in the office. When alternative care options are presented by a trusted professional, it can be the catalyst to change in patient behavior. Offering options like those mentioned can also serve to reduce burden on the front desk staff. When patient encounters are enhanced, even providers can feel a positive effect. The proverbial win-win solution is how a virtual office enables healthcare providers to optimize the time spent with patients and delivers care at reduced costs. The convenience of a virtual office is viewed as a positive and welcome option. It gives the patient the opportunity to get the right care at the right time.
Convenience, accessibility and availability are the driving factors toward a change in the traditional healthcare office. Through technology, healthcare organizations can offer patient-centered tools to ensure patients can easily access care services. We at Rectangle Health believe that we can help offer an array of solutions to create efficiencies for the staff and options to the patient. We help at all points of the patient encounter, whether at the office or after hours, the office can always be open for the patient. Today, Practice Management Bridge® by Rectangle Health serves over 60,000 Providers with easily integrated solutions that increase both staff and patient satisfaction.