For many of us, COVID-19 has been the single most disruptive event in our lifetimes. Overnight, the world was turned upside down. We donned masks. We worked from home. We celebrated birthdays over Zoom.
The pandemic, of course, was a massive blow to the healthcare industry. On the one hand, many physicians rushed to the front lines — caring for patients as new hot spots popped up across the country and ravaged communities. At the same time, others had to close their doors, as shelter-in-place orders came down and nonurgent care was deemed too risky.
Suddenly, the focus shifted to virtual care. Telemedicine, of course, wasn’t anything new. But the public’s reliance on telemedicine as their primary source of care was. As physicians looked for ways to fill their rapidly thinning schedules and patients could no longer postpone treatment, telemedicine became the responsible way to not just “keep the lights on” but even rebound after a dry spell. Physicians and healthcare professionals overcame any initial challenges and adapted their practices to care for patients from a remote setting.
Yes, there’s been a learning curve, as individuals and healthcare organizations scrambled to get up to speed with virtual services. But many have realized the significant benefits telemedicine brings to the table. What’s most surprising, as many physicians are finding, is the positive impact telemedicine can have on their day-to-day lives. Here’s how.
1. More control over your schedule
No-shows, last-minute cancellations, and late arrivals are all-too-familiar frustrations for most physicians — not to mention an administrative headache. But telemedicine keeps those events to a minimum, since patients themselves are less of a variable and they’re more likely to “show up” for their appointment. Telemedicine all but eliminates the chance that a patient will get stuck in traffic or held up at the office, throwing their day off and putting you behind schedule, which means it’s easier for you to stay on track. (One physician reported that telemedicine helped him reduce no-shows to below 3%!)
With patients primed and ready to embrace the virtual wave, telehealth has shown to improve appointment compliance and even help them adhere to prescription regimens. According to Accenture, a fifth of patients would even pay more for telemedicine vs. an in-person appointment. And if someone does cancel in the eleventh hour, you have the opportunity to back-fill that spot, since patients can easily take the call from wherever they are, too.
2. Flexibility to work in the office when you need to, not when you don’t
As you figure out the workflows that make sense for you and your teams, stacking virtual appointments on dedicated days not only reduces the need to go into the office as frequently, but it also saves time in the long run. On average, virtual visits are much shorter than in-person appointments — which is good news for the patient and good news for you.
>> Related read: Telemedicine 101
Telemedicine also lets you conduct appointments outside of normal office hours to see more patients when it’s most convenient to both parties. As the saying goes, time is money — and virtual visits can put more cash in your pockets in terms of hours saved and the number of patients you’re able to see at the end of the day.
3. All the comforts of home — or wherever you need to be
Working from home is an adjustment for sure, but it comes with certain undeniable perks. Experience everything you love about your home around the clock. On the flip side, any frustrations you had with the day-to-day office life can be replaced by the comforts and conveniences of working remotely. For example, save money by making your own coffee, enjoy lunch with your family instead of alone, and never stress about the rush-hour commute again.
Given the high-pressure field of medicine, doctors regularly burn the candle at both ends — but telemedicine can dramatically improve your work–life balance. In between appointments (or whenever you’re not on the clock), take care of non-work activities, whether that’s making lunch, helping with homework, practicing self-care with a leisurely walk, or spending quality time with your love ones. This has shown to reduce physician burnout and improve overall job satisfaction.
4. Peace of mind about the health and safety of you and your family
Telemedicine helped “flatten the curve” during the early days of stay-at-home mandates. Today, it still keeps patients who don’t need to be seen face to face safe at home, so they don’t risk picking up the virus in waiting rooms or during the commute to and from your office. At the same time, it protects you, your staff, and the people you live with from coming into contact with COVID-19 — and other diseases. When you have more control over your environment and in-person interactions, your chance of exposure drops dramatically.
Previously, it was thought that only administrative tasks could be successfully handled remotely — from scheduling appointments to filing insurance and more. But this virus incentivized physicians to test-drive flexible working options like never before. Telemedicine helped the healthcare industry meet new challenges and realities presented by COVID-19, and physicians are also realizing the significant benefits of expanding their practices virtually. It’s a win–win.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line telemedicine solution to help you take your practice remote, look no further than VirtualVisit. It’s fast, easy to use, HIPAA compliant — and, maybe best of all, it’s 100% free. Learn more about VirtualVisit here.