Virtual care is quickly becoming a regular part of healthcare in the U.S. In fact, according to the American Telemedicine Association, as many as 15 million people used telehealth services last year, up 50 percent from 2013. And, according to Nemours Children’s Health System, three quarters of parents who have used telemedicine for their children say the experience was better than an in-person office visit.
Beyond these powerful statistics, why should your pediatric practice embrace virtual care? Consider these seven reasons:
1. Telemedicine lets you get a “read” on the situation in ways a telephone consult can’t. Ponder the ability to see a parent’s face and the child’s face. There is so much to be learned about both the clinical and emotional state through body language.
2. You can better expedite care for those who need it. How often do you “squeeze in” a patient, who the parent describes as very sick, only for them to come to the office and appear fine? You then see the child who waited hours (or even days) for their appointment and their situation is borderline emergent. A video visit helps you discern who needs care now and who can wait, if needed.
3. You can triage patients more effectively after hours. It can be difficult to assess a patient’s situation via telephone, often leading to referrals to the ED on weekends and after hours. A video visit can help you more confidently determine if an injury or illness needs immediate care, or if at-home care is enough – even if only through the night.
4. You can ensure your young patients get the specialized care they need. No one provides care for your patients the way you do. It’s specialized (because we all know that kids aren’t just small adults). It’s personal. And it’s familiar and comfortable. Telehealth makes it easier for patients to see you (or a trusted member of your team) any time and from anywhere – rather than just heading up to the retail clinic on the corner or the nearest emergency room, where they may not offer pediatric expertise.
5. You can offer better follow-up. Want to follow-up with that sick kid you saw yesterday or your patient who went to the ER last night, but without forcing another trip to the office? Telemedicine visits make follow-ups easy for everyone.
6. You can expand your patients access to the medical home. Day or night, you can use your telemedicine technology to incorporate your nurse telephone triage, nurse practitioner, physicians, and local partners – routing visits to the appropriate level of care.
7. Virtual care can help you increase revenue and decrease costs. Whether used to streamline sick visits and follow-up appointments, or to prevent leakage (to urgent cares, retail clinics, ERs and such), telemedicine can create opportunities for you to work more efficiently and effectively – all the while supporting better outcomes and patient satisfaction.