By Mick Connors, M.D.
It has been well documented that patient satisfaction suffers when the parents and children we serve are left lingering in waiting rooms or, even worse, never even make it to the waiting room because of limited appointment availability. What is far less documented is the impact such backlogs (packed waiting rooms and long stand-by lists) have on us – pediatric providers. But as a pediatrician of more than 20 years, here’s what I know to be true:
- Physicians don’t like keeping their patients waiting any more than patients like waiting, but between emergency needs, no shows and late shows, it can be beyond our control.
- Physicians want to make care more accessible, so that needs can be met quickly and easily, rather than asking patients to schedule days/weeks/months in advance or feel the need to find care outside of the medical home. This is especially true for pediatricians.
- Physicians are always looking for ways to better manage their time (and their practice’s overall efficiency), so they have more time to spend on patient care, greater overall business success, and a better quality of life. Beyond the obvious “why,” research by Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Global Health Institute says that mounting obstacles to patient care – such as too many bureaucratic tasks and long workdays – contribute to emotional fatigue, depersonalization and loss of enthusiasm among today’s physicians, making burnout more common among physicians than other U.S. workers.
Over the last several years – and especially since launching Anytime Pediatrics in 2017 – I’ve seen again and again how powerful a virtual care option can be in helping doctors and practice managers address these points of frustration. I’ve experienced first-hand the many ways the right telehealth solution enables better time management and overall practice efficiency, while simultaneously increasing patient satisfaction. Here are just a few of the ways Anytime Pediatrics’ telemedicine technology is already being used to improve the healthcare experience for patients, individual physicians, group practices, pediatric urgent cares and children’s hospitals alike:
- As an option for after-hours care – keeping your patients in your care. No one provides care for your patients the way you and your team do. By offering a telemedicine option that connects your patients with your office (at any time and from anywhere), you make it easy for them to get the after-hours care they need and deserve – rather than heading to the retail clinic on the corner or a local ER.
- As a way to enhance your triage process, during regular hours, after hours, or both – your choice. Assessing patients using a telephone triage tool is a familiar choice, but not always the best choice, especially during peak times, like flu season. Virtual care allows you to not only hear your patients, but see them, which can be critical in determining who needs to be squeezed in and who can wait (or not come to your office at all).
- As an alternative to late cancellations. Late cancellations are common in healthcare, especially so in pediatrics. Rather than just accepting a last-minute cancellation, offering an e-visit instead assures your patient is able to access the care he/she needs, while safeguarding your valuable time.
- As a solution to the “no show” challenge. Make the most of your billable time by using telehealth to fill gaps left by no-shows. With a technology partner like Anytime Pediatrics, you can put same-day appointment requests on an on-demand basis. Then, if you have a no-show, simply notify your waiting patient(s) that you’ll see them via telemedicine now.
And this is just the beginning. If you’d like to learn more, let’s connect.