It’s 9 a.m. sharp, and your practice turns its phones over from the exchange. When the line rings immediately, there’s a stressed parent on the other end asking for their child to be seen first thing this morning.
To complicate matters, we are living in the time of COVID-19, and schools will not let a sniffling student with a sore throat through its doors. The patient’s mom really cannot afford to miss more work, and she is feeling the pressure of managing her financial responsibilities with her parental ones. She’s confident that it’s just allergies, but the school needs a confirmation note from you.
Your staff looks over the schedule while subduing the mother’s palpable stress. They see a tiny fraction of time between your four appointments in the next hour and ask if you could possibly squeeze in one more. If only there was a viable option to help you see your patient quickly and conveniently while still maintaining quality patient care.
But, there is: Telehealth. It’s important to understand how telemedicine can help you, your patients, and their parents. First, we must explore what your patients are looking for when they seek your medical advice, and what barriers may prevent their expectations from being met. Let’s dive in!
What Do Patients Want from Their Healthcare Experience?
Families with children have several expectations when it comes to primary care. Here are some of the things patients and their parents value the most, according to recent data.
1. Same-Day Appointments
Patients want to be seen quickly — faster than appointment times are available. Specifically, parents want same-day appointments for their sick children. If they can’t get them, they are likely to go to a minute or retail clinic, urgent care, or the emergency room.
2. A Provider Who Listens
Families also want a provider who will spend time with them and acknowledge the whole person — someone with food, transportation, and housing requirements, as well as mental health needs. The problem is that in order for you to make a livable wage from insurance reimbursement, you need to see multiple patients per hour, which does not leave much time for each appointment.
Patients want affordable healthcare but find themselves unable to afford the rising healthcare costs. When insurance rates go up, that usually translates to an increase in patient copays and deductibles.
4. High-Quality Care
Families value quality care for their children. In light of overall increased healthcare costs during the pandemic, insurance companies have begun to reduce costs by excluding these facilities, making affordable quality care harder to obtain.
What are Practices Doing Well and What Can You Improve?
One way that pediatric offices are exceling is by designating spaces for sick visits on providers’ schedules. However, there are only so many appointment times to go around. Oftentimes, practices turn to treating their patients over the phone or through email and patient portals.
It’s clear that there is room for improvement in healthcare, but many providers are at the mercy of the system. Overall, insurance companies reimburse less to primary care providers than they do to specialists. In addition, the American Medical Association puts a higher value on specialty interventions than they do preventative care.
You are probably thinking that you cannot change the system, but you can work within it. One way to achieve this is to have a system in place for sick visits and communicate this to your parents. This is where telehealth can shine.
How Does Telehealth Improve the Patient Experience?
In our 2021 parent survey, we received 1,513 responses, and 979, or 65% of respondents noted convenience and time effectiveness as the primary benefits of telemedicine for their families. Additionally, 50% of those surveyed said they prefer virtual visits over in-office appointments.
Because it takes less time to complete a telehealth visit, clinicians are more readily available. This translates to the providers in your practice being able to see more patients and meet their needs in a timely way. The availability of telehealth appointments also helps kids avoid emergency rooms and keeps them in your practice. This not only reduces healthcare costs, but it keeps your patients seeing you, the provider, who knows their medical history.
There are many obstacles within the healthcare system that make it difficult for you to meet all of your patients’ expectations. Many providers would agree that there are multiple facets to these obstacles beyond a clinician’s control. What you can control is how you offer your services. Telehealth appointments provide you with the flexibility to meet parents’ needs when their child is ill and otherwise.
Are you interested in exploring the many benefits of telehealth services? To request a consultation, contact us today!