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Growing a practice during a pandemic: Q&A with a physician-owner

Practices must adapt quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact how doctors see and treat patients. A dermatologist talks about telehealth, what practices can do now to thrive, and the future of healthcare.

Kim Neyman, MD, FAAD is a Board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist who treats patients of all ages, including kids, with all types of skin concerns. Dr. Neyman brings extensive clinical experience and diagnostic expertise to the beautiful mountain community of Wheat Ridge, Colorado at her practice, Elevation Dermatology.

While adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elevation Dermatology continues to provide patients with dermatologic care through a combination of telehealth and in-office visits. 

In a PatientPop conversation about keeping a practice thriving during a national health emergency, Dr. Neyman shared how Elevation Dermatology communicates with patients, balances telehealth with in-person appointments, and continues to grow the business.

Q: How have you stayed connected with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Dr. Neyman: Everything has gone more virtual, and our patients have always really liked the opportunity to book appointments online. Now they can also book virtual appointments online. We recently started using PatientPop Pro, which includes the PatientPop telehealth solution. So far, it has been fantastic. 

It’s streamlined for patients and doesn’t require them to learn a lot to use our telehealth appointments. It includes an easy-to-use virtual waiting room where patients ‘wait’ until I ‘admit’ them to their appointment.

Having a HIPAA-compliant platform is important. Some of the regulations have been relaxed for now because of the pandemic, but at some point, practices will once again be required to use HIPAA-compliant telehealth technology, and PatientPop already has it. 

Ease of use is also important because we’re all busy. There are still many people working from home or taking care of their family and children. No one wants to have to fiddle around with another complex platform in addition to the ones they already have.

Q: How has PatientPop helped you grow your practice? 

Dr. Neyman: It was evident after we started using PatientPop that the number of patients contacting us increased substantially. Our website is now bright and user-friendly, along with other elements of our practice that PatientPop has helped us improve, integrated into one platform. Even before the pandemic hit, patients really rely on websites to reflect how a practice operates — it’s extremely important to have that online presence, and even more so now that patients are online looking for care. 

PatientPop has also helped me convey my practice specialty and subspecialty, and how it relates to the whole clinical picture. It’s important for my patients to see the total type of care I offer, and my background.

Q: Do you see more patients via telehealth or in-office appointments now? 

Dr. Neyman: During the pandemic stay-at-home orders, our office was closed with the exception of telehealth appointments and emergencies. Since the stay-at-home mandates were lifted, about 25 percent of our appointments are telehealth, with Fridays reserved for virtual visits. The remaining 75 percent are in-person, at the office.

Q: Will you continue to use telehealth after the pandemic eases? 

Dr. Neyman: Yes, although I think the industry will be looking toward more information and clarification about insurance reimbursement as time progresses. It’s a huge convenience for patients to be able to visit their dermatologist from their own home or home office. Patients are growing accustomed to that convenience, but it does have limitations. There’s a balance between in-person and telehealth appointments, depending on what the health issue is. Telehealth is especially helpful for follow-up in certain cases, so I don’t think it will be going away anytime soon. 

Q: What do you think healthcare delivery will look like in the near future?

Dr. Neyman: Like other aspects of our daily life, healthcare has changed for the foreseeable future. I never envisioned we would have patients waiting in cars, taking temperatures upon arrival, and wearing protective masks. Until there’s a vaccine, that will likely be the norm.

I think telehealth will continue to be a good option for patients, that people will gravitate toward. It’s good to have the choice, so patients can manage their health and feel safe. And when they need to come into the office, we have options for those appointments, too.

Q: What do you think a practice needs to do to thrive over the next year?

Dr. Neyman: Healthcare has taken a huge hit because so many elective procedures were put on hold for so long. Practices have also made large investments in safety toward personal protective equipment for physicians and staff. 

Having a positive attitude, and taking care of patients in a safe and healthy manner will help practices stay afloat. There will always be a demand for healthcare, it’s just delivered in a different way for now.

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