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What your healthcare practice can learn from telemedicine companies

Healthcare practices can learn a thing or two about patient satisfaction from telemedicine companies.

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An alternative to traditional healthcare, telemedicine companies provide care remotely. Patients are evaluated, diagnosed, and treated using HIPAA-compliant telecommunications devices. 

Telehealth will generate $2 billion in total revenue in 2019, with 2,372 companies offering these services, according to IBISWorld. An industry on the rise, it has realized 34.7 percent annual growth since 2014.

Clearly, telemedicine companies are doing something very right. Attract and retain more patients by learning why people are gravitating toward this type of care.

6 ways telemedicine companies satisfy patients

1. Convenient care

In the U.S., patients spend an average of 34 minutes traveling to receive healthcare services, according to Altarum. Add this to time in the waiting and exam rooms, and even a simple healthcare appointment can take hours out of their day.

Telehealth is a major time-saver because people can receive care from anywhere in a matter of minutes. This boosts patient satisfaction levels because it’s easy for people to fit appointments into a hectic schedule.

Check out: 5 reasons patients no-show for healthcare appointments

2. Short wait times

Virtual visits with telehealth providers allow patients to avoid long waits. For example, telemedicine company LiveHealth Online claims to connect patients to doctors in a matter of minutes.

This is important to people, as nearly one-third (30 percent) have walked out of an appointment due to a long wait time, according to Vitals. Furthermore, one-in-five has changed doctors because of long waits.

Clearly, patient satisfaction rates are largely tied to wait times, which likely plays into the growing popularity of telehealth companies.

Also see: How to make waiting more pleasant at your healthcare practice

3. After-hours assistance

People get sick at all hours of the day, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a traditional practice open at 2 a.m. Telemedicine companies make it possible for patients to receive care without having to make a pre-dawn trip to the emergency room.

For example, telemedicine company Virtuwell offers 24/7 care. This allows patients to seek treatment promptly at any time of day without leaving the comforts of their home.

Additionally, the ability to receive care at any hour makes treatment more accessible to patients who work during standard office hours. Telemedicine allows them to seek care without having to take time off work.

Related: What private healthcare practices can learn from urgent care centers

4. Cost-effective treatment

U.S. healthcare spending averaged $10,739 per person in 2017, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Insured patients typically only pay a portion of the total cost, but 8.5 percent of Americans (or 27.5 million) didn’t have any form of health insurance in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Telemedicine companies make healthcare more affordable to everyone. For example, iCliniq offers an annual treatment plan for $99, where patients can receive 50 hours of online chat time with a family physician, general practitioner, or general surgeon.

5. Greater access to care

In rural areas, the patient-to-primary care physician ratio is just about 40 physicians per 100,000 people, according to the National Rural Health Association

This can make it difficult for people to receive standard care — and even more challenging if they need to see a specialist. Telemedicine companies are a game-changer for these communities because residents are able to get the care they need.

Beyond that, telehealth allows rural patients to have a choice of providers — something they might not have otherwise. In some cases, this can make it possible for them to receive better quality care than the offerings in their local region.

Read: 10 things patients wish they could tell their healthcare providers

6. Increased patient engagement

Telehealth companies make it easier than ever for patients to take control of their health. When people have the right tools at their fingertips, there’s no excuse for not using them to better themselves.

Since telehealth offers convenient access to providers, patients are more inclined to reach out with questions and concerns. Taking an active role in their health can allow people to see positive results that encourage them to keep up the good work.

Telemedicine companies are surging in popularity, and that’s not likely to change. This doesn’t mean your brick-and-mortar practice will become obsolete, but there’s plenty of lessons to be learned.

Take a look at reasons these companies are so successful and, when possible, find ways to provide the same level of care. Gain a competitive advantage by offering the convenience patients want with the personal touch only a dedicated provider can give.

Want more information on the topic of patient satisfaction? Check out the blog post “Patient satisfaction in healthcare: What really matters to patients.”

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