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Making Your Office Available for Patients 24/7
How to Reduce Costs, Retain Patients, and Take Fewer After Hours Calls on Your Own
In the new world where patients are requesting on-demand access to doctors and healthcare providers, how can your office or hospital remain competitive and provide access to healthcare 24/7?
The past two years have seen a proliferation of telemedicine (including on-demand physicians that evaluate and prescribe over the phone). Various market research companies predict a growth rate between 15 and 25% a year, and according to research analysts and companies such as Zion Research the United States’ telemedicine market is expected to reach approximately $35 billion (USD) by 2020.
The results are not surprising. Limited access to physicians and caregivers has been a common complaint among consumers. Year after year, emergency departments continue to see patients that should have been handled by family doctors or other outpatient clinics. Some of these patients are now opting to speak to a telemedicine doctor (even if that doctor is not their established doctor) in the hopes of avoiding an unnecessary ER visit.
From the point of view of the patient, both going to the ER and speaking to a telemedicine doctor are reasonable when no other options are available. Imagine, for example, a mother with a newborn that has a low-grade fever or a 65-year-old who is coughing up blood. How do they decide if the symptoms require an emergency visit or if it’s okay to wait until the next business day for the doctor’s office to open? The solution for physicians is twofold : implement technology to ease the patient’s access to you and make sure that the patient has access to one of your healthcare partners at all times.
The goal of technology is to allow patients to text and communicate with the office using a smart app instead of having to leave a message with a front desk and waiting for a callback. Being able to text simple issues such as appointment requests or medication questions gives patients the freedom to go about their day and conveniently keep a lookout for the office’s response. For the office staff, this also gives the added advantage of being able to prioritize their responses to the patients. Texting a patient back also guarantees contact with the patient, which saves the staff from wasting their time with missed phone calls. For more information on a potential app for your practice, keep a lookout for TriageLogic’s new upcoming app “My247Healthcare” and our medical director’s letter about the mobile app and technology innovation at the TriageLogic Group.
As for having a healthcare partner available, a nurse triage line is a great solution for offices where doctors don’t want to take the responsibility of handling all the calls on nights and weekends. As shown in the data blogs that we publish every couple of months, triage nurses are able to handle over 80% of the calls without the need to contact a doctor. Having nurses available gives patients the comfort of knowing that they have an option through their provider when a health symptom surfaces. For a patient, an emergency is anytime he or she doesn’t feel well. Having a trained nurse who works directly with their doctor’s office can provide them with needed reassurance, prevent further complications, save them from an unnecessary ER visit, and ensure continuity of care.
As a follow up to my letter, our team also extracted some data from our nurse triage center to help us understand patient outcomes from a nurse triage visit. Please lookout for the article titled : “The Impact of Nurse Triage Service on Human Life.”
Pharmaion report,“United States Telemedicine Market Opportunities, 2011 – 2021”
Ken Research, “The US Telemedicine Market Outlook to 2018, Rising Penetration of Telephone Care and mHealth” June 2014
What to Read Next :
Our e-book, “The Telephone Nurse Triage Handbook : A Convenient Guide for Providers”, written by CEO Charu G. Raheja, PhD.