At some point in 2019, I was dealing with multiple tasks and competing between examination rooms under control chaos, which defined the average day of my busy clinic. I am behind as usual, and I can feel the frustration of the patient who has been waiting for a while in the air. I knocked on the door and walked into a room to see a patient in order to follow up his MRI study.
The meeting was very short, because the patient was particularly irritated because of having to wait. At the end of the appointment, the patient’s final comment continued to haunt me for the next few weeks: “Why can’t you call me with this result?”
At first, to be honest, I was insulted. I thought to myself, I can really call all my patients for follow-up, but I don’t really need to work in a clinic. What kind of practice is that?
Fast forward one year. The world has turned upside down, and ironically, I am one of the providers that use telemedicine the most in my large organization. I estimate that in the first four months of the pandemic, about 90% of my visits were telemedicine visits.
Many studies over the years have found that patients are Willing to contact doctors through technologyAnd many patients The report is very satisfied with their telemedicine experience.
However, for many years, mainly due to reimbursement and regulatory challenges, and sometimes limited access to technology, telemedicine has not become as popular as many people hoped.
But since the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency, our organization has expanded its telemedicine capabilities. In addition, our national workers’ compensation system has introduced several temporary telemedicine policies to allow injured workers to receive virtual medical care during this pandemic.
Brief background on me and my practice: I am a professional medical physician working under the non-profit healthcare system. My clinic is located in the suburbs, surrounded by many industries and densely populated communities. 95% of my interview types are related to work-related injuries, and the rest are related to employment-related exams. My patient group is working class, aged 14 years and above.
The leaders of my organization initially believed that face-to-face interaction was the preferred healthcare experience, and telemedicine visits made medical contact dehumanizing.
To test this hypothesis, I surveyed my patients.
Our telemedicine visits are all pre-scheduled using a web-based application. We use HIPAA-compliant software, which supports two-way high-definition video and audio. We can also share media online effortlessly. This investigation did not rule out. I included patients who did not have smart devices or lived in areas with poor internet access.
In the three weeks from the end of August to the beginning of September 2020, I collected a total of 115 questionnaires. About two-thirds of the patients I surveyed are follow-up patients. All new injury visits are conducted in person. Each result comes from a unique individual.
The survey contains a question: Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, do you prefer virtual visits (video or phone) or in-person/clinic visits?
In the case of virtual interviews, the survey questions will be provided to the patient on paper or verbatim. The patient can only choose one preference. To my surprise, 60% of face-to-face patients prefer virtual meetings, and 86% of virtual patients want their future visits to remain virtual.
Here are some comments from my patients:
“I like the first face-to-face visit, but subsequent visits can be virtual.”
“Virtuality is good, but when I spasm last time, I actually prefer face to face, so you can feel it.”
“Considering the pandemic, virtual visits are good, but I want to be checked and checked from time to time.”
“I am an essential worker, so virtual visits are very convenient for me.”
“I don’t see anything you can’t do, and you have to do it yourself.”
“I like this a little bit, it’s the side beauty of the pandemic.”
According to a similar survey in 2013, which brought together healthcare consumers from all over the world (1,547), 74% are satisfied with the virtual consultation. Here, I emphasize an example, modern patients using modern technology, prefer a new way of medical experience-virtual.
Through this experience, I learned some lessons.
First, have powerful and easy-to-use telemedicine software and confirm that it complies with HIPAA standards. Second, targeting your patient population is crucial. The younger generations (Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z) are more willing to adopt technology. In addition, be flexible and have a threshold to convert virtual visits to in-person visits when situations arise.
In addition, avoid telemedicine visits during acute infection and trauma phases. Advertise and provide telemedicine access for patients who live far and/or have limited traffic. Consider separating telemedicine visits and face-to-face visits into separate groups for better workflow.
Finally, make a plan for intermittent in-person visits for virtual patients, and remember that follow-up and chronic disease patients are the best candidates for telemedicine visits.
today, 76% of hospitals use telemedicine technology.5 Telemedicine services can save time and money for all parties involved. Its advantages and benefits are immeasurable. Timeliness of care is essential to improve the quality of care.
With telemedicine, you can access the healthcare system easier and faster than ever with the push of a button. Because patients do not have to take half a day or a full day to see a doctor, the loss of productivity is greatly reduced.
according to A survey, Nine out of ten Americans said they would cancel or reschedule preventive healthcare appointments due to workplace pressure. 6 Reducing traffic to and from the doctor’s clinic will reduce traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and air pollution.
Over the years, some of my patients have told me that they were involved in motor vehicle accidents when entering or leaving my clinic. I also found myself eager to attend my medical appointment during or after get off work. The anxiety and stress related to punctuality have led to several accidents of my own.
Telemedicine helps reduce unnecessary visits to emergency care or emergency rooms-before an employee goes to see a doctor, he/she can first consult a healthcare provider through telemedicine to determine whether such visits are necessary or instructed.
A study shows that telemedicine visits for the most common health conditions can save employers An average of $472 per visitTelemedicine allows team-based methods and collaboration, and other support members can join in virtual visits, such as dietitians in weight loss visits, prosthetics and/or orthopedists in amputation visits, and career consultants in occupational medicine appointments.
Telemedicine will continue to exist, and it will become a large platform for medical delivery in the future. We must learn to adopt and use it to give us an advantage, not as an obstacle.
Future challenges and opportunities include insurance recognition for correct reimbursement, establishing best practices, training and certification using platforms, strengthening cybersecurity, and finally, Extending to all aspects of medicine (For example, assisted telemedicine services, such as telepathology and telepharmacology).
For the patient I met last year who wanted to give him a virtual MRI result, I want to say, thank you!
Dr. Archie Adams is an occupational medicine provider certified by the committee. He is currently seeing a doctor at the MultiCare Occupational Medicine Center in Puyallup, Washington.