Helping Hesitant Patients Embrace Telehealth
Focus on Understanding and Addressing the Underlying Issues
In a world that’s constantly focused on embracing technology and using it to run our lives faster and more efficiently, telehealth services seem to fit right in. Instead of spending hours driving to a doctor’s appointment and sitting in a waiting room, you can just initiate a video call from your living room or text a question during a lunch break at work. Hate going into the doctor regularly to maintain a prescription? A 10-minute telehealth call can now accomplish the same goal. Even chronically ill patients can now have vital signs monitored regularly and remotely so they can remain at home.
However, even with all these amazing applications, some patients may be hesitant about trying telehealth services. If your organization would like to encourage greater telehealth usage, here are some factors to consider and ideas to increase uptake.
Clearly Communicate Reimbursement Rules
It can be uncomfortable to break out of a well-known routine, especially when it comes to healthcare. Some patients may have a clear understanding of what their insurance company or Medicare covers for routine care but may be worried that telehealth services are not reimbursed in the same manner.
If this is the case, be sure to help patients understand that reimbursement rules for telehealth have changed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. For Medicare patients, the government will now reimburse for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits and a wide range of virtual medical services can be reimbursed by Medicare. Many private insurance companies have followed suit, and patients should be encouraged to contact their insurance providers for details.
Provide Technology Support
Although it seems that just about everyone has a smartphone and a computer these days, the level of comfort in using technology still varies quite a bit. Some patients may be worried about navigating technology in a safe and effective manner to embrace telehealth services. In fact, in a 2019 National Poll on Healthy Aging, nearly half of respondents over the age of 50 were concerned about getting technology to work properly.
Providers can go a long way in helping calm these concerns by offering not only clear instructions on using their particular telehealth system but by providing in-person support. Some older hesitant patients miss the human interactions when it comes to telehealth so being able to have someone walk through the basics of setting up their camera and mics, download the necessary apps, or even conduct a practice appointment can go a long way in increasing the comfort level of patients.
Focus on Personal Benefits
Telehealth has the potential to generate a wide array of benefits for many individuals. However, individual patients will not be interested in these advantages if they don’t pertain specifically to them.
In order to increase telehealth service engagement, it is important to understand your patient population and exactly what they need in terms of healthcare services. For example, if your facility is in a rural area, you may want to focus on the travel time saved for patients seeking services. Routine check-ins could be scheduled over a lunch break, eliminating the need to take time off from work. Elderly patients may not need to rely on family members for transportation to distant appointments while still getting the care they need.
If your clientele is concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19, offering non-contact, telehealth methods of screening, testing and monitoring patients can be very appealing. Chronically ill patients who have mobility issues may very much appreciate being able to have their vital signs monitored on a regular basis by a remote nurse who can contact a provider, home health care, or family member when in-person intervention is required. Communicating that telehealth services encompass more than just virtual appointments can go a long way in helping boost acceptance.
Empathize with Concerns
In some cases, it may take a little more detective work to discover underlying hesitancy about trying telehealth services. Some isolated patients may see their regular in-person visits to providers as an important part of their social life or one of their only outings during a month. Others may worry about providers seeing the chaos in their home, whether that be material clutter or difficult family members.
Work with patients to find a safe, private space that telehealth visits can occur, or create a hybrid solution that might be able to deliver some of their needed care virtually while other services remain in-person.
Telehealth and Malpractice Insurance
For organizations embarking on providing telehealth services, it’s important to check in with your professional liability provider. Ask whether telehealth services and electronic communications are covered in your current policy to ensure you are protected. NOW Insurance offers comprehensive coverage of telehealth services at the same levels as in-person visits. We deliver affordable and simple insurance quickly to healthcare practitioners and allied health workers.
In addition to conventional insurance, you may want to consider purchasing NOW’s cyber liability insurance to protect your organization from cyber-attacks and data breaches, which may be more common with telehealth offerings.
General liability coverage is also available for private practices, clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities. Get an immediate quote for both professional and general liability from our quick and easy online application today.