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6 steps to building patient confidence in telehealth

With Covid-19 came a flood of new telehealth (virtual consultation) solutions, exposing more patients to its benefits and features. More advertising, awareness, and more conversation has brought telehealth to a wider audience, and this can only be beneficial for everyone. However, the question remains, how do we create that trust in telehealth for a patient, so that they will turn to it the next time they need healthcare?

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Possible contenders for understanding the dynamics could include different patient demographics, or the fact that the solution offered is easier to navigate in one practice than another. The following are recommendations and advice, for health care providers in general, who are looking to integrate formal telehealth into their practices.

1. Be the one offering the benefits of telehealth and start the conversation

I was talking with my provider, and I asked: How did you get telehealth right, so quickly? He said, I tell my patients they are crazy if they don’t use it. He talks to them about it in his rooms and makes it part of his consultation. He focuses on the benefits of telehealth for the patient, such as the convenience factor, and the fact that it saves time and money by not having to drive to their rooms. He mentions the fact that he can generally provide same-day care, while charging them less, and often offers a free consultation to take advantage of his solution. He also notes that his patients, despite their general perception of telehealth as a solution, don’t begin to trust the service until after he introduces the subject.

2. Marketing your service

The problem with telehealth is letting patients know that health care providers are already providing it. It can probably take a long time and I often see a provider give up after a month or so, saying their patients just didn’t care. Most of the time, they didn’t even know they could use it.

However, these same patients continue to use WhatsApp and email – forms of telehealth though not necessarily secure.

It’s not uncommon for practices to have one pager that they’ve designed with the benefits to their patients, how to use it, and it’s a great place to include consultation pricing. Patients like to receive something tangible. Posting information on Facebook, LinkedIn, and community circulars is also a common practice. One very effective idea that I’ve seen in practice is a fridge magnet that contains vital information about a telehealth solution. The patient could attach it to the refrigerator door, not only because it was practical, it also served as a constant reminder that the healthcare provider provided such a service in the first place.

3. Easy talk

This was great advice for providers….stay away from telehealth jargon, such as “virtual care”. Instead, stick to well-known phrases like “online dates.” The idea is new enough as it is, that putting up with technical talk can be both mystifying and interesting. Make it an easy conversation with the patient, so as not to leave him confused and wary of what many confused new ideas and techniques are.

4. Facilitate questions

It’s one thing to include mention of telehealth in the conversation, but then you need to encourage your patients to ask questions, so you and your staff need to have answers ready. Providers are also placing materials in their rooms, inviting their patients to communicate with their staff about telehealth. When patients have the opportunity to ask about telehealth, especially from a trusted provider, they will feel more comfortable about it. Make sure the telehealth solution you choose, can offer some type of information sharing or training for employees.

5. Business Presentation – Show and Tell

I love the idea of ​​pitching your solution to your employees (and even patients). It appears that this practice is involved. You can conduct a mock consultation with a front desk assistant and show how easy and efficient the consultation is. You can show them that it works. There is no one better than you, and the more you practice, the more confident you will become too.

6. Telehealth trade tools

I’ve seen a telehealth initiative fail because patients figured they needed a desktop computer, or a top-of-the-line smartphone to access the solution. Reassure your patient that they will likely have all the tools they need and that they will most likely not require any expense from them. Make sure your patients know what they need and that it probably doesn’t require more outlay on their part. Chances are, they already have everything they need. There is often a perception that this is complex and requires additional equipment. Showing how easy it is will set the record straight.

In answering the question of why one practice has a thriving telehealth initiative and another does not, the provider’s involvement and involvement plays a huge role in success. Installing a new solution, sitting back and waiting for it to happen is doomed to failure. Like any good idea, you have to tell people about it. The secret is to put yourself in the patients shoes. When you analyze a new solution, think of it from their point of view. Once you instill patient confidence in your telehealth solution, you’ll wonder what you did without it.

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