How to Create Exceptional Virtual-Care Experiences That Delight Patients
// By Diane S. Hopkins //
As more and more physicians offer virtual visits, operational excellence and provider competence are critical to providing positive patient experiences.
Virtual health care has been building momentum slowly since video visits were offered in rural areas in the early 1990s. This new channel for medical care was slow to expand due to limits on payment, adoption of technology by providers, and regulations primarily around provider licensing.
When CMS lifted a variety of restrictions last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine visits exploded across the U.S. A release distributed by HHS in July stated that telehealth use for primary care increased by 50 percent from January 2020 through June 2020.
This rapid change in offering virtual care by physician groups and health systems, coupled with rapid growth in patient demand for virtual visits, didn’t allow for attention as to how to deliver exceptional patient experiences. Since health care industry experts agree that higher levels of virtual care are here to stay, it’s important to create virtual care experience plans to achieve high patient engagement, satisfaction, and compliance.
A number of obvious experience enhancers automatically come with virtual care or telemedicine care. For providers there are a variety of efficiencies in managing wait times, volume, and office operations when patients aren’t physically visiting a clinic or office. For patients, there are great benefits around no travel, parking, or exposure to other sick patients, and less effort overall to get answers and guidance.
Although the care is now provided remotely, it is crucial to protect the human-to-human caring connection and not allow the advances in technology to run over the human empathy experience.
As providers continue to build or expand telemedicine and other virtual health offerings in the new year, it’s a perfect time to commit to refreshing and refining virtual-care patient experience strategies.
Any organization offering virtual care should have a Virtual Care Experience Plan in place that includes the following segments: