Why telemedicine improves patient engagement

Patient engagement seems to be the latest big buzz phrase these days, and for many healthcare organizations that means implementing a telemedicine offering to their patients.

Do you think filling out forms, putting in your credit card or insurance information, waiting in a queue to see a doctor you’ve never met before and will never see again is going to be great for patient engagement?

What happens after they hang up? What happens if the patient forgot to ask a question and remembered five minutes later? They have to go back into the queue and pay again. Even worse, what if they don’t know how to use the platform? Who will help them?

If you’re a patient do these barriers to entry sound easy or fair?

I’ve done it before and I quit when they asked for money because I wasn’t confident I would get the result I wanted out of the virtual visit, I didn’t know who I was going to speak too, I didn’t know if they were going to be able to help with my sore throat and I didn’t know enough about how the platform worked to understand if I knew how to do it myself.

My point is, if you want a high adoption rate, there can be NO BARRIER TO ENTRY. It must be free for the patient and use technology they’re already comfortable with.

Which brings me to a question we at CirrusMD love to ask: Who has the best access to healthcare? No, not Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. Ok fine, they have great access to care but let’s focus on the 99%. The real answer is those with a friend or family member that’s a doctor.

The doctors reading this post are nodding their heads—yep!

What do people with that access to care do when they’re not feeling well? They punch in a four-digit password on their phone and text their doctor friend or family member.

What if you could provide the same virtual front door to care to all your patients? Improve their health literacy and increase shared decision making by letting them know everything is fine and there’s no action required, write a prescription, or refer them to lab work or back to their primary care physician or an in-network specialist?

We haven’t even gotten to the best part—they can follow up on the same platform with no barrier to entry in 30 minutes, three hours, or five days because we end every interaction with, “let’s stay in touch, text me anytime.” Seems pretty obvious to me.

What about our fee-for-service patients? Some of you are squirming in your seats thinking “Wait right there, Nick. What about our health system/providers that are still fee-for-service? You are going to cannibalize our business.”

What you’re missing is that we’re only going to put your patient population that’s at risk on the platform. That allows your remaining fee-for-service business to thrive because there are suddenly more open appointments available for those patients. So now you’re hitting roughly 70 percent of your quality measures and avoidable utilization benchmarks keeping your patients in your system and preventing leakage.

Now imagine this: Everyone having the exact same access to a doctor within in their own health system, enjoying response times under one minute and continuous follow up. A true relationship with their health system.

Will that increase patient engagement? You bet it will!

Lastly for all my population health folks out there. When you capture a patient on an application like CirrusMD, you can not only manage potentially avoidable utilization, reducing admissions and readmissions, but you can also reach out to your patient population through messaging, alerts, reminders, posters, incentives, and more.

Cool, right?