Patients can instantly access virtual health websites offering physician consultations, health insurance companies offer telehealth visits, and Medicare Advantage plans are contracting with virtual health companies making it available to its aging members.
TeleHealth brings convenience for patients who experience chronic illness, long commutes to your office, demanding work schedules, and busy family lives. For instance, in a new year-long study of telemedicine use by Massachusetts General Hospital concluded that patients perceived the virtual visit better or the same as an in-office visit. The study was based on the 4 measures from the CAHPS Clinician measures for patient satisfaction.
You may not have given much thought to the effort a patient undergoes just to come to your office. Do you know what it takes for a patient to come to you? Think about ordering your favorite pizza and having it come to you rather than the 30-45 minutes it would take for you to go and pick it up. Let’s explore.
Patients find it more convenient to schedule a telehealth visit time than scheduling a time to come to the office. Why?
Let’s take a look. Your patient, Mary, has a 10:00 am appointment that took her 10 minutes to schedule with your office. She plans to leave from work, so it takes her 15 minutes to get from her desk to her car. The ride to your office takes 30 minutes in good traffic. Parking, walking in, and checking in at reception adds another 15 minutes. Let’s say Mary has to wait 15 minutes before the nurse calls her name. Time with the nurse is another 10-15 minutes.
Mary has spent 90 minutes in her journey before she even sees you. After your 15-minute visit, Mary returns to her office. Total time invested in her 10 am appointment with you—2 hours and 45 minutes. In 2.45 hours, you’ve probably seen eight patients.
Now, let’s look at a telehealth visit. Mary takes 10 minutes to schedule the visit with your office. Next, she takes 1 minute to schedule a conference room for privacy. Mary walks 2 minutes to the conference room, connects to your telehealth portal 1 minute, inputs the reason for the visit, and connects with you uninterrupted for 12 minutes. Total TeleHealth time: 26 minutes—actual work interruption 14 minutes.
Telehealth isn’t a replacement for in-office treatment—it’s a valuable alternative. Think flu & cold season, pandemic, medicine refill, chronic disease management, and routine follow-ups.