The U.S. healthcare industry is already experiencing virtual care’s initial promise for improving access to care and creating an on-demand healthcare experience. But we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deepening the telehealth consumer experience and aligning it with growing consumer expectations.
As virtual care evolves, healthcare consumers will increasingly look for higher levels of consumer-centricity: Are you anticipating my needs? Can I access the right care, exactly when I need it, or do I have to jump through hoops? Are my interactions with you personalized to my needs? Do you know I have asthma and received my flu shot last week? Can you use technology and my data in ways that benefit me more than they benefit you?
These are questions consumers will soon be asking, more and more. So how can health plans, ACOs and other care providers be ready? How can you get ahead of where the industry is headed? Start today by discovering innovative ways to take telehealth to new levels of consumer-centricity.
Here are a few ideas to get you started—some of which are already available today and some of which are visions of where telehealth could be … soon.
Create a command center. Consumers—who are not feeling well already or may be worried about the one they are caring for—shouldn’t have to consider exactly what kind of care they might need before connecting to virtual help (i.e., nurse advice, physician, mental health specialist or other type of care). Providing a front-door virtual clinic with one point of triaged access creates a telehealth “command center” that can improve patient flow optimization, user satisfaction and speed-to-care.
Make interactions quicker and easier. No one wants to be scrambling for a phone number or website address at 2 a.m. when a baby has a high fever. If you haven’t already, consider making your one care-access point directly via a free app or text-to-connect feature.
Don’t charge a copay—at least not before you know what kind of virtual care is needed. As Carenet Health CEO John Erwin says, that’s like Amazon charging consumers to browse for ebooks. Read more about telehealth with no copay here.
Remember consumer preferences and information. Data-driven personalization will be key to moving telehealth forward. Consumers shouldn’t have to repeat information every time they use virtual care. (Of course, data integration will be necessary and privacy laws will need to be followed.) Think about how you can demonstrate you know your telehealth users and use that information to improve their care and experience.
Create timely, meaningful and convenient interactions that support follow-up care. Telehealth services shouldn’t end when a call or chat is completed. Consider instituting a follow-up care protocol after a virtual visit, and ensure that follow-up is provided in the way the patient wants (because you asked when they were receiving care).
Empower consumers to select their telehealth professionals. For virtual care to truly become a game-changer, consumers will want to have a say in who they talk to or see during telehealth engagements. Consider allowing consumers to choose a specific virtual care clinician when they are available and/or book time on their schedules in the future.
Gather and monitor real-time feedback on the quality of service. Today’s technology allows telehealth providers to get feedback about interactions immediately after an interaction—or even during a care engagement. Satisfaction can be addressed quickly, before a patient decides to post about a bad experience online.
Ensure data-driven care conversations. Data integration is critical here. Clinicians need patient/health plan member data to inform treatment options and education opportunities. For example, a telehealth nurse should be able to see that the person they are interacting with has diabetes and was treated last week for a swollen leg.
Help patients manage costs during the telehealth interaction. Just one example: If a consumer interacts via virtual care and ends up needing in-person medical attention, the telehealth professional could provide information about locations and costs for various urgent care centers in the patient’s area.
Connect to non-telehealth services. In the age of Door Dash and Uber, consumers shouldn’t have to make another call or take another step when additional steps are needed for their care. For example, telehealth teams could be set up to schedule follow-up doctor appointments, arrange for transportation to urgent care during an interaction or even coordinate home delivery of medications that were prescribed during a virtual consult.
At Carenet Health, we’re dedicated to making on-demand virtual care more easily available, consumer-friendly and affordable. And we’re always looking for ways to elevate our clients’ consumer experiences, including telehealth interactions. Let’s brainstorm together to find custom solutions that will please your health plan members or patients, and give you a distinct competitive advantage.
If you’re specifically interested in offering telehealth with no copay, our CEO is scheduling appointments to discuss that concept. You can book a 15-minute introductory call here.