As Healthcare Evolves Toward Telehealth, Is Your Doctor Ready?

COVID-19 has sure changed healthcare and how we think about it.

With the risk of infection, many, if not all, doctors’ offices have put in place new protocols on how and when they see patients, including telehealth. Even before the onset of the pandemic, Millennials were driving the push toward a more digital approach to medicine.

The time-consuming and sometimes inconvenient nature of in-person care is a key reason why 20- and 30-somethings were the most likely generation to swap the doctor’s office for their couch at home and use telehealth even before the pandemic, according to Amwell’s Telehealth Index: 2019 Consumer Survey. Millennials continued this trend during the first few months of the pandemic when as many as 80% of all in-person appointments were canceled.

According to WELL Data Analytics Team, which analyzed appointment data from 116 hospital systems, adults ages 40 and under had the highest overall telehealth adoption rate. They also continued to use virtual care for 20% of all appointments through mid-June 2020—twice the rate of other age groups.

Making appointments online and seeing your physician without leaving home does have its benefits. Chilmark Research estimates that by 2025, 15% to 25% of all primary care visits will be conducted virtually in the United States. As telehealth use grows and patients come to expect more online services from their doctors, it’s important to ask your doctor about available tools to help you stay connected and save time.

Explore the new age of ambulatory care 

One company leading the evolution in patient engagement technologies is NextGen Healthcare. The NextGen® Patient Experience Platform saves time for health care teams and boosts convenience for patients. NextGen Healthcare experts suggest you ask your doctor about the following.

* Online patient access: How does the patient portal work, and what features does it offer? Can you easily send a message to your doctor, request a prescription refill, access your health records and view lab results online?

* Online appointments: Can you schedule your appointments online? Can you view your appointment history and/or modify existing appointments?

* Virtual visits: Does the doctor’s office offer virtual video visits (aka telehealth) for situations that don’t require an in-person office visit (e.g., refill requests, lab results or follow-up appointments)? Are they using a secure and HIPAA-compliant telehealth system? (HIPAA is a law that protects the privacy and confidentiality of patient health records and information.)

* Online bill pay: Can you see your balance and pay a bill electronically without having to call or send payment in the mail?

The future of the doctor-patient relationship

People are comfortable shopping online from their smartphones, tablets or computers. When the coronavirus pandemic started, video chats with friends and family skyrocketed in every age category. Software platforms have enabled us to do almost anything from the comfort of home, and the same expectation now applies to healthcare. There’s no doubt that the patient experience will continue to evolve beyond the confines of a traditional office setting. This growth of consumerism also means you have more choices for where and how you receive healthcare, and this will likely impact how you choose a doctor in the future.

Your health is your top asset. Stay connected to your doctor and take an active role in your health by ensuring your doctor’s practice offers digital patient engagement tools that make it easy for you to stay on top of your healthcare. Through technology, doctors and patients can be more aligned for even better overall health outcomes.