Life has changed drastically around the world because of COVID-19, and we have all had to adapt how we live and work. While the healthcare industry has been at the forefront of the pandemic, it has seen some positive changes in terms of increased access to providers. Virtual visits have steadily increased as quarantine continues, with no signs of slowing down. In other words - telehealth is here to stay.
What is telehealth and why is it important?
Simply put, telehealth is the use of digital communications tools to facilitate access to healthcare. It can include phone calls, video chats, healthcare apps and portals, and automated reminders. It decreases in-person touch points (and costs!) and increases knowledge, efficiency, and access for patients along every step of their healthcare journey.
The ability for providers to increase their efficiency and keep their clinics open is matched by the increased patient experience. A recent survey saw 63% of patients who had a virtual visits reply that the appointment was good or excellent while 90% said the quality of care was good if not better than before. The rapid rate of communication and engagement software in healthcare has resulted in a more customized approach to care as patients can engage from any device in any location; this type of hyper-focused interaction has become the standard throughout the pandemic and is likely to continue beyond.
Virtual visits may be here to stay, but some appointments still require a physical examination and must be conducted in person, which means sitting in a waiting room; not exactly a place you want to be during a pandemic.
How can clinics better manage in-person visits?
Patient safety is no longer limited to what happens in the exam room. It begins the moment the patient leaves their home to the moment they return to it. Patients are likely to be anxious about in-person medical appointments, leaving it to clinic staff to reduce stress.
First, clinics need to limit exposure to protect not only patients but their staff. This can mean removing chairs, magazines, toys, and staggering entrances and exits. Minimizing contact between patients can mean spreading out appointments and requiring patients to remain outside the clinic until an examination room is ready.
A virtual waiting room can help manage these extra precautions while setting clear expectations and maintaining transparency at a time when communication has never been more important.
Virtual waiting rooms reduce interruptions for staff as estimated wait times are displayed both in the waiting room and on your clinic website, while virtual patient queues let patients know where they are in line - all while reducing contact.
Most virtual waiting room services can be fully customized to meet the unique needs and workflows of a clinic, whether patients are being seen in-person, virtually, or in a hybrid of the two.
Furthermore, a two-way communication function can enable frontline staff to message specific patients in the queue with additional information like which doors to use, procedures and protocol once inside a clinic, or a reminder to wear a mask.
As temperatures cool and harsh weather arrives, COVID-19 testing facilities that currently have long wait lines outside will need to re-think how they manage their patient queues. A virtual waiting room service could be the answer.
See how Cliniconex can help you transition your line, online.