Improving the patient experience by optimizing telehealth through COVID-19 and beyond
We are facing a global healthcare crisis unlike any in our recent history. Within the span of a few short weeks, we saw our lives and practices drastically change. COVID-19 has fundamentally altered how medical care is delivered today and possibly for many years to come. Clinicians need to rise to the challenge to provide the best possible care in this time of change and uncertainty. This includes adjusting the way we communicate with patients. We also need to adapt to the evolving landscape of telehealth. Additionally, we should incorporate new technologies into daily medical practice to drive improved care and efficiency.
The role of clinical decision support in telemedicine
Tens of thousands of doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are now using telemedicine for the first time. How do we maintain our exacting standards of clinical excellence in evaluating and educating patients from afar? We must find new ways to facilitate patient interaction and engagement as we administer care virtually. Now more than ever before, we need the right tools and technology.
We must find new ways to facilitate patient interaction and engagement as we administer care virtually.
The use of tools – such as clinical decision support software – during virtual care visits can help with the following:
- Aid in the diagnosis,
- Guide therapeutic decision-making and
- Enhance patient engagement while helping to keep as many patients as possible out of the acute care setting.
It can assist in triaging patients with suspected COVID-19. It also can help with the diagnosis and management of patients with non-COVID-19 illnesses that require care. And it can help deliver knowledge (patient information, medical images and illustrations) to the patient via screen sharing and e-mail.
Trust begins with transparency
It is imperative that we find ways to build patient trust and confidence. Equally important is to reduce patient anxiety in the virtual environment. Clinical decision support, both during an in-person patient encounter and using telehealth services, facilitates greater transparency. We can show patients on the screen the set of diseases in our differential. Therefore, we can bring them into the diagnostic process, share images representative of their conditions and show words describing their symptoms.
It is imperative that we find ways to build patient trust and confidence and reduce patient anxiety in the virtual environment.
We have made much progress in moving away from a paternalistic system of care delivery to one of partnership with the patient, where we allow and encourage patients to be more active participants in their healthcare decisions. It is important that we continue to move toward a holistic system of care that is problem-oriented and patient-focused. We can transform the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic into opportunities. The rapid adoption of telehealth platforms by providers’ and patients’ necessary acceptance of virtual appointments instead of office visits sets the stage. In training healthcare providers and students on decision-making tools that support virtual care delivery, we can further normalize their use as well as the sharing of information at the point of care.
The dermatology example
Today we are seeing a lot more live telemedicine in dermatology. As a result, more referring providers and specialists are using decision support to provide an essential second opinion, acting as the co-pilot in the cockpit. This is not without challenges. What we see on the patient’s skin is of great importance. In the absence of an in-person visit, it’s essential to have clear, in-focus images of the lesion in order to ascertain the morphology and diagnose a patient’s skin condition when they are not physically in the exam room. Educating the patient in advance on best skin photography practices is key. This will empower patients to improve the overall telehealth experience. Other specialities may need to educate patients in other ways to improve the experience.
The future of telehealth
This crisis has upset traditional models of delivering healthcare in all specialities, accelerating our use of telemedicine and technology. It is critical for our industry to implement proven strategies to optimize this burgeoning technology. Clinical decision support is a great example of an essential “cockpit tool”. This helps to assist providers in evaluating, diagnosing and managing treatment strategies for patients, as well as educating and building trust. We must embrace our future as information intensivists, expertly equipped to logically handle massive amounts of information. In doing so, we can emerge from the pandemic stronger than before. We can move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and with a new set of tools to connect with and treat our patients.
Dental eShare Teledentistry
COVID-19 pandemic poses a unique challenge for everyone, especially medical and dental practices who still need to see patients for treatment care and emergency cases. Keeping you, your team and your patients safe and protected from the COVID-19 infection is an important priority. With the right technology and implementation, your practice will be able to provide continued dental care to your patients through teledentistry. Virtual consultation is a safe and effective solution for providers to assess your patient’s need for critical or emergency care. Dental eShare also offers online patient forms, including patient registration, health history, and financial policy and consent forms.
For more information on Dental eShare teledentistry package, click here.