With Covid-19 came a stream of new medical solutions (virtual consulting) that opened up to more patients its benefits and opportunities. More publicity, more awareness and more conversations have introduced TV healthcare to the general public and it can only be good for everyone. The question remains: how to build trust in telehealth for patients to turn to it the next time they need medical care?
1. Be the one to introduce the benefits of telehealth and start a conversation
I talked to the provider and asked: how did you get health care so correctly and quickly? He said I tell my patients they are crazy if they don’t use it. He talks to them about it in his rooms and makes it part of his consultation. He focuses on the benefits of telecare for the patient, such as convenience factors, on the fact that they save time and money without reaching his rooms. He mentions that he can usually extend assistance on the same day by charging them a lower fee, and often gives free advice on using his solution. He also notes that his patients, although aware of telehealth as a solution, begin to trust services only after he is introduced to the subject.
2. Market your services
The problem with telehealth is that patients know that health care providers do offer it. Potentially it takes quite a while and I often see the provider seem a month or so away saying their patients aren’t interested. More often than not, they didn’t even know they could use it.
However, the same patients continue to use WhatsApp and email – forms of telehealth, although not necessarily safe.
It is not uncommon for practitioners to have one pager that they have developed with benefits for their patients, how to use them, and this is a great place to include rates for counseling. Patients like to have something tangible. Posting information on Facebook, LinkedIn and utility circulars is also common practice. One very effective idea I’ve seen in practice is a fridge magnet that contained important information about a telehealth solution. The patient could attach it to the refrigerator door, but this was not only practical, but also served as a constant reminder that the medical service primarily offered such a service.
3. Normal conversation
This was great advice to the provider … stay away from telemedicine jargon, such as “virtual care”. Rather, stick to more well-known phrases such as “make an appointment online”. The idea is new enough as it is, you could say, make it an easy conversation with the patient so as not to leave them confused and wary of new-fangled ideas and technologies for many.
4. Facilitate issues
Including a mention of telehealth in the conversation is one thing, but then you need to encourage your patients to ask questions, so you and your staff need to have answers to them. Vendors also post materials in their rooms, inviting their patients to contact telehealth staff. If patients have the opportunity to ask about telehealth, especially from their trusted provider, they will feel much more comfortable. Make sure the telemedicine solution you choose can offer some information sharing or training for employees.
5. Practical demonstration – show and tell
I like the idea of demonstrating your solution to your staff (and even patients). This shows that practice is involved. You can have a sham consultation with one of your receptionist assistants and show how easy and effective the consultation can be. You can show them that it works. There is no better person to demonstrate than you are, and the more your practice, the more confident you will become.
6. Tools of telemedicine trade
I saw how the telemedicine initiative failed because patients had the impression that they needed a desktop computer or the best smartphone to access the solution. Assure your patient that he or she probably has all the tools he or she needs and that it will most likely not cost them anything. Make sure your patients know what they need and that it probably doesn’t require additional costs on their part. Most likely, they already have everything you need. It is often thought that this is difficult and requires additional equipment. Demonstrate how simple it is to fix the record.
When asked why in one practice there is a thriving initiative in the field of telehealth and in another – no, the intervention and involvement of the provider play a big role in success. Establish a new solution, sit back and wait for what will happen, will not work. Like any good idea, it needs to be told to people. The secret is to put yourself in the patient’s shoes. When you analyze a new solution, think about it from their perspective. Once you highlight patients ’trust in their telemedicine health solution, you’ll be wondering what you’ve ever done without it.