Treating Patients Like Customers with Telemedicine

Do you remember all the talk of customer-focused medicine when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was first passed more than a decade ago? Back then, the emphasis was on eliminating the fee-for-service model in favor of a model that relied more heavily on patient satisfaction. This new model called for treating patients like customers.

It turns out that such thinking has not gone by the wayside. It has merely evolved. Healthcare providers are still being encouraged by politicians, regulators, and ACA mandates to get away from fee-for-service. HHS has even restructured Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to account for patient satisfaction.

Adjusting insurance reimbursements is a form of coercion that has not proved successful to date. But there is another way to achieve the same goal: convincing healthcare providers of the need to focus on developing and growing their brands. And one way to do that is to embrace telemedicine with a brand mindset.

  1. Telemedicine Fundamentals

The fundamentals of telemedicine are pretty straightforward. In its simplest form, telemedicine is implemented as a video chat session that allows patient and doctor to visit despite being in separate locations. According to San Antonio-based CSI Health, today’s telemedicine solutions go way beyond simple video chat.

CSI Health products include a full variety of diagnostic tools ranging from infrared thermometer to pulse oximeter and ultrasound/sonogram. Not only do on-board diagnostics give clinicians the edge in terms of actual treatment, but they can also be utilized to enhance a provider’s brand.

  1. Key Brand Enhancements

Imagine a GP working with a local pharmacy chain to set up a dozen medical kiosks around town. Imagine branding those kiosks with the usual visuals – color schemes, logos, etc. But why stop there? Video terminals can also be branded with the strategic use of professionally produced introduction videos. Even electronic payment systems can be branded.

Brand enhancements like these separate the doctor’s kiosks from any others installed in other retail environments. Patients who have a good experience with them will both remember their experiences and associate the positive feelings with the doctor’s brand.

  1. Healthcare Convenience

A big part of treating patients like customers is improving the actual service experience. And one of the best ways to do that is to improve efficiency. Nothing frustrates patients more than arriving 10 minutes early for an appointment only to have to sit in the waiting room for another hour. Keeping patients waiting is both inconvenient and damaging to a provider’s brand.

Very few businesses outside of healthcare world even dream of treating customers that way. If a grocery store decided to keep customers waiting for an hour before they could check out, that store would not be in business very long. Such service only works in healthcare because patients are a captive audience.

  1. On-Demand Consultations

Another big part of the equation is getting on board with the on-demand economy. Like it or not, the on-demand economy is here to stay. Customers expect it in everything from ordering pizza too arranging a hotel stay. The medical industry needs to keep up more than it is willing to admit.

Telemedicine solutions are ideal for on-demand consultations. Patients can walk up to a kiosk, log in, and immediately have access to a registered nurse or nurse practitioner. And if an in-office visit is ultimately needed, it can be scheduled right at the kiosk. That is the sort of thing that makes customers happy.

It is time for healthcare providers to start treating patients like customers. To that end, telemedicine solutions are ideal for enhancing a provider’s brand, making healthcare services more convenient, and tapping into the on-demand economy.

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