We’re often hearing that the world is changing and we’re moving to new ways of living, working and communicating. Remote working opportunities have become the norm and we’ve been on and off video calls with colleagues, family and friends over the past two years. And this hasn’t just applied to our social and work lives, it has also affected how we interact with other services we need to access. Many of the services that have had to adapt have been in the healthcare sector.
With face-to-face appointments dramatically reduced or stopped altogether, the healthcare industry has had to try and adapt. This is where telemedicine came in, and though not an entirely new concept, it was something that had to be introduced and accelerated in order to support healthcare professionals and their patients. We must also remember that, even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, many patients suffered long wait times and clinicians and healthcare staff were under massive pressure. So, telemedicine providers have sought to solve issues caused by the pandemic but they’re also now here to help us with long-terms solutions that could transform the journey’s of both patients and clinicians alike. So, with all of that being said, how do we go about choosing a telemedicine provider when it’s an entirely new concept for us?
Here’s some advice, hints and tips on what to look out for and what to ask when selecting your provider.
First of all, what is telemedicine?
If you’re not familiar with the concept of telemedicine and the technology that comes with it, it combines two major aspects. The first is in regards to ‘tele’ which relates to the specific method of communicating which in this case is video conferencing or calling. And remember, it’s all about face-to-face, real-time communication. The next aspect is ‘medicine’ which relates to the practice and diagnosis of patients, as well as offering treatments, prevention of illnesses and even remote patient monitoring. We must always be careful though not to confuse telemedicine with telehealth. Telehealth is a concept that relates to any type of remote or online communication in healthcare whether that be a text message or an app that offers tips and advice on managing illnesses. Telemedicine specifically relates to the diagnosis and treatments of patients via online face-to-face interactions.
So, once we’ve understood it, how does it help your organisation?
Telemedicine has many benefits and can fit in to improve processes and solve internal problems your organisation and clinicians and/or staff may have been facing. It can help to reduce waiting times by allowing you to fit in more patients online for slots throughout your day, but an extremely important aspect of telemedicine is the opportunity for remote triage and follow-ups. Telemedicine solutions can give you the ability to speak to patients before they come into your practice or healthcare setting so you can either rule them out of having to come in at all, diagnose and treat anything minor online or know that inviting them for an in-person appointment is absolutely necessary. Not only that, but it could reduce the pressure on staff with less footfall through your doors with a certain percentage of appointments being carried out online, especially when it comes to triage or follow up appointments. It’s important to note that most telemedicine solutions do not seek to phase out face-to-face interactions or clinicians, they are there to support processes already in place and to ensure that the patient and clinician journey run smoothly with less pressure on the organisation.
Now, we must look at which supplier to choose and why!
Map out exactly what you need and are looking for. This is vital as many telemedicine solutions will have different platforms. For example, IbisVision has a telemedicine solution for the optometry sector so would only be relevant to this industry. So, remember to be specific about the area you work in when you embark on your search.
Check out any word-of-mouth recommendations first. It’s well known that referrals are an excellent way of getting new suppliers as there’s a certain element of trust and credibility when we know they have been used successfully elsewhere. If you haven’t heard of any, why not reach out to your peers or colleagues for some suggestions!
Check with professional bodies. If you’re having no luck, try reaching out to your industry’s professional body. Chances are they may be aware of some options that are out there and are useful to your sector.
Evaluate and compare. It’s important that, if possible, you pull together a few options and see what each can do for your business. However, this isn’t always necessary, and you may find the perfect fit right away!
Get to know the provider a little more. Make sure to get a comprehensive demo and even try the platform out for yourself. It’s important you get to know the platform and the team to ensure it’s a good fit for your business.
Evaluate the software. Throughout the demonstration process and conversations with the team, you should look at evaluating the software. Here are some questions to ask yourself when doing this:
Finally, test the product. It’s a good idea to test the product you have chosen and are going to be implementing. This allows you to view the user experience for both your staff and patients. This ensures it fits with what you’re looking for and it also user-friendly enough for you to implement.
These steps should help to set you up for success when choosing your telemedicine provider. Getting your organisation in the right place in the digital space is important when looking to implement telemedicine and the technology that comes along with it. Going through these steps will also help you to mitigate any risks that could potentially arise for your business, and helps to get your team prepared!
IbisVision provides telemedicine to the optometry industry. With our technology, optometrists can carry out eye tests with their patients no matter where they are. Find out more by visiting us at www.ibis.vision