Chances are your organization recognizes the value of telemedicine and already has a solution in place, or is contemplating integrating telemedicine soon. As part of finding the best virtual care solution, some healthcare organizations evaluate the telemedicine feature of their existing Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software. However, they soon find that several key capabilities are missing from the EMR to provide a complete virtual care solution including:
- Rapid registration
- Delivery of the full patient journey
- Urgent real-time scheduling
- Virtual triage and waiting rooms
Patients want control and convenience over their healthcare. Part of that is the ability to use a virtual care platform with immediacy ⏤ especially on a mobile device. They want to download an app, answer the minimum of questions required and see their provider. Most EMR patient portals are not designed with the patient’s time and convenience in mind. Long registration forms are required before entering a visit. Streamlined patient intake questions, expedite the registration process and improve the patient’s experience.
Delivery of the full patient journey
The patient’s journey is extremely important. A virtual care platform optimizes this journey by providing a pathway from registration to check-in, visit to prescription, and billing to discharge. The journey for an urgent care or primary care patient may be minimal and only involve one provider, but a patient with more chronic conditions, or one that has been through a hospitalization will have a longer and more complicated journey. The EMR is useful as a repository of information throughout the journey, but the vehicle that takes the patient through safely and securely is the virtual care platform.
Urgent real-time scheduling
This requirement is the essence of healthcare consumerism. A virtual care platform, like eVisit, provides options to see a patient immediately or to show patients their provider’s schedule and allow them to decide when they want to be seen. Patients have so much more control than they’ve had before. Unnecessary ED visit rates will fall because patients are now just a tap of the screen away from seeing a provider quickly, easing the anxiety of wondering if they should make the trip to the ED or confirming they should go.
Virtual triage and waiting rooms
As patients queue up in a virtual waiting room, providers have the opportunity to triage them according to chief complaint, symptoms, or wait times. Most EMRs do not provide insight of who is waiting to be seen, let alone the severity of their complaint and condition. A virtual care platform provides a complete view of these queued patients within the confines of the virtual waiting room. Providers are not only able to triage patients, but prep for visits, see visit history, and stay focused on patient care and next steps.
Is “Free” really free?
While the telemedicine feature of your EMR may seem like a 'free' solution, the budget, resources and time required to fill the gaps above gets expensive. Often times, with this type of endeavor the question becomes: do you have the internal talent, budget, infrastructure and time to do this properly? First, let’s look at what’s involved. A virtual care visit is more than just a video conference between a patient and a provider, and the four key components above will most likely need to be purchased or built-out bespoke, then tested and retested. In the short-term you are looking at incurring significant overhead with new employees, contracted third-party vendors, and the redirection of resources from other projects. In the long-term there will be a need to constantly monitor, quality test, upgrade and validate the systems created.
Will it be a satisfactory experience?
Consider, if you will, that one of the top drivers of patient acquisition and retention today is an overall positive patient convenience and user experience. EMRs were built for backend administrators to collect and manage patient medical records. Virtual care is all about the patient. The user interface needs to be easy and interactive, somewhere between Facebook and Fortnight. EMRs were not designed for this level of easy use and many patients find direct interaction with an EMRs telemedicine feature to be confusing and time-consuming -- defeating the purpose of convenient, accessible care.
Another part of the overall positive experience equation is good and timely support. When patients aren't sure how to connect, which browser to use, or app functionality, providing patient support is a must-have. With virtual care solutions, like eVisit, patient support is only a phone call away to make sure they get into the visit and have a successful experience.
What happens when you need to scale?
If you’re using your EMR for telemedicine and you eventually need to change EMR vendors, what do you do? Changing EMR vendors, while not an inevitability, is certainly a possibility, will negate all the time and money spent on creating your telehealth offering since it was created within the old EMR. Planning for such contingencies shows strong strategic thinking and forethought.
What’s the answer?
According to industry leaders, the best approach to telemedicine is to enhance your EMR with an interoperable enterprise virtual care platform. Your virtual care platform should augment and optimize your EMR by providing improved continuity of care while taking advantage of the features and benefits it delivers above and beyond those of the EMR’s standard list of features.
A Virtual Care Platform
The bottom line is you will create improved patient experience which correlates to improved patient retention and improved patient outcomes when you use a proven and robust virtual care platform that’s integrated with your current EMR. Look at eVisit’s Virtual Care Platform and see how it can drive better outcomes, revenue, and efficiencies.