Telemedicine: Staying Connected To Your Patients During This Time of Crisis

The world has been rocked by COVID-19 and has transformed into a crisis impacting everyone’s way of life. Healthcare services remain as crucial as ever. The various lockdown regulations, however, are making it difficult for patients and healthcare professionals to connect. Understandably, there’s a significant fear factor attached to people leaving the safety of their home. But this doesn’t mean that healthcare provisions are out of reach.

The emergence of telemedicine means that there is a solution to the unique and unprecedented landscape we find ourselves in. But telemedicine is a term that few healthcare professionals, and even fewer patients, are familiar with. It’s an area of healthcare which has been steadily growing over the last few years, but is now set to accelerate in terms of demand and growth. Many practices are likely to be adopting telemedicine for the first time, so it’s likely that there will be a steep learning curve for doctors and practice owners. However, with the HelloRache guide to telemedicine on your side, you will soon find that you can easily stay connected with your patients.


How Do You Get Started With Telemedicine?

The backbone of telemedicine is software that you will use to connect your healthcare staff with your patients. All you need is internet access and audio and video capabilities. To get the best out of telemedicine, though, you need to equip yourself with the right software. There are many software options to choose from. The majority of these applications are based around collaboration rather than specific healthcare features, but their core benefit is the ability to connect. To save you from sifting through endless reviews, here’s what we recommend:

  • Zoom: This application uses HD video capabilities to deliver high quality video conferencing with real-time messaging. These interactions take place in virtual rooms which are secure and also facilitate file sharing options. The most basic option of Zoom is available on a free pricing plan and is bundled with online support. However, there are also enhanced plans such as Pro ($14.99/mo), Business ($19.99/mo) and Enterprise ($19.99/mo). Investing in these plans grants you additional features such as unlimited cloud storage, company branding and dedicated phone support.
  • Doxy: A dedicated telemedicine app, Doxy has been on the market since 2014 and strives to make telemedicine easy. The application is incredibly secure and easily meets all HIPAA and HITECH requirements. Within the app there are a wealth of features such as HD video capabilities, live chat, viewable patient queues and personalized waiting rooms. The basic version of Doxy is free and comes with unlimited minutes and sessions, but only LD video functionality. Enhanced plans such as Professional ($35/mo) and Clinic ($50/mo) provide additional functions including HD video and audio only calls.
  • Hangouts Meet: Part of Google’s G Suite, Hangouts Meet makes video calls easy. The app can be used from anywhere in the world and setting up a video call is simple. All patients need to do is click on a shared link to enter a meeting. The application can send and receive HD video so crystal clear communication is effortlessly achieved. And, in terms of security, all meetings are encrypted to protect all parties involved. Hangouts Meet, on its own, is a free app, but enhanced and fully integrated plans are available in the form of Basic ($6/mo), Business ($12/mo) and Enterprise ($25/mo).

Naturally, it’s difficult to know exactly which pricing plan to invest in without any prior product experience. Thankfully, free versions of Zoom, Doxy and Hangouts Meet are all available. This makes it possible to trial each one without affecting your budget.

How Does the Telemedicine Process Work?

Now that you are aware of your options for telemedicine software, it’s time to take a quick look at how the telemedicine process works. The most common method for delivering the telemedicine experience is through video conferencing, but it’s not as simple as merely switching on your camera. You will need to follow a number of steps in order to generate a safe and seamless consultation. With that in mind, your process can look similar to this:

  1. Make sure that all necessary equipment is connected. This includes all essential computer hardware such as microphones and storage drives, but also any digital medical equipment that may be required, if you are equipped for that.
  2. The manner in which patients are contacted will vary with different software, but the simplest way to achieve this is by sending a link to a meeting room. All the patient needs to do to accept the invitation is to click it. This can be scheduled for a specific time and with a specific healthcare professional.
  3. As with trips to a physical practice, there is always a risk of holdups and delays for patients and doctors. With telemedicine, this is more likely to be regarding internet issues, so it’s recommended that patients are advised to activate their appointments at least 10 minutes before their scheduled appointment.
  4. With their appointment invitation activated, patients will be transferred to a virtual waiting room. Here they will be placed into a queue which, depending on the software, should be visible to the relevant healthcare professional. This allows doctors to prepare records and, if the software permits it, triage can be performed by nurses.
  5. Once the doctor is available, they will be able to commence the appointment with their next patient. This is as simple as accessing the queue system and clicking on the relevant patient. Each party will then be transferred to a virtual meeting room. It’s here that the face-to-face consultation can take place.
  6. Upon completion of the appointment, the doctor should be given an option to save text, audio and video records of the consultation. This is dependent on patient approval and it’s recommended that is confirmed prior to the virtual appointment.
  7. The final step in the telemedicine procedure is to terminate the call and cut the connection between patient and doctor. It’s always vital that this step is completed by the doctor, this is the only way to ensure peace of mind that no breaches of privacy occur. The doctor, or their medical scribe, is now free to complete the patient’s EHR.

The interface for each application will vary, but the most crucial features will be present across all platforms.

Maximizing Virtual Solutions with Virtual Assistants

It’s clear to see that telemedicine is a great option when it comes to practicing social distancing and preserving the physical and mental health of your patients. However, Telemedicine isn’t the only virtual solution which can be integrated during a crisis. Integrating a HelloRache Healthcare Virtual Assistant® is a flexible and versatile option to assist with your practice’s needs during this time and beyond. These virtual workers are a recent phenomenon and not all practices are familiar with them. So, what is a Healthcare Virtual Assistant®?

Much like the rise of telemedicine, virtual assistants have experienced an incredible surge in popularity over the last five years. A Healthcare Virtual Assistant® is much like any other employee in a medical practice, but there is one major difference: they never once step foot in the practice. Using advances in technology, a virtual assistant can connect to your practice from anywhere in the world. All they need is an internet connection and a PC or laptop. This makes utilizing a Healthcare Virtual Assistant perfect in the current landscape where the need to reduce physical contact is paramount.

HelloRache can connect you with a Healthcare Virtual Assistant®. Our fantastic pool of talent is capable of taking on all the administrative tasks that your practice generates. HelloRache can call upon a virtual assistant to take on practically any administrative task needed. If you need someone to handle the phones at reception, HelloRache can deliver a virtual receptionist. If your doctor needs a medical scribe to take notes during patient visits, HelloRache will find you a virtual scribe. A Healthcare Virtual Assistant can easily be integrated into telemedicine procedures, as they are able to join the patient consultation directly and take notes throughout the appointment.

HelloRache is proud to be competitive. That’s why we offer our world-class Healthcare Virtual Assistant services for just $9 per hour and no contracts. HelloRache offers a form of virtual staffing which is built on simplicity. We can typically connect you to a Healthcare Virtual Assistant within 24 hours. Additionally, there are no setup fees, no contracts, and no minimum terms. You simply pay for what you need, when you need it. This makes our virtual assistant services an excellent value for your money. Best of all, your selected Healthcare Virtual Assistant works with your practice exclusively, providing you with consistent service as they become familiar with your day-to-day procedures, similar to a physical employee in the office.

Final Thoughts

We find ourselves in the midst of an unprecedented crisis where uncertainty is mounting by the hour. And now, more than ever before, we need to ensure that our healthcare system is working to its full potential. That’s why it’s imperative that your practice is able to cope in this new landscape. The demands for social distancing create an immediate barrier to healthcare, but this is where technology can lend a hand. The development of internet and videoconferencing software has allowed medical practices to embrace telemedicine and pass on the benefits to their patients.

We believe telemedicine is at it’s best when combined with a Healthcare Virtual Assistant. These remote workers are a major asset and, in the middle of a crisis, they are indispensable. Packed full of value, they can lighten the administrative load of a busy medical practice with ease. Additionally, if you are challenged by the need for your in-house staff to self-isolate due to the outbreak, a Healthcare Virtual Assistant can provide the support your practice needs.

HelloRache is here to guide you along every step of the way to ensure that your practice remains focused in the middle of this crisis.