Telehealth: 7 Ways to Incorporate Technology Into Your Practice

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Written and reviewed by James Maskell


Updated on: April 2, 2020

Have you thought about how telehealth and new automation technology can help grow your healthcare practice?

Now more than ever, practitioners are exploring emerging health care technologies that have the potential to help grow their practice. Keep reading to learn more about telehealth platforms, as well as seven straight-forward ways practitioners can use new medical technology to help modernize healthcare practices of any size.

Did you know?
Telehealth or telemedicine, by definition, uses technology to improve the efficiency of communications between healthcare providers, patients, and clinics. (7)(8)

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New digital medical technology, such as automated appointment reminders, can give you more time as a practitioner to focus on delivering the best possible care.

7 ways practitioners are using telemedicine for virtual practice

Running a practice can be complicated. It involves a lot of moving parts, to say the least. It requires a variety of skill sets, tools and technology, and a lot more business savvy than practitioners typically receive throughout their formal education. Keeping up with all the administrative duties often leaves little time for practitioners to focus on what matters most — providing quality care to patients.

Luckily, that’s where telemedicine comes in. As demonstrated above, there are countless new healthcare software tools and telehealth tactics you can use to help streamline and modernize any practice.

Did you know?
Telehealth improves the overall quality of patient care. A recent review of telemedicine studies found that both telephone-based support and telemonitoring of vital signs of individuals with heart failure reduced the risk of death and hospitalization and improved quality of life. (5)

Here are seven of the top ways practitioners use telemedicine to optimize their practices.

1. Offer virtual appointments

Patients don’t always want to or sometimes can’t make the trip to their practitioner’s office for an annual check-up or to ask a question they have about supplements. This may be especially true when a practitioner’s office hours always seem to coincide with a patient’s work schedule. Virtual visits give patients the ability to receive treatment without the hassle of commuting to an office visit.

Virtual visits, in which patients connect with their practitioners via their smartphone, computer, or tablet, provide a fast, secure, cost-effective, and easy way to provide care. Plus, this gives practitioners the ability to take a virtual appointment from wherever they can connect to WiFi. (10)

Virtual video appointments also provide unparalleled flexibility for busy patients, giving patients the ability to see a practitioner on their time. With virtual visits, there is no stress about commuting and parking. There is less sitting and waiting, which means significant time savings. (6)

It can be an especially valuable tool to use with patients who are often late to appointments or cancel due to a hectic schedule.

Offering virtual appointments to your list of services provides patients with simple, on-demand care – without the added time and cost of most in-person visits!

Virtual care also allows you to connect with a broader range of patients, giving practitioners the ability to serve a more extensive and diverse patient base. Patients living in rural areas have better access to quality healthcare without either parties needing to commute.

2. Give your patients the option to book online

Why not make it easy for your patients to book appointments online? Most consumers today are used to interacting with simple interfaces that give them the option to make choices in their own time. These days, you don’t have to call in to make an appointment at the license bureau or book a spot in a workout class —and from a patient’s point of view, booking an appointment should be just as easy.

Try placing a ‘Book your next appointment’ button prominently on your website. If you’ve gone ahead and implemented automated emails, you can send an email reminder to patients to schedule and book their regular appointments. By having an online booking interface, you give your patients the option to book at their convenience.

Ideally, you want to use an online booking platform that seamlessly integrates with your front office calendar. This way, once you are up and running on digital appointments, you can easily send email and text appointment reminders. This will help you eliminate costly no-shows.

Did you know?
Over 50% of appointments booked online are from new patients. (4)

person sitting in a chair looking at their phone

Text and email reminders can go a long way when it comes to appointments, refills, and medical compliance.

3. Send out automated reminders

There are countless reasons why patients miss appointments. Any practitioner on a lean budget knows that these costs can add up over time. Automated alerts and reminders targeting patients are advantageous telehealth tools for any practice. (11)

It can be helpful to set up automatic reminders and require a patient to confirm an appointment 24 to 48 hours prior, depending on your practice volume. For example, if a patient books online through your website, send over a text message and email 72 hours before the appointment to confirm or reschedule to a more convenient time.

Did you know?
Text reminders can be used to help reach patients outside of regular clinic settings. You can send out individualized and automated reminders to patients. (11)

You can also set up automated emails to new patients specific to their first treatment session. For example, you can email them the week before their appointment letting them know about what they should expect as a patient at your practice. (12)

Once a patient confirms an appointment, you can send a text or email the day before their appointment to remind them of the time and address.

As a practitioner, if you are running late, you also have the option of letting your patient know instead of keeping them in the waiting room for hours. You can text all the patients you are seeing that day to let them know you are running late.

4. Utilize digital intake forms

Several benefits come with having digital intake forms available for patients on your website. For one thing, your patients can fill out their intake forms at their leisure.

Digital intake forms also cut out the time a patient would typically spend sitting out in a waiting room with a clipboard or tablet. It also allows you to check out the patient’s insurance benefits in advance and to declutter your office from all that paperwork. (2)

Depending on what software you are using for digital intake, digital forms can be sent automatically via email and text. You can also send a message specifically based on the appointment type from your schedule.

Before you start implementing digital intake forms, keep in mind you need to choose a digital intake service provider that is HIPAA compliant. It’s important to consider security when you are storing sensitive patient information. That’s where using cloud storage comes in. (1)

5. Secure patient information sharing

If you are using and sharing data from your patient’s health information via online intake forms, surveys, emails, you should consider cloud storage. (13)

Cloud storage, also known as cloud computing, is a way of saving the data that’s uploaded from your computer’s hard drive to another hard drive. This hard drive often belongs to a cloud storage service that has data encryption.

Using a cloud for your patient information will save you time and space. By having all of your patient files accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection, you don’t have to make a trip to the office.

You can also easily send files to colleagues if necessary while you are on the go. And as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about organizing paperwork at the office anymore!

If you are using a HIPAA-compliant electronic health record (EHR), you can take comfort in knowing that patient data is securely stored in one place.

6. Set up accounts payable automation

How do you process invoices and payments from patients? Paper-based accounts payable processes are outdated and full of drawbacks, such as manual input errors and the risk of noncompliance with reporting regulations. It can be a huge time saver to implement accounts payable automation, which allows you to cut your invoice processing time in half.

woman at her laptop with credit card in her hand, ready to make a payment online

By setting up accounts payable automation, you can cut your invoice processing time in half. It’s easy and convenient.

Whether you have your own private practice or work for a large health company, automating your accounts payable could eliminate costly, time-consuming manual tasks.

Did you know?
Accounts payable automation solution removes processing bottlenecks and gives you more time to focus on caring for patients.

7. Record virtual appointments

Have you considered recording your appointments with patients and storing them via a patient portal platform that is HIPAA compliant? Recording consultations and sharing them often helps patients better understand and recall the information their practitioner gives them during an appointment. (3)

Today, many practitioners are moving to a more transparent model with their patients, allowing patients to take a more active role in their healthcare. Having access to appointments as video or audio files makes it easier for patients to clarify something they may have missed during an appointment. (9)

The bottom line

While implementing these suggestions may seem complicated — it doesn’t have to be! Software for online bookings, digital intakes, virtual appointments, and emailed and text message appointment reminders can all be found on one platform.

By employing some or all of the emerging technology-centric strategies listed above, practitioners can spend more time focusing on providing quality care to patients. Regardless of the digital tools you choose, telehealth can help optimize efficiency, patient engagement, and professional reputation, as well as help grow your practice.

Recommended tools by Fullscript practitioners:

You can also encourage your patients to use health and wellness applications to track and support their wellness goals.

Looking for ways to help market your practice and improve patient adherence? Check out our article on all the creative ways you can market your practice.

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  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. (n.d.). Security and HIPAA. Retrieved from https://www.aaaai.org/practice-resources/running-your-practice/practice-management-resources/Telemedicine/HIPAA
  2. Christian, J., Dasgupta, N., Jordan, M., Juneja, M., Nielsen, W., & Reites, J. (2018). Digital health and patient registries: Today, tomorrow, and the future. In R.E. Gliklich, N.A. Dreyer, M.B. Leavy, et al. (Eds.). 21st century patient registries: Registries for evaluating patient outcomes: A user’s Guide: 3rd edition, addendum [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
  3. Gardner, M. R., Jenkins, S. M., O’Neil, D. A., Wood, D. L., Spurrier, B. R., & Pruthi, S. (2015). Perceptions of video-based appointments from the patient’s home: A patient survey. Telemedicine Journal and E-health, 21(4), 281–285.
  4. GetApp. (2018). [RESEARCH] Online booking options can get you more clients. Retrieved from https://lab.getapp.com/research-online-booking-importance-of-appointment-scheduling/
  5. Inglis, S.C., Clark, R.A., Dierckx, R., Prieto‐Merino, D., & Cleland, J.G.F. (2015). Structured telephone support or non‐invasive telemonitoring for patients with heart failure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 10, CD007228.
  6. McGrail, K. M., Ahuja, M. A., & Leaver, C. A. (2017). Virtual visits and patient-centered care: Results of a patient survey and observational study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 19(5), e177.
  7. Myers, M.R. (2003). Telemedicine: An emerging health care technology. The Health Care Manager, 22(3), 219-23.
  8. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (2016). Telehealth. Retrieved from https://www.nibib.nih.gov/science-education/science-topics/telehealth
  9. O’Connell Francischetto, E., Damery, S., Ferguson, J., Combes, G., & myVideoClinic randomised evaluation steering group (2018). Video clinics versus standard face-to-face appointments for liver transplant patients in routine hospital outpatient care: Study protocol for a pragmatic randomised evaluation of myVideoClinic. Trials, 19(1), 574.
  10. Parish, T., Ratnaraj, M., & Ahmed, T. J. (2019). Virtual clinics in the present – A predictor for the future?. Future Healthcare Journal, 6(Suppl 2), 37.
  11. Perri-Moore, S., Kapsandoy, S., Doyon, K., Hill, B., Archer, M., Shane-McWhorter, L., Bray, B. E., & Zeng-Treitler, Q. (2016). Automated alerts and reminders targeting patients: A review of the literature. Patient Education and Counseling, 99(6), 953–959.
  12. Schwebel, F. J., & Larimer, M. E. (2018). Using text message reminders in health care services: A narrative literature review. Internet Interventions, 13, 82–104.
  13. Shao, Z., Yang, B., Zhang, W., Zhao, Y., Wu, Z., & Miao, M. (2015). Secure medical information sharing in cloud computing. Technology Health Care, 23(Suppl 1), S133-7.