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Telehealth is more than just video visits

As Allscripts employees, we bring our own experiences as patients – and for many of us, as clinicians –  to our work.

For example, I remember when I was a nurse in the hospital and how difficult it was to contact my doctor, or get my kids in for sick visits. Leaving messages, and not being available when the call back came through. Not having the flexibility to take my kids to the pediatrician during normal business hours. Often our only option was to go to an urgent care center in the evening.

Nurses aren’t the only ones who face this challenge, which is why many healthcare organizations are losing business to urgent care centers and minute clinics. Patients are willing to pay a little more for convenience when it comes to urgent, episodic care.

Telehealth is a hot topic and most people immediately jump to the idea of a virtual video visit. In fact, one of my colleagues, Jessica Long, wrote about her recent personal encounters with virtual health care:

We were camping out of town when my youngest son woke up with pink eye. I knew we needed to get him into an urgent care ASAP and used my phone to Google the nearest one. In the paid section of results, I saw an advertisement for a virtual urgent care option. 

The experience was amazing! I went to the site, provided basic demographics, short history and review of systems related to the problem, paid the $35 co-pay and gave my preferred method of contact (face time). A nurse practitioner contacted me within 15 minutes.

She asked my son some questions, then asked me some questions, and she performed some basic tests (follow Mommy’s finger with your eyes). After confirming the diagnosis, she helped me locate the closest pharmacy, sent the Rx and then followed up with a very detailed clinical summary. The whole process end to end was about 30 minutes.

I’m certain this virtual service is stealing business from other organizations locally and broadly. The paid search advertising gets the patient in the door, and the experience seals the deal. I will be a repeat customer.

Video visits are great, there’s no question about that. But physician offices might start with email visits as a more economical telehealth option.

Email visits, or eVisits, are based on asynchronous secure messaging. Patients register their chief complaint, respond to related questions, and expect a response within a short period of time. Clinicians can watch this queue and treat patients, or delegate tasks, via email without the overhead or administrative staff costs associated with regular office visits.

I remember my days as a nurse on the floor of the hospital, and how frustrating it was to play phone tag with doctors to make appointments and get advice. And Jessica’s story is a perfect example of how a virtual visit was more efficient and effective than traditional urgent care visits. Telehealth options are far less disruptive, far more convenient and better enable patients and providers to work together for improved outcomes.

To learn more about Allscripts FollowMyHealth patient engagement platform, contact us.

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