Telehealth has the potential to radically reimagine the patient-provider relationship in ways that can inflect patient experience. This aspect of telehealth is where the bar for virtual patient experience will rise the most long-term, and where health care organizations have a running start compared to competitors, given their existing patient relationships.
Highlighted below are some emerging ideas for how virtual visits can transform the patient-provider relationship. While organizations do not need to pursue all at once, the most successful will not simply recreate an in-person visit virtually, but will take advantage of what virtual visits can uniquely offer.
Expand virtual visits beyond one-on-one interactions
Because virtual care overcomes access barriers due to travel time and physical distance, it doesn’t just make care more convenient for patients, but for their family members and caregivers to join visits as well. For example, it’s easier for a family member to join a therapy session, or a caregiver to receive instructions from the clinician directly and ask clarifying questions live. Not to mention, the broader care team (including specialists) can join visits to supplement clinical and psychosocial information to collaboratively inform the care plan—alleviating some of the burden of care coordination on patients and families.
Build a holistic understanding of patients’ day-to-day
Despite the physical distance, virtual visits hold the potential for a radically more personal visit, harkening back to the days of the physician house visit—albeit virtually. Similar to house visits, virtual visits can reduce the patient-provider power imbalance and create a more relaxed care experience for patients in the comfort of their home.
Virtual visits can also unlock intel that clinicians cannot discern from the clinic or exam room. When used purposefully, virtual visits can help clinicians understand how patients’ clinical conditions intersect with their daily lives. For example, a physician, pharmacist, or care manager can ascertain a wealth of new information by going through a medicine cabinet, refrigerator, or areas with safety concerns in real-time with their patients virtually.
Co-create a more actionable patient medical record
As organizations move from analog data entry to digital data collection, there is an increased opportunity to use virtual channels to co-create medical records with patients. Some organizations have already opened medical records to patients to flag errors and add information. Virtual pre-visit data collection presents an opportunity to radically expand this practice. And, by providing new or corrected information ahead of the visit, patients can equip clinicians with more actionable information at the point of care.
Moving forward, remote monitoring tools will provide even more patient data (e.g., heart rate, BP, lifestyle, mental health), giving clinicians a deeper understanding of patients’ daily lives. Organizations that innovate and seamlessly integrate these tools into the medical record will be best positioned to not only retain patients, but deliver better care anticipating patients’ needs, remotely driving personalized care decisions, and engaging patients in sustained behavior change.