Technology integration is bringing a new era of patient-centered care that is efficient, accessible, and usable in the constantly changing healthcare landscape. Real-time remote consultations are emerging as a transformative force, bridging geographical gaps and redefining the traditional patient-doctor relationship.
Better Patient Experience
Whether to schedule follow-up appointments or routine check-ins, remote consultations give patients the flexibility and convenience they demand. They also allow healthcare professionals to maintain ongoing relationships with their patients.
A well-delivered remote consultation model like those offered by Agora.io can improve healthcare by reducing waiting times, prioritizing appointments, optimizing capacity and enhancing patient experience. It can also help address health inequalities by increasing access to personalized care and expanding the choice of healthcare services.
However, it is important to consider how the uptake of remote consultations may exacerbate existing health inequalities in some groups, such as older people and those with low educational attainment or with English as a second language. More research is needed to explore the barriers to remote consultation uptake by sociodemographic groups to ensure that processes are designed to mitigate these inequalities.
Providing patients with a positive healthcare experience is a top priority. To achieve this, hospital staff should improve department communications and facilitate patient flow. This can be done by implementing electronic patient portals, integrating systems to eliminate duplicate data entry, and establishing one-stop customer service centers.
Real-Time Remote Consultations
Real-time remote consultations can prevent unnecessary in-person referrals to specialists, reduce wait times for specialist feedback, and eliminate the need for patients to travel. They can also help reduce healthcare staff exposure to the virus and allow patients to maintain their relationship with a particular healthcare provider even during the pandemic.
However, many studies exploring patient uptake of remote consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic have been based on small samples or have used qualitative methodologies. This review aims to synthesize the available evidence systematically, including thematic and narrative synthesis.
Twenty-nine studies were included in the review. Uptake of video and telephone consultations ranged from 5% to 78%, with younger patients being more likely than older ones to use these services. Furthermore, patients with lower educational attainment, those living on low household incomes and who do not speak English as their first language were less likely to engage in these services. It is important to understand what factors influence the uptake of telehealth services to ensure that policies are in place to mitigate digital exclusion for all groups of disadvantaged patients.
Personalized healthcare is essential for improving outcomes and elevating the patient experience. Rapid transformations in data analytics and automation enable providers to tailor their communications to meet each patient where they are when needed.
During the coronavirus pandemic, remote consultations allowed healthcare professionals to reach patients who may otherwise have been too sick to travel. These include those living in rural areas, those who are at high risk of infection or who are self-isolating for a variety of reasons. It also allows primary care providers to send information such as exam notes, history, test results and X-rays to specialists for review before arranging a face-to-face visit. The uptake of remote consultations is increasing as healthcare consumers and providers get used to this type of care delivery. However, effective processes are needed to ensure that remote consultations are offered appropriately and to all sociodemographic groups in a way that mitigates health disparities. This includes ensuring that communication is delivered in the patient’s preferred language as well as offering self-service options that are convenient and accessible for all patients.
Reduced Wait Times
Long wait times can make patients feel frustrated and anxious. While some waits may be unavoidable, clear communication can reduce most waits.
With the right software, it’s easy for healthcare professionals to track patient waiting times. Automating the process can save time by eliminating manual data entry. This also helps reduce errors caused by human error.
Another way to improve patient waiting times is to use software that can track patient wait time trends over some time. This can help medical professionals pinpoint problem areas and take action. For example, if your clinic is always running behind schedule, you can call patients ahead and estimate how long they will have to wait before seeing the doctor.
This can help minimize patient frustration and walkouts. Also, by implementing a system that can automatically sync with EHR systems, more time can be spent on patient care and less on administrative work. This is important because research shows that for every hour a physician spends face-to-face with patients, they spend 2 hours on electronic health records or desk work.
A healthcare facility can improve efficiency by automating manual tasks, reducing downtime, and addressing process inefficiencies. This helps to reduce costs and improve patient care.
In the digital era, it is critical to use technology in healthcare that allows for better patient communication. This is why many healthcare organizations have shifted to using telehealth technologies such as remote consultations, e-prescribing, and e-billing. This also allows healthcare workers to focus on patient-centered care rather than administrative tasks.
Additionally, incorporating technological innovations such as mixed reality can be a way to revolutionize patient consultations in the future. However, it is important to note that remote consultations may still perpetuate or exacerbate existing health inequalities in access to healthcare for some patient groups. Further research is needed to understand the underlying factors that influence this and to determine how effective processes can be designed to minimize these disparities. For example, a study found that patients of non-white ethnicity were less likely to use telehealth services compared to those of white ethnicity. This could be due to a need for more digital literacy or limited internet access.