By Faraz Zubairi, CEO, ExamMed.
Patient is not a word typically used to describe the current generation of tech savvy, time saving, health conscious millennials – and it shows in their healthcare decisions, too. Fewer individuals choose to see their primary care physician, and more are turning to quick clinics or urgent care offices for care. According to a survey by NPR, one in five respondents reported going to an urgent care facility at least once in the last two years for common ailments because of the lack of available appointments at their primary care provider. And typically, urgent care offices can guarantee same day appointments, with short wait times of 30 minutes or less.
Although patients are commonly turning to these solutions to meet their needs, most still prefer being treated by their own doctor who knows them and their medical history. Ask patients why they opted to go to the urgent care center, or even more cumbersome, the emergency room for a non-emergent issue and the answer generally boils down to convenience. Primary care physicians are finding a solution through telemedicine that not only provides their patients with additional options for care but can increase practice revenue.
Telemedicine provides patients with the opportunity to meet with their doctor regarding common yet non-life-threatening conditions. Some of the conditions that are most commonly treated through telemedicine in a primary care setting are a cough, runny nose, sore throat, musculoskeletal pain, pink eye or urinary symptoms that do not warrant a physical exam to diagnose. Additionally, lab reviews, medication refills, and managing widespread chronic conditions including diabetes and hypertension can be effectively handled through virtual visits.
By seeing these patients virtually in addition to in-office visits, these physicians can maximize their time by increasing the number of patients they see in a day while still maintaining a quality level of care. Happier patients, and increased revenue? Who could ask for better.
Here are some of the most common conditions that Dr. Kaufmann of the Kaufmann Clinic, one of the primary care practices that uses ExamMed’s technology, treats virtually through telemedicine:
- Cough/Sore Throat: Many patients see the provider for a sore throat unknowing if it’s strep throat, allergies or a cold. A virtual appointment can determine if in-person testing and/or antibiotic treatment is needed.
- Urinary Symptoms: Urinary infections are extremely common. Although a less common condition for men, according to the National Institute of Health, 50 percent to 60 percent of women will experience a UTI in their lifetime. Urinary infections can easily be managed virtually, including diagnoses and treatment.
- Follow-up Appointments: Many follow-up appointments do not require a physical examination. Rather than taking the time to travel to a doctor’s appointment to discuss a new medication, patients can talk with their doctor virtually.
- Pink Eye: A highly contagious infection, pink eye is diagnosed in more than three million people each year. Rather than potentially exposing others to the germs, pink eye can be easily diagnosed, treated and reevaluated through virtual appointments.
While telemedicine is not the solution for all appointments, it is a great addition to couple traditional, in-person visits. Virtual care enhances a practice’s capabilities, improves patient outcomes and offers a convenient option. Blending telemedicine services into a medical practice is a strategic move that will benefit both patients and providers long-term.