Telehealth has become a part of many healthcare providers’ and patients’ lives. In fact, a recent survey reveals that 65% of patients in the US have used telehealth at some point in the past two years. 34% expect to continue to do so.
But while telehealth is on the rise, there are a lot of improvements to be made. Here are some telehealth-related New Year’s resolutions that healthcare providers should consider making:
1. Offer telehealth options.
Let’s start with an essential resolution. Although telehealth has become increasingly common, not all healthcare providers offer it.
But telehealth options are more and more important for patients - even an expectation for many of them. For instance, in the survey I previously quoted, 18% of respondents said they aren’t interested in working with healthcare providers who don’t offer telehealth consultations.
2. Master online messaging.
In addition to remote consultations, patients also want to use other means of digital communication, including online messaging, to communicate with healthcare providers.
This isn’t something that only interests a small minority of patients. An impressive 43% of respondents to the survey not only want remote consultations, but the ability to reach out to healthcare providers before and after online appointments.
29% have communicated with healthcare providers outside office hours via messaging systems, and 11% of respondents said that they consider being able to reach a healthcare provider in multiple ways, including appointments, text messages, email, and phone calls, a priority.
3. Take advantage of translation, interpreting, and transcreation.
Despite the fact that about 9% of the US population has limited English proficiency, very few telehealth platforms are multilingual. This could be the year to change that!
As we’ve covered before, there are two main ways to do this. One would involve translating a telehealth platform and resources into (an)other language(s). Actually, “transcreating” is the better word, since culture would certainly have to be taken into account, especially when it comes to things like informing about diagnoses and treatment.
The second option would be to have on-call medical interpreters who could work with patients whenever necessary. Fortunately, this service is already available to healthcare providers (aiaTranslations is one of the leaders in the industry).
Ideally, both options should be used: transcreation for a healthcare provider’s website and materials, and interpreting for virtual appointments and other communications.
4. Use telehealth in innovative ways.
Some healthcare providers may see remote consultations as less helpful than in-person ones, for a variety of reasons. But as a recent paper points out, online appointments can be helpful in ways that in-person ones may not.
For instance, during a video appointment, patients could show healthcare providers helpful details about their home environment, including how they organize their medications, how they’re using and storing medical devices, and how their home is set up to accommodate their condition.
Another advantage to remote appointments is that an entire medical team may be able to take part, even if everyone is located in different, distant places.
Video appointments might also allow for more connection, something that can impact patient health. Healthcare providers could use situations they might initially consider distracting or detracting from the medical aspect of the appointment as a way to show empathy and a more human side. For instance, if a pet or child makes an unexpected appearance, the healthcare provider could take it lightly and make small talk (“What a cute dog! I have one, too!”, etc.).
Although there’s room for improvement, telehealth has become an amazing and, for many patients, essential, resource. Let’s hope that 2022 sees it grow and evolve even farther.
Happy New Year to you and yours, from all of us at aiaTranslations!