2 Compelling ways to enhance telemedicine at your practice
Find out how incorporating virtual care services can not only enhance your client experience but also save your veterinary team a lot of time.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a surge of technological innovations, thus making the need for virtual services even more important. Paired with the relaxation of governmental regulations and the pandemic restrictions on face-to-face interactions, telemedicine utilization significantly increased from a few visits per week, to well over a million now.
While veterinary telemedicine is not a replacement for regular in-practice visits (and most veterinarians on telemedicine services can’t prescribe or diagnose medications to new patients), this new care delivery method can certainly help veterinarians provide pet owners with insightful advice and can save time spent on seeking non-emergency care.
Industry experts are of the opinion that telemedicine will become an integral part of veterinary care delivery long after the pandemic is over. Ergo, now is the optimal time for veterinary practices to expand their services to include telemedicine. Here’s how.
1. Integrate technology to streamline client experience
Rapid innovation throughout healthcare fields is playing a vital role in ensuring telemedicine is leveraged to its optimal potential. The field of veterinary medicine isn't lagging far behind either. Forward-thinking veterinarians are exploring ways they can augment their clients’ experience on telemedicine platforms. This is 1 factor that will hugely contribute to deciding who gets to survive and keep their virtual platform equally active even after COVID-19 subsides.
Some of the most utilitarian and advanced telemedicine solutions veterinarians can integrate into their practices include:
- Mobile apps: In the increasingly mobile world we currently live in, any healthcare practitioner that doesn’t have a mobile app at their disposal is likely to lose a lot of its potential clients to competitors. Veterinarians are no exception!
- A telemedicine application can give your clients a greater sense of engagement. This is especially true since they can easily reach out to you for help at any point in time with videos, photos, or text messages describing the affected area on their pet’s body or newly acquired symptoms.
- A mobile app can also help you send out important updates to the pet parents through push notifications. You can use this feature to remind them of an upcoming appointment or even the medication you’ve prescribed.
- Wearables and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): Pet wearables, when used in conjunction with Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) technology, can help expand a veterinarian’s reach beyond the four walls of their practice by enabling them to observe the impact of their treatment recommendations in real-time.
- When integrated with a telemedicine platform, these solutions can continually furnish a source of objective insights into the pet’s condition, which can be extremely beneficial if the pet is suffering from a chronic disease. These insights can greatly help vets improve outcomes while building strong relationships with their patients.
- Cloud-based software: The goal of integrating cloud software with telemedicine in veterinary medicine is to leave vets with more time to focus on pet care, which in turn, can improve outcomes for the animals.
- Cloud solutions let you pay for the resources you need when you need them while letting you scale up as and when your practice expands. They also provide optimal cybersecurity and always keep your data compliant.
Apart from the 3 solutions, there are a lot of other ways in which veterinarians can use technology to streamline patient experience. This will keep pet owners coming back to you and indirectly contribute toward increasing the bottom line of your practice.
2. Build a robust social media presence to expand your reach
If you’re looking for ways to target practice growth with telemedicine and expand your practice’s reach and engagement, then a good first step to take is to market your clinic on social media channels.
Currently, the US has one of the highest social network penetration rates in the world. In 2020, over 223 million Americans were using social networks. With that in mind, imagine how many new prospective clients you can reach simply by making yourself available on these channels?
So, how exactly can you get started? It’s simple. Just follow these steps:
- Take time to analyze your existing online presence (eg, website, public forums). Once that is done, observe it from the viewpoint of a client and try comprehending what initially brings them to you and what would encourage them to continue returning.
- Potential clients also make swift decisions based on interactions; therefore, develop your social media pages to be conversational, ones that promote discussions and feedback.
- Do you know what exactly pet owners do online? Typically, owners spend time on the Internet gaining education, shopping for their pets, looking for answers, and interacting with other pet owners, to name a few. So, spend some time looking at competitor websites. Then use your “first impression” instinct to build your list of what to include within your telemedicine platform and what not to.
- Put information about visits/follow-up care on your telemedicine app/website, which allows clients to review it either before their visit or afterward. New client/pet forms can also be added to help expedite the first visit and familiarize new clients with your telemedicine platform.
- Including content marketing within your social media growth strategy is another excellent way of yielding promised results when it comes to getting exposure.
CurveBreak, a leading Content Marketing Agency based out of North Carolina, insightfully mentioned the following in an article regarding human healthcare marketing:
“A healthy content marketing strategy needs to keep the patients in focus. Don’t overlook the human element. The content you create needs to keep the needs of the patients in mind and offer significant value instead of being too self-promotional.”
For veterinarians, this would mean that they can have something as simple as a ‘Question and Answer’ or ‘Blog’ section within the telemedicine app/website itself that addresses the most common questions and concerns. Be sure to also share all these content pieces on your social media channels regularly.
The content you present within these pieces, when formulated well, can help attract prospective clients through search engines and your social media channels.
Every practice is different and unique. Therefore, what works for one, might not work equally work well for another. Having said that, the techniques mentioned within this piece certainly are among the few best practices that have universally depicted their potential and yielded timely results for many.
As a forward-thinking veterinary leader, you constantly need to be on the lookout for ways you can integrate state-of-the-art tech innovations within your practice to make the client experience as seamless as possible, while also focusing on your growth and expansion in doing so. Remember, it may seem like a lot of work right now, but once you’ve established yourself, the results are going to be equally rewarding.
Samantha Vitale, DVM, MS, is residency trained in neurology and cofounder of Cloud Animal Health, an online marketplace where primary care veterinarians can connect with specialists that offer virtual consults and other custom services.