Giving clients access to you at their convenience offers a plethora of benefits for your patients, your clients, and your practice.
Eighteen months ago, I was introduced to a smartphone app that helps me build better client relationships, supports my patients’ health more effectively, and increases revenue for my practice. What kind of app was it? A telemedicine app.
As the chief of staff at 2 practices, I know firsthand that being accessible to clients at all hours to answer questions is one of the quickest ways to convert customers into enthusiastic advocates for the practice.
I initially became motivated to investigate telemedicine apps when I realized I was already practicing telemedicine on a routine basis. Any time I answered a text, a Facebook message, or a phone call from a client about their pet, I was practicing telemedicine.
Telemedicine is an overarching term that refers to all technology used to deliver health information or education remotely. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), telemedicine is exchanging medical information regarding a patient’s clinical health status from one site to another via electronic communications.
Improved technology now gives us the ability to practice telemedicine in much more effective ways because the app provides upfront guidelines, ensures confidentiality, and is compliant with state regulations. It also allows veterinarians to give clients access at the clinician's discretion, which fosters a better work-life balance.
I’ve found that people want to be able to communicate with their health care professionals using the same technology they use to communicate with everyone else in their lives: their smartphones.
Offering clients more access to your practice, even if only to ask the simplest questions, can ease their anxiety and improve your relationship.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, implementing telemedicine in my practice has given me more free time. Surgery follow-ups, check-ins, and even writing prescriptions can be done via an app, allowing me to keep my clinic schedule open for patients that need to be seen on-site.
Telemedicine has also helped grow revenue. Once I let my clients with a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) know that I can diagnose and prescribe through the app, they take to it quickly. Now, I do telemedicine consultations almost every day—and get paid for them.
Dozens of available apps offer a variety of telemedicine services. Based on my experience, the app you choose should incorporate these 4 key characteristics:
Additional considerations come into play as well. Your telemedicine app should:
Dr. Smiley is chief of staff at 2 veterinary practices in Indiana. He presented on the topic of telemedicine at the 2018 Veterinary Innovation Summit in College Station, Texas, and the Indiana Veterinary Medicine Association annual meeting, where he was named 2018 INVMA president. Dr. Smiley uses the Medici telemedicine app.