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Resource Tips for Trying Times: Demystify Virtual Care [Healthcare Series]

Our primary hope in this series is to better equip and empower healthcare professionals for their important work— helping deliver health and peace of mind to the public. 

TIP: Take steps to fully communicate virtual care options

Even before COVID-19 upended healthcare systems, virtual care was growing. The telemedicine market was expected to grow at more than 15% annually through 2025, and two-thirds of consumers were interested in telehealth — with 20% saying they were willing to switch PCPs if another nearby offered telehealth visits. Now, interest from both physicians and consumers has exploded well beyond those figures.

However, as health systems scramble to implement virtual care solutions, users often can’t find or don’t understand their options. To help consumers navigate virtual care, organizations should:

Define virtual care

  • What it is: In a March 2020 study, only 58% of consumers had heard of virtual care. You can’t just list processes and costs for virtual care. You also must explain what it is.
  • Different types of virtual care: Even among those who know virtual care, many are confused about types available (e-visits, on-demand video visits, scheduled video visits) and who provides virtual care (health systems, payers, etc.) Clarify differences between options and which are available to users.
  • What the value proposition is beyond short-term needs: Many consumers now turning to virtual care are doing so out of a feeling of need but see it as a lower-value option. Make sure users understand the high-quality care virtual visits provide.
  • State-level context where appropriate: Make sure potential users understand recent changes in state-specific rules that may impact their use of virtual care.

Promote virtual care

  • Feature virtual care across your website, including Find-a-Doctor: A virtual care landing page or sign-up page alone isn’t enough. Take stock of all possible pages potential consumers of virtual care might visit, and add messaging there. It may even benefit you to complete an audit of your virtual care pages from the perspective of a potential user to see where the roadblocks and opportunities for improvement are.
  • Create email campaigns around virtual care: Consider an all-user email to current users, and build virtual care messaging into existing email lists.
  • Incorporate virtual care into ad copy and social: Make sure users searching for available providers and care options see ads for virtual care options too. Create social posts that describe virtual care.

For virtual care providers, create great virtual care experiences

  • Use the same processes for virtual as in-person care: Provide the same types of processes and messaging, such as appointment reminders and follow-up emails.
  • Have a process to switch users from virtual to in-person care when needed: Even with appropriate messaging and triage, sometimes users will choose an option that isn’t the right choice. Make sure to have mechanisms in place to quickly reschedule inappropriate virtual visits into in-person visits with an available provider when needed.

Customer service becomes even more important in virtual delivery systems. Thank you for the outstanding service you’re providing to your consumers. We are happy to explore any of these tips in further detail with you.

Are there any top-of-mind technology-related topics you’d like for us to provide insight on in an upcoming post? Please let us know.

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Linda Watts

Linda is a healthcare digital strategy leader with 20 years of progressive experience in guiding diverse health system teams to develop and execute digital experiences and infrastructures. She is passionate about improving healthcare consumer experience, while also ensuring business ROI, to help health systems expand on their broader missions to improve their communities' health and well-being.

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