Telehealth is quickly becoming a prominent option in the healthcare space. From 2014 to 2019, telehealth use went up over 30 percent in inpatient settings, but 90 percent of inpatient and outpatient providers are investing in telehealth in the next 18 months.
As practices begin to adopt more telehealth techniques, they are able to provide their patients with more varied and personalized care. Urgent care centers, especially, are uniquely positioned to leverage telemedicine and improve the quality of care and health outcomes for their patients.
Serve Rural Communities More Effectively
Perhaps one of the most well-known benefits of telehealth is that practices that use it can provide better care to patients in rural areas. From remote patient monitoring to video-based visits that don’t require the patient to travel long distances, telehealth can help providers meet their patients where they are.
Doctors can easily check up on patients, especially those with a chronic condition, by using telehealth services. Often, rural patients who visit an urgent care facility are unable to return for a follow-up due to factors like transportation, childcare and time off work. They might not be able to see their primary care physician for the same reasons. Telehealth eliminates these concerns.
Of course, patients in urban areas may also have limited access to care. Virtual visits benefit these individuals, too. By providing telehealth services, your urgent care can follow up with patients remotely, ensuring that they are adhering to their care plan and improving.
Consistency & Loyalty
Not everyone has a primary care provider. A Kaiser study from 2014-2016 reported that, on average, 17 percent of women and 28 percent of men in the United States didn’t use a primary care provider. Furthermore, urgent care clinics handle about 89 million patient visits each year.
Connecting with these patients is key. When you offer telehealth services, you help healthcare consumers get to know you more easily. They will receive follow up messages and potentially even electronic-health visits with you, and their loyalty to your urgent care center will likely increase.
Patients want convenient care, and for many people telehealth is the gold standard in convenience. For some people that just means being able to schedule appointments online, rather than having to call into the office. For others, videoconferencing visits make the biggest difference in their perception of convenient healthcare. When a patient has consistent interactions with a particular healthcare provider, they can see more improvements in their health outcomes.
Making a trip to an urgent care can become quite costly, especially for people who might have to travel a long way. Sometimes the nearest urgent care doesn’t fall under a particular insurance plan, or patients might have to have extra tests done while at the office. Because of this, some people might avoid visiting the doctor — even if they need to go.
Telehealth can be a cheaper option for patients. As a result, they are more likely to actually seek medical care when they need it. Whether they just have a quick question because something seems off, or if a doctor needs to perform a full follow-up visit for a particular condition, patients can more easily access their care with telehealth.
Telehealth & Psychographic Segmentation
Though most patients have a favorable view of telemedicine, some are more inclined to use the service than others. Psychographic segmentation can help you identify these individuals, so you can better market your telehealth offerings to those who visit your urgent care.
The psychographic segmentation model classifies healthcare consumers into one of five groups based on their values, personalities and preferences. In turn, providers learn what patients expect from their healthcare experiences and can develop more effective communication strategies. Psychographic segmentation can also tell you which patients are more likely to take advantage of telehealth and which patients would prefer an in-person visit.
For example, the 2018 PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, a nationally-representative study on healthcare consumers in the U.S., found that seven percent of Self Achievers and eight percent of Willful Endurers reported using telehealth for live medical consultations over a mobile phone or the internet in the past 12 months. Four percent of Balance Seekers said they would do the same.
Knowing how to communicate with these segments is critical for improved health outcomes and the success of telehealth. PatientBond has seen a 10x increase in patient portal sign-ups using tailored communication based on a person’s psychographic segmentation. Whether you’re looking to encourage patients to participate in important screenings or follow the care plan you give them, sending them the right message via the right channel is imperative.
Telehealth is a great way to increase access to urgent care, especially for patients in rural communities. It’s cheaper and more convenient, meaning busy patients, or those who are more likely to postpone care for financial reasons, have a better chance of seeking healthcare. By offering consistency in your patients’ care, you can improve patient health outcomes over time.
For more on psychographic segmentation and how you can use it to improve health outcomes at your practice, download our case study.