Telemedicine is more than a buzzword used by tech-savvy healthcare providers—it’s a valuable tool that facilitates communication between consumers and health systems. For example, physicians and patients can participate in video chat-style appointments while nurses can capture images or videos for doctors to review later. As a result, telemedicine helps improve health outcomes in an efficient, technologically-forward manner.
These features have been duly noted. Transparency Market Research predicts that the telehealth market will reach $36.3 billion by 2020. Likewise, a recent survey found that over 96 percent of health systems plan to expand their virtual care offerings this year alone. While some healthcare consumers still prefer visiting their doctors in person, plenty of patients are interested in incorporating video or real-time chat to their care plan.
With this increasing demand, providers need to understand not only how telemedicine influences health outcomes but also how to encourage patients to utilize the service.
How Telemedicine Affects Health Outcomes
Skeptics of telemedicine often express concern about the quality of virtual care, but research suggests that virtual visits have improved health outcomes up to this point.
During a telehealth visit, patients and providers can focus on the patient’s issue without any distractions. Also, any time a patient with a contagious illness goes to the doctor, there’s a chance they will pass their condition to others. Telemedicine minimizes this risk.
When a patient receives a phone call regarding their test results, they may become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information. If that call happened via video chat, the provider could more easily explain the results by using visual aids, instead of just words. As a result, the patient better understands their situation and can more confidently follow their care plan.
Finally, going to the doctor can be a hectic ordeal, depending on a patient’s need for childcare, transportation and time off work. As a result, patients may be less likely to seek care or attend a follow-up if they can’t make it to the exam room. Telemedicine eliminates this concern with virtual visits. Healthcare providers can check on any new or worsening symptoms and ensure all treatments are working effectively, even without seeing the patient in their office.
How to Increase Telemedicine Adoption
With all these benefits, it’s hard to believe more patients aren’t taking advantage of telemedicine. 77 percent of healthcare consumers say they’re interested in the service, while only 19 percent report using it.
There are a few reasons for this disconnect. Many doctors still aren’t offering virtual care, and those who are aren’t effectively marketing the services.
If you provide telehealth services, make sure your patients know about it. Communicate with them in a way that appeals to their unique wants and needs, so they understand how the tool will benefit them individually.
Psychographic Segmentation & Telemedicine Adoption
Psychographic segmentation can help healthcare professionals get more patients to utilize telehealth services and improve health outcomes. This proprietary model branches off healthcare consumers into one of five groups based on their values, personalities and preferences. In turn, providers learn what their patients expect when it comes to healthcare and can develop more effective communication strategies.
According to the 2018 PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, a nationally-representative study on healthcare consumers in the U.S., 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. If you can identify what segments your patients belong to, then you can find out who is most interested in telemedicine.
You can also learn how to communicate with these groups. For instance, if you have a high percentage of Priority Jugglers, you know you need to market your telehealth services in a way that appeals to their busy lifestyle. By positioning virtual visits as a way to save them time, you can inspire this group to take action.
Telemedicine is a great way to improve health outcomes for your patients, even if they aren’t currently sold on the idea. By using psychographic segmentation to craft your messaging, you can help healthcare consumers understand how virtual care will benefit them and encourage them to use the service.
For more on psychographic segmentation as it applies to health outcomes, download our case study.