3 Ways to Add Empathy to Telemedicine
Telemedicine has seen tremendous growth over the years. Since 2015, physician telehealth use is up 340 percent from 5 percent in 2015 to 22 percent today. Already, the telemedicine industry is valued at $38.3 billion and Global Market Insights projects it will reach $130.5 billion by 2025. To put this into perspective, the growth of telemedicine is faster than urgent care centers and retail clinics, which have also seen substantial growth in recent years.
The convenience of telemedicine is hard to beat, but it has its drawbacks if it isn’t executed well. Most recently, this was apparent when a hospital used a video call to tell a patient that they were dying. It was a powerful reminder that especially through telemedicine, every patient interaction needs to be thoughtfully executed. This can be difficult when health centers have a lot on their plate, but here are three simple ways on how to show empathy to patients through telemedicine.
Before and during the appointment, ask questions. Let your patients guide the conversation about their health issue, and then respond. They want to be heard, so when you give them the time to share, they feel respected. You also save time by getting everything out in the open. The last thing you want is for that patient to be readmitted for the same health issue because everything wasn’t addressed. By covering everything upfront, it shows your patients you care.
PatientBond allows you to send communications automatically through email, interactive voice response, text message, print and more. That means you can follow-up with patients after their appointments with little work on your end, as PatientBond is a fully managed and automated service. It allows your team to save precious staff hours to make room for more patients, saving you money and generating additional revenue. Plus, patients don’t feel forgotten and instead feel better knowing that you’re still thinking of them. With PatientBond, you can take those communications a step further to personalize the follow-up response through psychographic segmentation.
Personalize Communication with Psychographic Segmentation
Psychographic segmentation has been used for decades in the consumer products and retail industries, but it’s relatively new to healthcare. The study of psychographics involves looking at consumers’ values, attitudes, personalities and lifestyles and understanding their unique motivations. PatientBond breaks this down into five psychographic segments ranging from proactive to reactive on their health.
In a 2018 PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic, it found that Self Achievers, the most proactive of the segments, and Willful Endurers, the most reactive of the segments, are statistically more likely than any other psychographic segment to use telehealth to manage their health in the last 12 months. This is important because these segments are on opposite ends of the psychographics spectrum. If you want to appeal to both of these audiences, it needs to be done based on their preferences.
Self Achievers are goal-oriented when it comes to their health while Willful Endurers prefer to live in the moment and focus on other things before their health. For example, if you want to encourage a Self Achiever to get an annual check-up, you’d say, “Stay on top of your health by getting an annual check-up.” For a Willful Endurer, you might say “Signing up for your annual check-up today is a quick and easy way to avoid the hassles of health issues.” By appealing to their psychographics, you’ll have much more patients schedule that appointment.
It’s also important to consider the communication channels they prefer. Self Achievers are statistically more likely than Willful Endurers to prefer a live phone call or an email, but not all patients within these segments are exactly the same. Psychographic segmentation gives you the ability to appeal to the needs and preferences of most members of a segment, but there are always outliers. Over time, PatientBond’s system learns each patient’s preferences so that if the first communication channel you try doesn’t appeal to them, the system tweaks it so that it finds one they prefer.
By engaging your patient using psychographics in every way possible (including word choice in your messaging), you’ll have loyal patients that don’t feel as if telehealth is any different than going in for an appointment. If anything, they will be more inclined to continue to use telehealth in the future.
Your patients don’t have to feel like they aren’t just another number behind a computer screen or mobile device. Telehealth is simply another way to interact with them that’s more convenient for you and your patient. The little amount of effort it takes to make it more human will result in happier and more committed patients.
For more information on how to foster loyalty among your patients, check out our case study.