• Technology vs Real Life

    Technology is such an integral part of the 21st century that any business without some level of technical savviness will be likely to not last long – especially one in the medical industry.  

    But there’s something to be said about traditional communication methods as well. Humans, by nature, are social beings so to connect with others is just as important as the essentials that are food, water and shelter. 

    You can absolutely find the perfect balance between technology and traditional connections, especially when it comes to appeasing every type of patient – from the young millennial who does everything via smartphone to the baby boomer who enjoys a good chin wag when coming in for their appointment.  

    Here are the pros and cons to online vs telephone bookings, and Telehealth vs face-to-face consultations.  

    Online Bookings 

    Pros 

    At its most basic level, technology allows you and your staff to be more productive and efficient, and this is what online booking systems are for. It’s also worth remembering that whatever system you provide to your patients, other medical clinics in your vicinity use technology, so you need to as well – if anything to attract a broader range of patient.  

    Certainly one of the pros to an online booking system is the convenience and ease, with your clients seeing that doing things via their phones and tablets makes life easier for them.  

    Another positive to come out of online booking systems is the time it saves for both sides of the party and how efficient it all is. Not only do your patients save time by not having to be put on hold and listen to elevator music while tending to their children, but so do your staff who already have a multitude of projects to finish.  

    Cons 

    With technology however comes unpredictability, and that’s where some of the cons come in. As advanced as the systems are these days, there’s something about online booking systems that are so impersonal, eliminating the initial interaction between your medical clinic and the patient – it would otherwise be a stellar opportunity to connect with them, wouldn’t it?! They’re unable to ask any questions and there’s virtually no human contact. 

    It can also prove to be a bit difficult for some clients – not everyone is tech savvy, and there’s potential you could lose them in the process. However, you can get over this by always offering other ways to schedule an appointment so keep multiple options available to prevent frustration.  

    I won’t go into the details of poor internet access, because we’ve all been there before with the whole ‘well, have you turned it off and then on again?’ scenario. But yes, that’s another hinderance to the whole online booking system too, as well as the potential to privacy and data breeches and the fact you’re paying a fee dependent on what system you’re using. 

    Telephone Bookings 

    Pros  

    While email and instant messaging are being used in virtually every other aspect in life, telephoning someone requires taking time out of your day to stop and make the call – this can be both a positive and a negative, but I love seeing this in its most affirmative light. Why? Because it shows more care, and demonstrates better customer service.  

    But let’s focus on the patient calling the practice in this instance. Phone bookings are still real-time communication with instant responses, and in most cases it’s the first contact a client has with the clinic. They have the opportunity to ask questions about their course of treatment and can be offered non-medical advice directly by your staff.  

    Cons 

    Where could telephone bookings possibly go wrong, you ask? It sounds like the most fool-proof way of arranging appointments, right? Well, it does fall short in a couple areas, including spending more minutes within a real-time conversation when you’ve multiple things to do, and of course the trouble of sometimes not being able to hear the patient clearly on the other end, whether they move out of range, there’s background noise or the client is unable to articulate their message through poor speech.  

    There’s also the hassle of long waiting times and the prospect that phone calls disrupt workflow for both sides, which can lower productivity in the long run.  

    Telehealth Consultations 

    Pros 

    One of the best technological things to come out of the COVID-19 crisis within medical practices was the improvement in the Telehealth service. There are so many pros to this during difficult times, including the ability to expand access to care and reaching more patients. As a medical clinic, Telehealth appointments can help stretch provider networks and get in touch with patients who are not only unable to get to our practices, but those who live in rural and remote areas.  

    As well as reducing the risk of contamination and saving space in waiting rooms, another amazing benefit to patients is that it cuts their costs. Think about it – with a Telehealth visit, your client gets rid of the cost and time of travel, parking fees, childcare and taking time off work/home duties which adds to the level of stress.  

    In terms of overheads for your clinic, Telehealth appointments reduce patient no-shows too as the calls go direct to their mobile phones.  

    Cons 

    One of the biggest concerns amongst clients is the security of personal health data transmitted electronically, especially when it comes to paying following a consult.  

    Modern technology gives your patients and your doctors easy access to one another, however for some clients, no virtual appointment can ever replace face-to-face contact, and certain conditions can be impossible to diagnose without a physical examination.  

    Face-to-Face Consultations 

    Pros 

    In the end, nothing beats a face-to-face consultation between patient and doctor with the most important aspect being both feel more connected to one another. And let’s face it, when a client visits their GP’s medical clinic in person, they feel like they can talk about things other than just their physical well-being and fill their doctor in on things going on in their life.  

    What’s more, doctors can’t be expected to get the whole picture of a physical ailment without seeing it in person, so face-to-face examinations are the best for things like rashes or sores.  

    Another positive is less risk of miscommunication. Your GP, as well as all your clinic staff, can read a client’s body language, facial expressions, and hear their tone of voice properly.  

    Cons 

    There aren’t too many cons when it comes to the good old traditional face-to-face appointment, but there are still some. There’s the potential for aggressive and non-compliant patients, as well as the issue of some not being able to physically get into the clinic.  

    With COVID-19 happening all over the world, we also have to factor in social distancing etiquette and noise levels with regards to waiting rooms. 

     

    All in all, there is every opportunity for your medical clinic to balance modern technology with traditional doctor appointment practices. There are so many ways for patients to communicate with their GPs, and those various access points are important because it makes healthcare more flexible. I’d love to hear how your practice is coping with all these variances and what works best for you!  

      

    Share: