In this very special episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I hosted a panel discussion on telehealth and the digitization of medicine post-COVID-19. The panelists included Samantha Lippolis, Telehealth Advisor at Sam I am Innovates; Dr. Daniel Fagbuyi, CEO of Erudition; Dr. Brian Block, Health Care Consultant at Brian Block Consulting; Mindy Klowden, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council; and Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner, Decisions Expert at Split-Second Decisions. Among many, many other topics, we explored the use of telemedicine before, during, and after the pandemic, including the challenges that lie ahead and how to overcome the current barriers and provide high-quality virtual care to all patients who need it.
Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:
Q: What advice would you give to other physicians in terms of adoption of telemedicine, especially around building habits and setting up your day?
Dr. Daniel Fagbuyi: Yeah, I think, to Sam’s point, it’s really an education process. You have to have buy-in from the top. And that’s at the C-suite level in any healthcare system. It’s just the way things move. In addition, I do think we have to realize and take a step back and say, “practicing medicine, it’s an art.” It’s a privilege for us, and we do like to engage with our patients again. The intangibles that you just can’t pick up just by looking at them on a screen, and the technology doesn’t give us that 3D view of everything. In that tactile sense, some innate things that you learned as a physician or as the person who cares about people–doctor, nurse, allied healthcare providers–there’s that sixth sense that it’s an intangible. It’s immeasurable. You just had that gut feeling. I noticed that body language. I noticed the way you kind of respond to that intonation and the way you said a certain thing.
So we have to respect that and say that, yes, those are the things we’re going to miss out on. I think the acceptance of that is important. And to understand that it’s not the end; on to Brian’s point, this is just an opportunity for us to be able to get a little bit closer to our patients during times of when we can’t or when it’s not as convenient, but we have to really weigh the merits and demerits. And let’s talk about it. The whole point is that you are able to still generate revenue for the healthcare system or for the provider by engaging with your patient and not losing that patient panel that you’ve developed and still keeping that relationship on, that’s important.
For the patient, they want that satisfaction and being able to say, “I just wanted to talk to my doctor or I just need them.” They phone in this script, “I need them to send this off.” “I need a quick, rapid note that just says, hey, I can return to work or I cannot return to work.”
And then we have to look at the part where there are certain things, maybe somebody wants to do a detailed neurologic exam and they’re not able to do all that. There are certain things that you have to rethink, so it’s kind of a rethinking of how we approach the physical exam of a patient, and the patient encounter.
So I think those are the challenges going forward that we need to realize, and then the whole reimbursement thing. We have to look at it from the patient perspective and the provider perspective, where some patients were saying that they were taken advantage of, ” didn’t have to come to your office. I didn’t stay in any space, I didn’t get that personal touch, and yet you’re going to charge me the same amount that I would have paid when I could have been there in person.”
Then there’s the other side also that the doctor or nurse does take that time. It’s still that area of expertise. There’s a service being offered, and balancing that I think needs to also be discussed. Some people may feel a different way about it, but if we start to find that balance, I think we’ll be able to move forward with the new technology…
For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat on telemedicine and the digitization of healthcare post-COVID-19, or listen to the podcast version, below.
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