In this post, we’ll be debunking many of the common myths associated with offering tele-urology at your practice, and instead showing you once and for all why you should ‘jump on the bandwagon’ of this future-forward approach to medicine.
Before we dive in though, you’re probably thinking, “What even IS tele-urology?” Tele-urology is the blend of urology and telemedicine. Telemedicine, simply, is healthcare provided through technology such as smart phone, tablet or desktop. Think video conferencing with patients instead of meeting face-to-face, or sending lab results through a patient portal – all of these tasks are considered telemedicine.
Now, let’s debunk some offering tele-urology myths!
Myth: Telemedicine can’t be integrated in urology.
Fact: This is completely untrue. If you have a urology practice or are a provider that offers urology, you are in a specialty highly relevant for telemedicine since urology rarely has any true emergencies. In some cases, doctors can even assess an emergency using tele-urology.
Myth: When you offer tele-urology at your practice you can only really use it for consults.
Fact: Wrong again. Tele-urology can be used for a variety of patient treatment cases including disease diagnosis & management, pre- & post-operative visits, remote rounding, second opinions and in some cases remote surgery.
Myth: Offering tele-urology is only beneficial to practices in a highly connected, urban area.
Fact: This is a common tele-urology misunderstanding that is false. Although offering tele-urology in urban areas benefits patients so they save on commuting time and costs, studies show that tele-urology has been extremely beneficial to patients in rural areas as well. Providers with patients in rural areas not only save themselves travel times and costs to see these patients, but also increase patient engagement by instead using the time they would have spent during their commute to remotely meet with patients for a longer period of time. Longer appointment times mean more discussion around treatment plans, more opportunities for patient questions and more patient-to-provider interaction. In addition, VA hospitals that offer tele-urology benefit as they can see a higher volume of patients on a limited budget, and prisons with a tele-urology program can offer inmates care without meeting face-to-face.
Myth: Offering tele-urology will take the human connection out of my patient care.
Fact: The top complaint, besides an aversion to technology, is the thought of making patient care more sterile by having patients meet with their provider through electronic devices. In a world where 71% of us sleep with our smartphone either in bed or next to us, and over 50% of us reach for our smartphone after immediately waking up, it seems like we can’t do anything without our smart devices. However, for providers who offer tele-urology, they have found that patient satisfaction is often rated as either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ for remote-based appointments, and patients who had a face-to-face visit would prefer a remote-based appointment for future care. Although there are a variety of factors that go into any patient’s experience, the simple fact that offering tele-urology takes out travel time and costs from commuting means you have more time to sit and talk to your patients about their care. And there’s no surprise that taking out commuting time from the overall experience means less stress for both you and your patient, resulting in a clear mental state and more pleasant experience walking into the appointment.
Myth: Offering tele-urology at my practice will require a high start-up cost.
Fact: False. Dependent upon how you want to use tele-urology within your practice it can cost as much or as little as you would like. Meeting with patients can be done with your smart phone, tablet or desktop by video conferencing through an Apple or Android-based device, or using a webcam for a desktop computer. Webcams are relatively inexpensive costing (approximately) $100 and up. Likewise, there are a variety of video conferencing software tools out there (free and subscription-based) that you can use, again, dependent upon how you will offer tele-urology in your office.
As you can see, offering tele-urology is not only highly beneficial to the workflow of your office, but has multiple benefits for your patients as well. And features that patients can utilize to their benefit, such as a patient portal like AnywhereCare, have a strong impact on their overall experience even outside of the office.
If you have more questions on offering tele-urology at your practice, or how iSalus can help increase efficiency at your practice, feel free to contact our team and we can discuss options available to you.