Telemedicine is one of the newest trends in personalized medical care, here in the Research Triangle and also around the world. And it’s a trend that’s here to stay. Simply stated, telemedicine is a medical practice where a person has 24-hour telephone and video call access to a physician, nurse or specialist. For a low monthly fee, patients can call a doctor at any time for medical screenings:
- Developing skin rash? Snap a pic and send it to a dermatologist.
- Newborn baby running a fever of 100.8? Call your pediatric nurse practitioner.
- Chest discomfort in the middle of the night? Get a cardiologist online… stat.
Telemedicine is a fast-growing industry, and many physicians are opting to form small practices (or join developing ones) devoted to the practice. Some might argue that telemedicine is comparable to the HMO explosion of the 1990s, when enrollment in HMOs went from 3 million to over 80 million by the end of the decade.
Today, the race is on between physicians (and companies) to revolutionize the way medicine is practiced.
This is no Theranos.
The Stage Is Set…
Those with an eye toward the future and smart branding will set the agenda. It’s happening now, as patients take their own blood-pressure, heart rate and weight measurements while video conferencing with their doctor from home. Telemedical professional can also provide consultations and review of treatments.
But the medical industry is notoriously slow to adopt new methods. With an aging population of Baby Boomers, the telemedical industry can survive the short term by focusing on geriatric patients. With them, the challenge will be adoption… Most of us can attest to the fact that our parents and grandparents are not so tech savvy. Millennials and Gen Xers are the opposite. And thus a strategic plan becomes clear: Capture the Baby Boomers… the Gen Xers and Millennials… or all of them.
What Medical Services Can Be Teleserviced?
Teledermatology: Dermatology is treatment of the skin. Using teleservices, a patient can forward a photo of a mole, rash, lesion or other skin issue. This first step saves both time and money, allowing the patient to bypass an initial visit. (A similar area would be ophthalmology where a photo might be taken to conduct an initial eye examination for possible infections)
Teleoncology: Consulting an oncologist is always difficult, but with teleoncology a patient could have direct access to an expert in a field to address initial screenings, questions or concerns during photo sharing and video calls.
Teleobstetrics: For example, with the right equipment, a physician may be able to hear either a recording or live sound of a baby’s heartbeat right at home or prescribe prenatal vitamins or supplements.
Teletherapy or rehab: A physical therapist can demonstrate proper technique via video consultation. This could save time from going into the office and scheduling a follow-up appointment.
Telepsychiatry: This rapidly growing area encompasses mental health services like general evaluations, therapy (family, group or individual, patient education and medicine management. And patients needing to speak with someone directly would be able to do so via telemedicine.
Other Consultation And Treatment Available Via Telemedicine
- Colds and flu
- Respiratory and sinus infections
- Insect bites
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Pharyngitis/sore throat
- Sprained muscles
- Sports injuries
- Small wounds
- Heart palpitations (and other issues)
- High blood pressure
Why Telemedicine Branding Is Important
Any physician building—or wishing to maintain—a practice may want to consider offering telemedical options. But protecting that brand is vital to future success. In fact, offering telemedical services is not something to take lightly… Because the moment you fail to respond in a timely fashion to a patient’s call is the moment you may lose that patient forever. But if you are ready to do so, having the right social media platforms, questionnaires, content and communication systems can result in success.
Brand Loyalty Starts Early… And Now It Travels
The sooner you capture a customer, the better the opportunity for a lifelong relationship. Patients like seeing their own personal doctor. Traditionally, doctors saw generations of patients within the same family. However, if a patient or their family moved away they would have to seek a new local doctor. Telemedicine offers the chance for patients to relocate and travel with the comfort of knowing their doctor will be just a phone call away. The prevailing wisdom favors those telemedical professionals that capture early market share or are able to take market share from existing providers. But having a strategic smart branding plan moving forward is key.
Who Are Your Customers?
Every patient has different needs, desires and expectations of their physician. A Baby Boomer may sacrifice time in a waiting room in order to see a doctor they find trustworthy. However, a Millennial may favor telemedicine’s ease of appointment-making and availability. Smart branding a telemedical business will ensure that the message you create is intended for the audience you seek to connect with—now and in the future.
where ideas take flight