With the many risks involved in seeing patients as a physician practising during a pandemic, many have turned to or are now exploring the idea of virtual care. It’s the topic of our latest blog series, and this article is about deciding what type of care you may want to integrate into your practice.
You may think virtual care in today’s health landscape means your office texting or messaging with a patient to tackle simple tasks like prescription refills. Or maybe you imagine it as a meeting with a patient in real time over an electronic device, be it audio only (telephone) or both audio and video.
In fact, it can be both.
Asynchronous and synchronous care are two ways to bring virtual practice into your daily medical practice. The former is easily fit into a schedule with both physicians and staff members able to relay some of the messages through email or text – although you must keep in mind that conventional email is not secure enough for these kinds of exchanges. The latter is in real time as a set appointment, but over something like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom – again, with proper privacy measures in place.
Either one, or perhaps both, can simplify the way you work both during the current conditions of the global pandemic and beyond the age of COVID-19.
Both of these methods of virtual care demand particular planning, depending heavily on the types of health problems you typically evaluate and treat in your practice. Scheduling might seem simple, but it will take a well-trained and organized staff to ensure bookings are made well in advance and strictly followed to in order to seamlessly mesh in-person visits with the virtual versions.
Given how valuable your time is – which is why you subscribe to time-saving services like outsourced medical transcription – you’ll want to strike a good balance at your practice when dealing with a wide range of health issues and and same-day booking attempts. It’s not as complicated for a mental-health practice, for example, which could make many visits virtual. And you can mix in-person visits with virtual care. Alternate in-person visits with virtual visits to reduce the number of patients in the waiting room and to give staff time to do exam room cleaning between patients.
If you’re a physician who is already comfortable with the world of technology and uses a physician transcription service such as a secure online medical transcription company as part of your practice, you’re probably ready to introduce virtual care – if you haven’t already started using it already. If you have, there are some recommended consent best practices recommended by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). You can add a web page to your own website or direct patients to another source that contains a clear explanation of the risks and limitations of virtual visits, as well as the obvious benefits.
Ideally, getting written and enduring consent from a patient for their medical record is preferable in the cases of physicians offering primary or chronic disease care. Gaining – and documenting – verbal consent before starting virtual sessions or one-time visits is an easy option as well.
You can find many examples for your practice in the CMA’s Virtual Care Playbook released at the onset of the pandemic.
When it comes to written electronic communications, the Canadian Medical Protection Association has a great form you can download, covering audio, video and messaging platforms for virtual care.
Keep an eye out for Part 2, which will dive into the technical side of virtual health.
2Ascribe Inc. is a medical transcription services agency located in Toronto, Ontario Canada, providing medical transcription services to physicians, clinics and other healthcare providers across Canada. Our medical transcriptionists take pride in the quality of your transcribed documents. WEBscribe is our client interface portal for document management. 2Ascribe continues to implement and develop technology to assist and improve the transcription process for physicians and other healthcare providers, and recently introduced AUTOfax. AUTOfax works within WEBscribe to automatically send faxes to referring physicians when a document is signed off by the healthcare professional. As a service to our clients and the healthcare industry, 2Ascribe offers articles of interest to physicians and other healthcare professionals, medical transcriptionists and office staff, as well as of general interest. Additional articles may be found at http://www.2ascribe.com.