I heard an interesting story this week on National Public Radio about the ways North Carolina is dealing with an alarming lack of available psychiatrists for patients in rural areas. This comes at a time where ER visits for mental health reasons are increasing. North Carolina has responded by increasing the use of telehealth technology, namely videoconferencing, for psychiatric patient consultations in areas without psychiatrists, and finding that the program is working well. While the details of this story are a little outside our Hello Health wheelhouse, I was still happy to hear that video visits are being so widely appreciated for their many benefits.
Sy Sayeed, M.D., chair of Psychiatry at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, is a proponent of telemedicine used for patient evaluation. “The patient encounter is very much like being face-to-face with a patient; the only difference being that it’s being transmitted via teleconference,” Sayeed says in the interview. “The interesting thing is, when you ask patients about this experience, most of them will tell you that after a few minutes, they forget that they’re talking to the doctor via this monitor.”
We passionately follow these telehealth stories because Hello Health was the first electronic health record system to leverage telemedicine to enhance patient engagement. There are still no other vendors on the market that offer our level of functionality. It’s a big selling point of our platform, and we’re very proud of it, not only because it allows our customers more options when engaging with their patients, but because our physicians can generate additional revenue engaging with their patients in ways that are meaningful to them. Hello Health’s portal takes telemedicine to a new level, with robust video chat capabilities that give patients the convenience and secure access they want, while allowing doctors to seamlessly document telehealth consultations in their charts and bill for them right from the platform.
In the radio story, Sayeed mentions a recent study by the North Carolina Center for Public Policy indicating that patients are more than satisfied to see their doctors in a teleconference visit. Some, in fact, prefer it! The study also notes patients’ concerns about privacy, worries that can be soothed when a physician’s EHR is fully secure, as Hello Health’s is.
When asked if he considered a teleconference a good way to manage a relationship with a patient with whom he needed to check in frequently, Sayeed notes that he has found it to be not much different from speaking face-to-face with a patient. “Once I have been involved with
this visit after a few seconds, I will even forget about the fact that it's coming via [video conference],” he says.
That’s what those of us who are shaping and pushing this trend like to hear! At Hello Health, it’s crucial to us that our technology enhances and improves physician/patient relationships and increases patient engagement. I hope you’ve seen our e-book, The Modern-Day House Call: Case Studies in Telemedicine. It illustrates how a few Hello Health customers are using this cutting-edge technology.
Barry Holleman is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Myca Health, the parent company of Hello Health, Inc.