Best practice remote patient management

By Luke - Clinic Partnerships on 27th May, 2021

Learn more about the technologies ready to boost patient experience in your fertility clinic. 

We live in a world where patients and their providers are becoming more and more physically distanced, so clinics are turning to telemedicine and new technologies to continue to meet patients’ expectations. At Salve, we live and breathe remote patient management, so it was a pleasure to get together with The International IVF Initiative to share our thoughts and expertise. Charlie Kenny, our CEO and Co-founder led the conversation, and here are his key take-outs. 

You can also watch the full seminar here. 

Telemedicine in a nutshell

The World Health Organisation defines telemedicine as ‘the delivery of health care services, where patients and providers are separated by distance’. As a technology, it started earlier than you might think – with The Lancet medical journal publishing an article in 1879 calling for telephone consultations to reduce in-person clinic visits. Pretty impressive considering the telephone was only invented three years before! 

Luckily, due to the mass adoption of smartphones and investment in healthtech over the last decade, we had the basic telemedicine tools in place to keep our clinics up and running during the global pandemic. 

Covid-19 as a driver for change

As with most industries, the pandemic has shaken things up for healthcare and been the main driver for the adoption of telemedicine technologies in clinics. Pre-Covid, fertility was on a slow trajectory of digital transformation – inevitable in today’s world. But the pandemic has accelerated the pace of adoption and quickly reminded clinics that the sooner they transform their ways of working, the more they’ll prosper in future. 

That being said, this pace of adoption has caused issues for some clinics, with a lack of planning and integration time resulting in incomplete workflows and solutions that don’t properly talk to each other. This can leave clinic staff feeling burnt out from complicated workflows and patients missing the first-class face-to-face support they received pre-Covid. 

Tackling the ‘liquid expectations’ of Millennials and Generation Z

It’s said that 79% of Millennials spend at least three hours on their phone each day. According to the HFEA, those same Millennials make up 70% of patients currently treated in UK IVF clinics. In just a few years we’ll be treating Gen Z, who leave Millennials in the dust when it comes to phone usage – with 65% spending five hours a day or more on theirs. Yikes. 

The takeout? Our patients are super connected and have highly demanding needs when it comes to patient-facing technologies. They blur the lines between their expectations of one industry to another, meaning clinics are being pushed to move forward and invest in patient-facing technologies or fear being left behind. 

The digital patient journey

Covid-19 and the proliferation of tech has given clinics a great opportunity to re-think the delivery of treatment. Digital health tools can provide the answer to the top-quality service patients expect, as well as benefit clinics with the efficiencies they bring. 

Here’s how we’re helping clinics do just that. 

New technologies: the pros and cons

Introducing new technologies comes with a whole host of benefits, but if they’re not well implemented and managed they can lead to inefficiencies and digital exclusion. Along with some guidance, here’s a look at some of the technologies – having been introduced and managed properly – which are now helping our clinics reap the benefits of extra staff time, improved patient satisfaction, faster scaling and improved access.

  • Secure video calling

As the pandemic hit, many countries waived compliance regulation around video calls – but this will be re-introduced, so make sure your vendor is compliant. Healthcare-specific platforms offer functionality such as waiting rooms, annotations and are EMR-integrated, meaning a seamless, more efficient experience for everyone. 

  • Secure messaging

Patients like using chat functions and they’re a great way to reduce call volumes and make remote conversations more accessible – but clinics must be careful not to overburden their teams. Auto-triaged messages, auditable trails of communication, automated messaging and the introduction of AI-powered bots are all features that completely iron out this process. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to learn about each one – so please do get in touch for a more detailed breakdown. 

  • Customisable forms / eConsent

From a smooth onboarding experience to a seamless consenting process, forms are the backbone of patient data capture. More and more countries are beginning to allow informed consent to happen digitally, meaning patients can self-manage this process from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Plus, with these tools you can guide more patients through the IVF process, reduce errors as well as automate the time-intensive delivery and collection of physical forms and consents. 

  • Automated cryostorage admin

This is one of the biggest headaches for clinics, with some reporting up to 50% of cryostorage invoices going unpaid – negatively impacting their bottom line. Automated tools can help by dynamically generating invoices based on EMR data, saving time, reducing errors and improving revenue collections too.  

  • Content management system (CMS)

CMSs can be adopted by clinics of all sizes. For small clinics, they’re a great way to remove the burden of admin around delivery of treatment guidance and for large clinics, they help with scaling faster. For example, by centralising and standardising content with a CMS it's easier to spin up a new clinic or satellite location and have your digitally powered patient pathway ready to go in minutes, rather than weeks. A CMS can even help manage all of your treatment info in multiple languages.

  • Patient relationship management (PRM)

This is the ‘brain’ that automatically drives patient education, compliance and satisfaction. Typically powered by data in the EMR, the PRM provides behavioural nudges, medication reminders, appointment reminders, automated follow-ups and is the glue that connects all of these tools to create a seamless patient experience. Many clinics are thinking about deploying CRM software but we believe EMR-powered PRM tools are more effective for the healthcare setting.

To wrap up 

There are several key factors to consider when adopting telemedicine tools – operations, technology and culture. Operationally, the workflows around technology are just as important as the tech itself. So, in the short-term, it might be best to leave efficient analogue processes in place until the tech is fully figured out. 

The future of healthcare is integrated, so to future-proof your technologies make sure your EMR has an open API or is open to integrating with third parties. And finally, technology is only as good as the people that use it – so invest in your teams. You’ll need a workforce that’s passionate about the technology and understand how the changes benefit them directly in order to deliver the best remote patient care possible.

Got a question or want to learn more about any of the above? We’re here whenever you need us – just drop us a line