Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has been a safe and easy way to see a health provider when going in person isn’t an option.
According to Jesse Ohayon, CEO of Doctegrity, which is fully operated online and based in Dallas, and Dr. Boris Royak, executive director of ARC Psychiatry in Beachwood, the availability of telehealth appointments has led to increased patient engagement.
“We have noticed an increase in patient engagement, both from established patients and new,” Royak noted. “With the ease of telehealth, patients have the convenience of receiving care while in the comfort and safety of their own homes. The ease of attending multiple appointments has reduced our number of cancellations. We have courtesy calls 10 minutes before a patient’s scheduled appointment to assist using the telehealth service if they need it, and it also serves as a reminder for the appointment.”
At ARC Psychiatry, Royak noted patients have been coming in a steady flow and they continue to accept new ones at all three of their offices in Beachwood, Westlake and Canton.
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“We have also added several providers to our practice to accommodate the increase and expand on our specialties and offered services,” he added.
Ohayon said Doctegrity is a little different from the normal provider. As some providers help their doctors get their offices online, he explained Doctegrity is kind of like “Uber for doctors.” Patients can explain they’re feeling sick, list their symptoms and get connected to a doctor to write a prescription or discuss the next steps. Because of their model, Ohayon said engagement was already good, but the pandemic has increased patient requests.
“For us, they don’t have to go anywhere at all, people can basically just use any smartphone, dial in and just call us,” he explained. “We can call them back and talk through their issues. At the end of the day, because we’re using board-certified physicians, they’re seeing the same quality of service that they would at an office or emergency room.”
Ohayon said Doctegrity was originally used in emergencies – like it’s 2 a.m. and someone is sick and you can’t make it to the doctor’s office. Explaining it was more of a convenience factor and a way to save money since the service is charged by a monthly fee, the pandemic has initiated a shift in the way patients use the service.
“Since the pandemic, people have had a lot of concerns about going out and seeing a doctor in person,” he said. “People still get sick with things other than COVID-19, so the need is there. But, we do get COVID calls too –people having questions about the care and their general concerns of going to a medical facility of office during the pandemic as there is increased risk in contact.”
Many providers are using increased engagement as an opportunity to interact with patients in new and unique ways, Royak said.
“Our providers use a safe and secure telehealth platform to connect with our patients so we can continue offering exceptional care during the stay-at-home order,” he said. “We’re thankful this option was available and easy to adopt so that we never had to turn away patients seeking care.”
And the innovation of telehealth is also a positive to many providers.
“Being innovative in health care during the pandemic is extremely important,” Royak stated. “The pandemic has affected everyone differently. Some patients may have adapted quickly to the technology overhaul that seemed to happen overnight. For others, the increased use of technology may have triggered various levels of anxiety. We feel it is important to be adaptive and think of creative ways to provide care for all patients.”
Ohayon added, “When we have patient consultations over telemedicine, we really focus on our doctors having not a good bedside manner, but a good web-side manner. It’s a bit of a different experience of it – we’re not there to take your temperature or feel if your skin is cool or clammy. So, we ask a lot more questions than a normal visit and seeing how everything is going. This allows people to seek advice from their doctors, too.”
Source: Clevel and Jewishnews