How Can Telemedicine Benefit Dermatologists?
Here’s the scoop on how telemedicine software can help enhance your dermatology practice.
Digital technology increasingly surrounds us on a daily basis, whether it’s our smartphone, smart speakers in our home, ordering via an iPad at a restaurant or pressing a button to reorder an online purchase. Most of the time, these technological advancements add convenience to our lives and give us more time to focus on what we really need and want to do.
So where does digital technology fit when it comes to your dermatology office? Dermatology electronic health records (EHR) systems, patient kiosks, portals and telemedicine software are just a handful of the tech-centric products that can help revolutionize your practice and aid in the increasing importance of patient engagement. In this post, I’ll focus on some of the key benefits of telemedicine services for dermatologists. First, let’s start with the types of telemedicine software out there.
Types of Telemedicine Software
Each type of telemedicine has a certain audience and appropriate use cases. One option includes live video-conferencing, where the patient and provider “meet” at a scheduled time via two-way video connection. Next, we have asynchronous telemedicine, also known as store-and-forward, where a patient shares their health information with the healthcare provider, who can review it at their convenience. Another is remote patient monitoring (RPM), which collects health information from a patient in one area, then electronically shares that information with a caregiver or provider in another location. This type is commonly used in senior living communities. And finally, the kind many of us engage with on a daily basis is mobile health, or mHealth. This uses smart devices like a smartphone or wearable tech to monitor health-related metrics—think of your Apple Watch or Fitbit.
Now that I’ve defined some of the most utilized telemedicine options out there, let’s focus on the store-and-forward option, which the dermatology field often utilizes. We’ll explore four ways this technology may benefit your practice, but if you want even more information, I recommend The American Academy of Dermatology’s helpful teledermatology toolkit.
Perks of Asynchronous Telemedicine for Dermatology
1. Aim to maximize your time.
Time is one of your most precious resources, and telemedicine software can help you make the most of it. Asynchronous telemedicine can address routine concerns more quickly and efficiently than office visits, while freeing up appointment slots to help you see more patients. You don’t have to worry about missed appointments with asynchronous telemedicine either, since there’s no scheduled time for you and your patient to connect. Another plus: if a patient misses their appointment in clinic, that can give you time to respond to a telemedicine patient, making you more efficient with the time you have.
Especially if it integrates with your current dermatology EHR, a telemedicine platform should have a simple setup and minimal learning curve. That way, you can easily get up and running and not get bogged down by adding this service to your practice’s offerings.
2. Help increase patient volume.
I recommend using telemedicine for current patients only, as having an established rapport and medical history makes a difference. Even so, this expands your reach to patients who are in more rural areas, have transportation challenges or time constraints. They don’t have to come into the office as frequently, but you can still care for them through a secure app while getting paid, versus trying to diagnose them over a phone call or text. We’ve all been there with after-hours calls, attempting to diagnose a rash based on a vague description and a less than ideal photograph. Telemedicine can help to give you the ability to provide care for patients with mild cases and for routine follow-ups, also potentially allowing you to see more patients in clinic.
3. Help improve convenience.
Often, when your dermatology EHR vendor also offers a telemedicine solution, the information integrates directly into the patient’s health record, which can help keep data from falling through the cracks. This brings added convenience because you have a single vendor contact for both services, and you don’t have to try to piece together incompatible systems or reenter data.
It provides your patients with greater access to you, and it gives you the convenience to practice and treat patients when you want without disrupting your day-to-day routine in clinic. If you’re on the go and receive a message after hours, which seems to occur often, you should have accessibility to log in from a mobile device and respond appropriately to requests. Plus, an asynchronous solution can eliminate the time constraints of an in-person visit or a video-conferencing telemedicine service. Incorporating telemedicine software enables you to “see” and treat patients on your schedule.
4. Stay ahead of the competition.
With the vast number of dermatology practices out there for patients to choose from, any way you can differentiate yourself from the competition works in your favor. Incorporating the latest technological advances, such as telemedicine software, is one of the many ways to reach a growing tech-savvy population that’s constantly on the move and set you apart from other practices.
Overall, telemedicine can help you provide better patient experience while expanding access to see more patients, both in the office and digitally at your convenience. Offering a telemedicine solution in your practice can benefit you as a provider, your practice as a business and patients as valued customers, too. It’s a win-win-win!
Jordan Miller, MD
Senior Medical Director of Dermatology
Dr. Jordan Miller is the Senior Medical Director of Dermatology. As one of Modernizing Medicine’s first clients, he quickly became a “super-user.” Today, as a practicing dermatologist, Dr. Miller leads development of the dermatology-specific electronic health record system and works with clients to create specialty-specific software.