How Dermatologists can use telemedicine during COVID-19

In the current climate, many practices have been asked to postpone elective and non-emergency procedures, or have chosen to close as a means to enforce social distancing. According to the AAD, the government has relaxed telemedicine regulations during this time so physicians can continue to consult with patients. Telemedicine makes the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunication technologies possible. It provides long-distance contact, care, and advice between the physician and patient.

As your practice shifts to telemedicine appointments, tools like email, Facebook, Instagram, and your website have become essential to maintain communication with your patients. Here are some ways to keep your patients informed of your telemedicine availability and how they can best prepare for a seamless virtual visit.

Inform your patients of your telemedicine availability

Many of your patients may be unaware that they are still able to schedule an appointment under various state’s ‘shelter in place’ orders. Sending out an email to all of your patients letting them know you are available via virtual appointments is simple and effective. Let patients know that new regulations have opened up this option beyond the standard telemedicine portals. Now it can be easily executed with any video app available like Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and more.

You should also keep your patients informed of this new or expanded service on your website. Your homepage is the focal point where patients will have easy access to updates and important information. Explain to your patients how you are adjusting your practice and which treatments you can offer via telemedicine appointments.

Prepare your patients to ensure a successful virtual appointment

Some of your patients may be intimidated by the technical aspect of a telemedicine appointment. Instagram or Facebook posts showing your patients a simple video tutorial is a practical way to familiarize your patients with the expectations of your new service. Remember – you can use a smartphone for any videos you post on social media or your website. You don’t need any special video equipment.

As you offer clear tips on preparedness, patients will be encouraged to book an appointment. To enhance this new service, continue to use your text and email reminders to remind patients how and when to prepare. A sure way to execute a successful virtual appointment is to customize your reminders with these virtual appointment guidelines as their appointment approaches.  

Since most people won’t have access to the fluorescent lighting available at your practice, it’s important to remind patients that good lighting will enhance their virtual appointment. You should advise patients to find a quiet room with access to good lighting.

If you choose to not use video conferencing for your telemedicine services, it may be more helpful to have patients take photos from multiple angles. You can also link to examples of good photos vs bad photos on your website. 

Best appointment types for telemedicine

While a telemedicine appointment doesn’t replace in-office treatments,there are several skin conditions you can diagnose  via virtual visits like rashes, eczema, and psoriasis. Additionally, you can easily submit new or refill prescriptions.

These new telemedicine technologies and reduced restrictions by the government on telemedicine appointments will help you maintain the success of your practice.

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