We’re not surprised at all when we hear about people feeling like they’re stuck in limbo when it comes to knowing what they should do, how they should do it and when. We’re living in a very unique time in history right now and this level of uncertainty has touched every aspect of our lives, including how we access healthcare.
We’ve chatted with many other clinics and independent healthcare providers and here’s our take on some of the reasons why some people were initially hesitant to book virtual appointments:
Adjustment of priorities
When the pandemic first hit, people's first priority was figuring out how to manage working from home, caring for their children at home, providing education for their children, etc. As those core life requirements became everyone’s priority, and took up the bulk of our time, other areas of our lives took a back seat. Things like taking care of our own health and well-being got put on the back burner. This became even more evident in people who might have considered taking action and booking some sort of healthcare appointment before the pandemic but had no existing relationship with a healthcare provider. Referencing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we were all trying to reestablish our basic needs (the bottom of the pyramid) before we thought about anything else.
We’re in this for the long haul
We often talk about managing expectations when we deal with people in our personal and professional lives and the pandemic is no exception. Many people thought that the lockdowns and other restrictions to our daily lives would only last a few weeks and they took the holding pattern approach; they were content to wait it out and have their in-person appointments when things reopened. While things are reopening now, albeit in limited capacities, they are reopening to a new version of what they once were and it’s very different than before.
As with any new trend or phenomenon, especially new technologies, there are innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%) , early majority (34%), late majority (34%), and laggards (16%).
The current rate of technology adoption is definitely quicker than normal, out of sheer necessity. The barriers to usage of these communication technologies are much lower due to the ease of usability for the related hardware and software. Plus, we can’t ignore the value of jumping in with two feet … we didn’t really have an option; either adapt or don’t see your friends and family.
Our lives are partly virtual now, and it’s here to stay
Connecting virtually is now part of our everyday lives. Our kids are attending school remotely, we’re connecting with our friends and family virtually, we’re attending virtual religious services, virtual board meetings, virtual work meetings… it’s important to accept that connecting virtually is a big part of our lives. While virtual interactions won’t permanently replace the physical interactions so important to us, they are a valuable and important resource to use and embrace during our current situation.
Before the pandemic, most of us lived at home and worked at the office. With most of us working from home now, having a private, quiet space to work in, became a new challenge. Without being able to go into your regular healthcare providers’ offices, this private space could double as a virtual clinic room, where you could have your virtual healthcare appointments.
Here’s the thing, we’re all facing the same or similar challenges. Whether it’s kids popping into your zoom meetings, crying babies in the background while on phone calls, or something else everyone understands and there’s no judgement on this front.
For those parents working at home with young kids, finding the time for a healthcare appointment, virtual or in-person, can be a problem. There isn’t a magical solution for this one; you have to MAKE time for these appointments, MAKE time for yourself. As the saying goes, “you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.” Every parent knows that’s true, yet we often put our kid, spouses and colleagues before ourselves.
Virtual appointments require far less time out of your schedule than going to a clinic, when you factor in the time required to travel to and from the clinic. Try to schedule it in when you know the kids will be preoccupied or when you have some extra help.
Benefits of Virtual Appointments
HealthCare provided are taught in medical school that taking a thorough medical history can give you up to 90 percent of the information you need, with the remaining 10 percent coming from the physical exam. (Ref:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277113/ ).
When we remove the hands-on examination portion of the assessment, and focus on a thorough verbal and visual assessment, we gain some unique insights into the patient’s condition.
Virtual appointments have some unique benefits. For example, a virtual Physiotherapy appointment from home can show your Physiotherapist how your workspace is set up and how you sit, while a Virtual Chiropody appointment from home allows you to show your Chiropodist all the various types of shoes that you wear as well as the environment in which you work, play or exercise.. These unique benefits make virtual appointments a more practical and beneficial option in some instances.
For traditionally hands-on services, like Physiotherapy, many people feel they might not get the full benefit from a virtual appointment. However, physiotherapists have seen huge success with virtual appointments and most of our patients who have started virtual appointments often choose to continue receiving virtual treatments (rather than seek in-person appointments) or adopt a hybrid model of care whereby virtual appointments are combined with in-person appointments.
Virtual Care is here to stay
The changes to the delivery of healthcare might just be one of the best things to come out of the pandemic - this method of delivering and accessing healthcare is here to stay. People appreciate the safety, efficiency and convenience that comes hand in hand with virtual appointments. The government is on board with OHIP providing coverage for virtual doctors visits. Insurance providers are now providing coverage for virtual paramedical services (including Chiropody, Physiotherapy, Dietetics and Naturopathy). The professional colleges governing healthcare providers are encouraging their members to continue offering services virtually and continue to provide more detailed guidelines about which services to offer virtually vs in person. Healthcare providers are sharing best practices and learning from each other regarding best ways to leverage virtual appointment technologies to provide the best patient experience.
In keeping with our mission statement of providing our patients safe, convenient access to the best healthcare, HealthCasa will continue to offer virtual care in conjunction with our in- person services for the foreseeable future.
Click HERE to book a Virtual healthcare appointment in the comfort and safety of your own home.