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Date of Publication: 9 May, 2020
• Life has taken a hit with the #COVID19 #Lockdown
Most Consultants, especially, the medical fraternity, is finding really difficult to connect with their patients and visa versa. This blog offers healthcare professionals to understand the benefits of eConsultation as a tool to connect and offer valuable consultations to people with medical problems.
e-Consultation provides a modern way to deliver healthcare services via online platforms. eConsultation makes it very possible for the patients to gain access to nation wide medical expertise that otherwise is not available. However, the adoption and usage of e-Consultation is still far from satisfactory. Trust is the major driving force of an e-Consultation service adoption.
However, with the lockdown due to COVID19, eConsultation is the need of the hour. As most of the patients, who are on long term medication, with a need to report to their doctors, even for a repeat prescription, are facing a hard time. Patients with mild infections are also stuck at home. Patients who have planned surgeries pending also require medical consultation. Additionally, certain medical awareness from repeated COVID related messages to quick remedial action at home needs to be spread among common folks, especially, during these trying times. With the explosion of online media as discussed in a previous blog, “Scope of Online Branding During the #Lockdown and Beyond,” eConsultation can be the option.
With most us confined, convenience of medical consultation through online platform offers a great relief. One can choose their preferred appointment time from a list of available times and make booking with the just a click of a button. No driving or waiting at the doctors’ chamber. It offers a easy connectivity between you and your patients.
Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to provide instant prescription and instant referral (to see a specialist, for example). You might also be able to provide instant medical certificates as well. In most circumstances, your patients can access the same features from you as they would if they had attended your office in person.
What eConsultation does, is provide access to doctors beyond the geographical limitations. Even those who live in metropolitan areas can find it hard to see the doctor during the hours they’d prefer, because of restrictions imposed. An online consultation service is worth considering for this reason. You can bypass the issues associated with your patients getting to the your office to book their appointments.
eConsultation helps your patients, who are already in a state of helplessness, take care of any nagging health issues early, as they can easily make an appointment online and see the doctor whenever required.
Another benefit of eConsultation is the automatic record-keeping services, which means health records are kept up to date after each appointment. The records can then be shared with your patients and other medical professionals when necessary. This makes it extra convenient and ensures your patient’s health history stays comprehensive and updated.
eConsultation lets your patients consult with you from the privacy of their own home. No risk of them bumping into someone they do not want to disclose about the visit, or get infected from the crowd. Once they’re connected with you via video, it’s as if sitting in the consulting room, and your patient can enjoy the same level of privacy without having to travel physically to you.
Talking about your patient’s health concerns via a screen can be easier than you think, and since they can be in the comfort of their own home, the experience could be more relaxed than you expect.
It has been quite some time now that people across the world are stuck in their homes. Healthcare has been a major concern. It can be easily found from the high volume of healthcare related searches that has happened over last few days. Providing eConsultations, especially, if provided free of cost as a CSR activity, could be great for your brand and persona. It would help you build your reputation, establishing a relation of trust and obligation toward you.
The fact that there is no physical examination involved, eConsultation can have a negative consequence. You may be very skilled at determining what is wrong with your patient through physical examination. However, eConsultation will have this limitation. Most clinical diagnosis will be derived from how well the patient communicates about the symptoms and other relevant information. Though previous prescriptions and diagnostic reports can also be made available. This can sometimes be very embarrassing. We would recommend providing eConsultations for minor cases. If the patient seem serious they could be referred or asked to meet in person.
Communicating people about a community engagement process is critical to being successful. Online community engagement is no different from traditional engagement methods in this respect.
The objective of communicating about the service, using both online and offline marketing strategies, is to build public awareness, so that it attracts the relevant people into participating in the eConsultation process, thereby helping you build your brand.
First, just because a consultation is online doesn’t mean that people will flock to it. An e-consultation process is not a better mousetrap. You still need to actively promote it, just as people do for traditional consultations.
The objectives of promotion, using both online and offline marketing strategies, is to build public awareness, brand the process, and attract the relevant people into participating in it.
As in any form of marketing communication, you need to think clearly about the people you are trying to get to respond:
Considering all things equal, more than 90% of your eConsultation “traffic” will come from four major sources:
This may vary if you have access to a database for direct marketing; hence the value in building your online community over time.
You need to conceive yourself that, community engagement is a important activity for you and your organization and that your brand will benefit hugely from the process. This will NOT happen if the link to your eConsultation is buried deep on your website. The link must be clear and very pronounced on the very first page of your website, you can use a clickable banner or put it up in the main navigation bar.
Try to keep short, pithy and simple URL for the link to eConsultation page. Avoid acronyms. Avoid made-up words. Avoid using of any long form name you might have for the project.
If it is particularly of high profile and strategically important to your organization, you can always purchase a eConsultation specific URL and redirect it to the eConsultation site on your website or you can have it designed with a further third party application.
Make sure the URL is prominently displayed on all of your marketing collaterals.
Submission of eConsultation URL to Search Consoles with proper technical and on-page SEO done is very important for getting a early SERP listing. Try creating backlinks from your associates’ websites to further boost the ranking.
Include security and privacy information, it should be clearly stated on you website. It helps to build confidence of the ones seeking the service.
Use Search Ads to reach out based on keyword mapping and geography. Display ads in strategic websites could help build both leads and awareness for the project.
Have a dedicated social media page or community page communicate about the project. Use video contents, as it adds reach within your followers, as modern algorithms are skewed toward videos. Targeted Facebook advertisements can help you reach out. You can create a Twitter #hashtag for the project. You can also use LinkedIn to reach out to your corporate patients.
Write professional blogs on eConsultation services that you offer with videos of beneficiaries speaking of various technical aspect that you might offer. Always remember to be very clear in communicating what to expect when someone opts for the eConsultation.
Sent emails to your entire staff, associates and your patient database, to let them know about the project – make the URL prominent – and ask them to pass on the email to their friends and family.
Conduct a joint press conference by all eConsultation stakeholders to promote its benefits (tangible and intangible) to all parties and to relate how the project is progressing. With the lockdown you can also use a webinar to communication with the press or sent a press release or video through PR channels.
You can think of advertising through traditional media channels like TV and FM. News Broadcasting Channels may prove handy.
Academic paper publications in Journals raises the awareness of such projects in the academic world; similar publications in public policy oriented practitioner journals are also effective in raising awareness of the possibilities available.
Find champions in spearheading and advocating your eConsultation project. Getting politicians or celebrities involved will boost up the searches thereby it would provide a great impetus to your eConsultation project.
eConsultation may require certain proficiency from your patients as well. It could require them to upload reports and previous prescriptions along with downloading the advice.
Provide easy links, easy go through manuals and infographics about how they can set up the appointment and attain the eConsultation service.
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