A Guide To Transitioning Your Chiropractic Practice To Telemedicine
The current state of affairs in the world has changed the way people practice medicine, and chiropractors are no exception to the rule. Whether you’ve already started the transition to telehalth or you’re just now considering it, it is important to understand how telemedicine works when it comes to such a hands-on profession. The truth is it works quite well! In fact, following this guide to help you make the transition could even lead you to providing online appointments indefinitely.
Understanding the Change in Appointment Structure
Most medical appointments are at least somewhat hands-on, but the very nature of chiropractic medicine means you’ve likely been in close proximity to every patient you’ve had. It also means that you won’t be able to make a full switch to telemedicine. Even so, telehealth still has benefits for chiropractors. People choose chiropractic medicine for a variety of reasons that range from numbness and tingling or headaches to severe pain related to a previous injury.
While the latter patients often need hands-on care, those with minor injuries may be able to use your guidance to treat themselves at home. In these cases, telemedicine is beneficial. It allows you to save in-person appointments for those who need it, helps your day run more efficiently, and protects yourself and your patients from the unnecessary spread of germs. If a telehealth consultation determines your patient needs hands-on care, you can then schedule the appointment.
Using High-End Technology
Naturally, you’ll need the right technology if you hope to add virtual appointments to your practice. An old, beat-up laptop with a basic microphone probably isn’t your best bet. Be sure you have high-end, high-definition equipment to maintain your professionalism during online appointments. Invest in a high-quality, well-reviewed laptop or tablet device, a high-end microphone, and an HD camera for your appointments. In addition, you’ll need to ensure you have access to high-speed internet to avoid buffering of video or sound during your online consultations.
Managing Your Patient Notes Well Is Essential
Your technology needs don’t stop at high-end hardware. You also need quality software. In addition to a good email program and video chatting software, you must have access to telehealth software. These programs help you track appointments and patient notes, but you’ll need your own degree of organization to ensure the job is done correctly. For many chiropractors making the switch to telemedicine, this means using the SOAP approach. A chiropractic SOAP note consists of four categories:
- Subjective Information – Subjective details come from the information your patient provides to you. This is often an overview of his or her main reason for contacting you, including a description of the pain, rating of its severity, and any other symptoms.
- Objective Information – Objective details are derived from your own knowledge and observations. While you may visually notice something via telemedicine, objective details often come from hands-on contact. They include weight, blood pressures, and imaging tests as well as hands-on exams.
- Assessment – The assessment is an analysis of the patient’s situation based on the information he or she provides and the information you gather from your objectivity. Assessment leads to diagnosis.
- Plan – Once diagnosed, your patient needs a care plan. This may include future in-person appointments for chiropractic adjustments, suggestions for lifestyle changes, recommended future visits, or prescribed medications.
Following State and Federal Regulations
Even when working remotely, medical professionals must remain HIPAA compliant and follow all other state and federal regulations. Telehealth regulations vary between states, so be sure to research before making the switch. You wouldn’t want to lose your license due to misunderstandings. Keep in mind that you likely won’t be able to provide telehealth appointments for anyone out of state. Additionally, your online system must have professional security and data safeguards, such as verification technologies and data tracking, to ensure your patients’ information remains safe and confidential.
Benefiting Your Practice
Telehealth is beneficial for both your patients and your practice. For your patients, virtual appointments often means they’ll seek treatment more quickly and have better access to healthcare. This is especially true for patients who do not have reliable transportation. It also makes current patients more likely to follow through with continued treatment plans. For your practice, virtual chiropractic care means you’ll spend more time actively listening to patients, improve your one-on-one appointments since you’ll already have an idea of the problem, and often be able treat your patients at a lower cost to you both.
Remember, patients are used to the hands-on experience of having a chiropractic appointment. Keep your clients updated on what’s happening before, during, and after your transition to ensure they understand how virtual appointments will benefit them and ensure they keep coming back.