Call Centers: The Next-generation Clinics

nurse holding a clipboard in clinicThe doctor is in — to the call center, that is (or at least could be soon).

As the many benefits of telehealth solutions and virtualized care broaden the reach of a healthcare organization into a patient’s home, they are changing what a traditional visit looks like from a patient’s perspective. For example:

  • Instead of dealing with traffic, a patient just has to ensure internet connectivity
  • Instead of waiting in line to check in at reception desk, a patient just has to log in to a virtual waiting room
  • Instead of making an appointment to check on a suspicious-looking rash, a patient just has to text the doctor a photo of it and receive a medical opinion and recommendations via email or web chat

But to only see the impact of telehealth technology from a patient’s perspective would be to miss half of the picture. As the saying goes, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In the case of telehealth, this reaction is found in the way it’s fundamentally changing what a healthcare clinic could look like.

For decades, physicians have worked mainly in the same type of environment their field has known for years, and healthcare organizations have operated in much the same way. Now, however, thanks to the adoption of various technological advancements, the parameters of what defines healthcare clinics is changing.

Related: Easily Enable Virtual Care & Telehealth Deployments

While telehealth will likely serve as more of a supplement than a substitute for the vast number of clinics across the U.S. — from hospitals to doctors’ offices to local Walgreens pharmacies where patients can receive flu shots — the future of patient care is beginning to look much different.

Thanks to increasing deployment of encrypted communications, video chats and file sharing, clinics will soon no longer be bound to the physical parameters of a building or certain geographic location — which means their future could look a lot like a call center full of doctors (possibly in lab coats and shorts) ready to meet with you, virtually.

Imagine it: instead of a doctor driving into a clinic every morning to see his or her patients, putting on a stethoscope and grabbing a paper chart, he or she drives into a business park, puts on a headset and opens the digital system to check in on virtual waiting rooms, consult with patients and update patient charts digitally.

As the scenario suggests, the benefits of a call center clinic would multiply the already-known benefits of telehealth solutions: saving time for both the patient and physician, increasing the number of patient visits possible for a doctor and enabling live updates to a patient’s medical chart during a video consult.

While the healthcare industry is still working to keep pace with the technological innovations hitting the market every year and tech vendors are working to become more secure and HIPAA-compliant, the communications infrastructure will eventually be strong, secure and widely available enough to support such a scenario — which is why we believe call centers will turn into the next generation of clinics.

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