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Converting Patients to Virtual Visits with Darryl Yardley

Introduction:

The first question you may be asking yourself is why; why in the world would I want to convert patients to virtual care? Did we not just spend the last four (long) months seeing patients virtually? C’mon Embodia, I was really excited to go back to clinic, my clients were excited for in-person visits, why must you come here now to burst my bubble?! 

We apologize in advance for any bubble bursting that may occur as a result of this blog, but, and get ready for this, hybrid is the new normal. Actually, we understand that although a shock to some, this news may not actually come as a surprise to many of us who are quite well informed and stay up to date on what is happening in the world of healthcare. Regardless, today’s blog will speak to both of these groups: We will first speak to the shocked ones amongst you, and explain the why (to convert), and then to the not-so-shocked ones, with some tips on the how (to convert). This blog is based on the Embodia course, Converting Patients to Virtual Care with Darryl Yardley. This course is an engaging and open conversation about where Darryl Yardley, Director of Quality, Risk and Therapy Services at Brant Community Health System and Chair of the Private Practice Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, sees healthcare moving to in the post-pandemic world; facilitated by Embodia’s co-founder, physiotherapist Maggie Bergeron.   

Why is Virtual Care Necessary?

You’ve gone back to clinic, but now, due to physical distancing restrictions and infection prevention control protocols implemented at your clinic, you find yourself only at 60-70% of your capacity, wondering how you will make ends meet and get back to your pre-COVID in-person volume.  

If you’ve reverted back to primarily in-person care, your caseload may be impacted in one or more of the following ways:

  • Increasing delays in access to care for new patients seeking out your expertise; your dream patients may now start going somewhere else instead.  
  • Reduced availability for patient follow-up visits. We will find ourselves prescribing based on our own availability instead of co-creating a plan for care based on the patient’s needs and goals. 
  • Higher self-discharges from your prescribed plan of care. 

In addition to providing solutions to the above problems, virtual care also allows patients to keep their appointments in situations where they would have previously cancelled them, such as inclement weather, illness, lack of childcare, alien invasion, etc. As we know, these cancellations often find themselves unable to re-book following their cancellation due to high clinic volume, and then fall through the cracks, either not receiving care or seeking care with other physiotherapists (or other healthcare practitioners). 

Lastly, virtual care further benefits the patient as it allows you to collaborate with other physiotherapists and healthcare practitioners both nationally and internationally. No single healthcare practitioner knows everything; long-distance collaboration allows us to fill-in the gaps in our practice using the skillsets of other practitioners, thereby not doing a disservice to our patients.  

How to Convert?

With the importance of virtual care becoming overwhelmingly transparent, the next obvious question becomes, how do we help our patients convert to virtual care? 

Darryl Yardley recommends staying away from selling the patient on anything virtual, and instead, co-creating the patient’s plan of care alongside the patient based on their needs and goals, and then sharing their options with them.

Converting the patient to virtual care is a subjective matter and depends on the practitioner’s comfort level as well as on the specific patient’s goals and needs. However, here is one method that you can use to can help your patients convert to virtual care:

  1. Connect with your patient: Listen to their story and expectations and then co-create a plan alongside your patient based on their goals and needs. 
  2. Give them their options: Explain to your patients that in order to meet the milestones set out in the care plan you would need to see them for example, twice per week. 
  3. Check feasibility: Ask your patient “how feasible is it for you to come see me twice a week?”
  4. Address objections and concerns: If a patient cannot see you twice a week in clinic, let them know that once a week would also work, but then recommend that you see them virtually as well. 
  5. Offer social proof: As virtual care may still be new to many patients, after you have made a virtual care suggestion, offer the social proof of individuals who you (or others, if you have not yet practiced virtual care) have treated with similar conditions/situations who have had really good outcomes, and share some of the feedback that they have provided you.

The hybrid model of care allows you to keep the best interests of your patients in mind: Should we face another wave of COVID-19 in the fall as is being forecasted, having your patients adjusted to virtual care means that they will be comfortable using virtual care and their progress will not be not dampened. 

Disclaimer: Keep in mind that although many and most clients can be treated using virtual care, you must remember to perform a risk assessment and make sure that your clients are safe when you see them virtually. How do you decide who is an eligible candidate for virtual care? Watch this short video from the course Converting Patients to Virtual Care with Darryl Yardley, in which Darryl discusses some creative ideas about virtual care eligibility as well as what the hybrid model of care means for our role with manual therapy.

If you’ve found this video interesting and have more questions, we invite you to start by checking out our course, Converting Patients to Virtual Visits by following the link below:

Click Here for the full Course

In addition, Darryl Yardley would also love to chat with you! Darryl runs Mentorship Bootcamp, a physiotherapist mentorship group. Mentorship Bootcamp helps you double your caseload in the fastest time possible and stop self-discharges (amongst many other things). You can sign up by following the link and get a free Zoom phone call with Darryl!

Conclusion: 

Virtual care is here to stay, but, that does not mean that we as practitioners will become obselete. The hybrid model of care is flexible and dependent upon a myriad of factors including both practitioner and client preferences and needs. Some of us may choose to practice mostly virtually, others mostly in-person; whatever you choose, make it work for you. We must now future-proof our practices by using digital tools to complement and enhance the care we provide. In this new world, we must co-create our care plans with our patients instead of creating at them from ivory towers. No one will ever replace us, however, not keeping up with the times can result in opprotunity, care, and revenue lost. 

About The Instructor

Darryl Yardley PT, FCAMPT 

Darryl is currently the Director of Quality, Risk and Therapy Services at the Brant Community Health System. He is the Chair of the Private Practice Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. He is a consultant with orthopaedic and neurosurgeons and has a special interest in hip and spine. He is a co-author of, Diagnosis and Management of Femoroacetabular Impingement: An Evidence-Based Approach – Chapter: ‘Evidence for Rehabilitation After FAI Surgery: A guide to Postsurgical Rehabilitation and Supporting Evidence.’ Darryl is the professor of the Business and Entrepreneurship in Physical Therapy course at Western University. He also lectures at McMaster, University of Toronto and Queen's on business and practice management topics. Darryl is the founder of Mentorship Bootcamp - offering the business training and career mentorship to succeed in today’s competitive market. He consults with many clinic owners to grow their business, and develop the business-acumen of their therapists. He is the co-founder of EnCORE Research, and a partner of the Pelvic Health Research Collaborative. He is the co-founder of Entry to Practice Essentials, the first Canadian PCE study guide.

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Blog writer, editor: Nataliya Zlotnikov

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