Telemedicine was originally envisioned for its use in rural areas. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine was started gaining traction in hospitals, large group practices, and online telemedicine services. Now after the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every medical specialty is finding a way to adopt telemedicine. There are some specialties where telemedicine adoption is comparatively high like pediatrics and behavioral health while specialty like surgery this adoption rate is low.
There are many reasons you should also think about adopting telemedicine as it can be a useful tool for practice. Before using telemedicine in full capacity, you can start with follow-up visits, reinforcing treatment adherence, and can think about offering your services in underserved areas. The convenience it offers can help you in retaining current patients and attracting new ones.
Reasons for Adopting Telemedicine:
- Expands Practice Access and Reaches More Patients: You can use telemedicine services to reach patients in rural areas and outside your normal care delivery systems. In rural areas, patients have to drove many miles to receive care at their state-of-the-art facility. It’s a great way for midlevel patient education and ultimately reaching a variety of people in new ways.
- Improves Patient Engagement with Remote Monitoring: Physicians need to teach patients how to care for themselves between clinical visits. Adopting telemedicine for remote monitoring is a great way medical providers can improve outcomes while still cutting costs. You can use telemedicine to report patient metrics from the comfort of their own home and easily can engage them in their own journey toward health.
- Reduces Patient No-Shows: There are lots of practices that are struggling with frequent no-shows. No-shows had become a significant reason for losing revenue. Quality of care was being compromised, particularly on follow-up visits. As per the recent study by Becker, practices that expanded treatment with telemedicine, the targeted service line improved no-show rates by 50%.
- Reduces Practice Overhead: You would be surprised to know that the cost of a telehealth visit is much less than traditional on-site visits. As per the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC), you can save $86.64 on an online visit when it replaces an onsite visit. The average cost of an emergency room visit is $1,734 and the average cost of an on-site doctor’s office visit is $146. On the other hand, a telemedicine visit is only $79 on average.
- Increases Practice Revenue: For the patient and provider, telemedicine is less time-consuming. It allows physicians to bill for uncompensated phone calls while also extending hours to capture more billable time. As discussed above, it cuts down on no-shows and can improve the efficiency of a practice.
- Improves Patient Satisfaction: For the success of any practice, patient satisfaction is a key performance indicator. A recent patient survey from the nationwide chain of CVS Minute Clinics reported up to a 99% satisfaction score with their telehealth visit. 87% of the patients using the OrthoLive said they would use telemedicine services again.
Still, there is something you should take care of patient payments. Before the visit, patients must be educated on the amount that will be charged, what they will have to pay, and the procedures for payment. As for telemedicine patient does not see you in person, you need to create a method to collect the co-pay and other out-of-pocket payments from patients. Billing for the visit should be discussed before the telemedicine visit.
Planning for telemedicine requires determining whether your patients will actually use it, deciding how you want to use it, and integrating it into your practice. You can start with one or two services, such as follow-up visits or refills, and expand from there. Begin telemedicine by limiting it to simple services that could draw a lot of patients.
For example, primary care physicians might use it for providing medication refills, blood pressure follow-ups, or diabetes check-ins. Surgeons might use it for preoperative or postoperative visits for certain procedures.
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