Both medical professionals and patients alike greatly benefit from telemedicine services. The trend of adopting communication based technology services (CBTS) is becoming widespread as Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurance payers have relaxed their administrative guidelines and improved their reimbursement models. FH Health Indicators reports that telemedicine visits grew 53% nationally from 2016 to 2017. Here are the top five reasons for clinicians to offer telemedicine…
1. Better Access to Care
Making medical care more available is essential to achieving a healthy patient population. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 46 million Americans, or a total of 15% of the U.S. population live in rural areas, where the nearest medical center is 20+ miles away. Many of these patients have no access to public transportation and telemedicine allows them to get the care they need when they need it. Patients are more likely to be compliant and engaged when they have easy access to prompt, quality medical treatment. In many rural areas, telemedicine provides direct access to specialists which would not otherwise be accessible by patients. In addition, now more than ever, it is critical that clinicians can reach their patient population at home when quarantines and social distancing are mandated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Cost Effectiveness
As the healthcare industry continues to transition from fee-for-service to value-based care, it is critical to reduce expenses. Avoidable readmissions account for $17B in expenses, and preventable emergency use represents $8.3B in costs each year. Both of these numbers may be reduced significantly with improved communications between patients and care teams via telemedicine visits. The Veterans Administration proved an annual savings of $6,500 per patient using telemedicine services while other telemedicine studies have shown a 50% reduction in emergency room visits and 90% reduction in overall hospitalizations of chronically-ill patients.
3. Improved Patient Outcomes
Convenience and access to care have proven to be key in maximizing patient engagement and compliance. Telemedicine facilitates high-touch, efficient care options for many patients who require close and frequent monitoring for prescription adherence, post-surgical care, chronic disease management and inpatient discharge instructions, etc. Johns Hopkins reported that medication nonadherence is one of the largest factors negatively affecting the health outcomes of our nation’s patient population. These type of issues may be easily avoided by implementing telemedicine services as recommended by the Office of the National Coordinator in their Health Information Technology Playbook.
4. Boost Patient Satisfaction and Engagement
Patient satisfaction is a key indicator for measuring the quality of healthcare provided. Beyond the importance of the actual patient satisfaction scores which help ensure optimal reimbursements and higher patient retention rates, a satisfied patient is more apt to be an engaged participant in their overall healthcare. Telemedicine has proven to increase patient satisfaction scores, and in turn, health outcomes. In a recent study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital, 68% of patients rated their telemedicine visits a 9 or above on a 10 point scale for exceeding their quality of care and convenience of access expectations. Another study published in the Annals of Vascular Surgery shows that telemedicine may significantly improve a patient’s satisfaction with postoperative care as well as their views on health and quality of life.
5. Improved Revenue
Convenient virtual care such as telemedicine services can translate into fewer no-show and cancellations which cost practices a great deal of time and money; ranging from 3 – 14% of total clinic income. Telemedicine facilitates a more efficient clinical schedule with increased billable time, and allows the transition of non-paid patient phone calls into revenue generating visits and virtual check-ins. In addition, the telemedicine model substantially reduces overhead costs per visit and often promotes improved staff productivity due to time savings.