Do you know just how much the field of telemedicine is booming? A May 2020 report by McKinsey and Company projects U.S. telehealth spending to increase from $3 billion to $250 billion per year. With the recent addition of COVID-friendly care, telehealth hardware, software, and corresponding services, 60% of healthcare leaders credited telehealth services when asked which initiatives helped most amid the pandemic.
Telemedicine’s time has come. There are many positives, including improving patient access, reducing costs, raising patient and provider satisfaction, and even improving patient outcomes. Here are six benefits to practicing telemedicine:
1. Increases Convenience and Patients Seen
There are a number of wins for patients and providers. Remote medicine can accommodate underserved areas, patients with limited mobility, or patients without access to transportation. It’s especially helpful for older patients and eliminates traveling, parking, and waiting. It’s safer for those more at risk to COVID. And it’s quicker for patients and providers. Accenture tells us that telemedicine visits are typically around less than ten minutes, shorter than the time required for in-office visits, so it frees up time to see more patients. As an added bonus, preventive visits are also more accessible, ultimately making longer-term outcomes better.
2. Generates More Profits
Right now, doctors can skip some of the costs of cleaning, overhead, and staffing, and still collect the same insurance payments for telehealth visits as in-office ones. In fact, the May 2020 issue of HFMA Financial Sustainability Report notes that a physician’s revenue on a four-hour telehealth block was 22% higher than revenue on a similar office block. Generally, insurance companies don’t cover follow-up phone calls, which can be another important part of the patient care continuum. However, follow-up through a video telemedicine call enables doctors to be reimbursed for this time. It all adds up to greater profits.
Note: Make sure you’re coding these calls correctly so that you don’t miss out on revenue here.
3. Boosts Productivity
Telehealth programs can decrease staffing and supply costs by as much as 10%. Staff that’s not needed for the calls (or for checking patients in) can focus on other work. Staff that IS needed can maximize their skills. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners can handle these appointments to free physicians up for in-person visits, so all professionals can optimize their licenses. Office space can also improve productivity. Providers can redesign their interiors to use space differently since they don’t require as much. This space can be repurposed for other doctors, or even repurposed as revenue-generating subleases.
4. Increases Hours for No Additional Cost
Telemedicine hours are much more flexible and can be conducted outside of traditional office hours without requiring additional staff or overhead. They dovetail well with reduced hours due to COVID. If you’re cutting back on the number of patients you’re seeing to protect their health, you can fit remote medicine appointments in to supplement.
5. Decreases Cancellations and No-Shows
Last-minute cancellations and patients that don’t show up to their appointment definitely hurt the bottom line and make patient outcomes less favorable. With remote medicine appointments, much of this is eliminated. It’s so much easier to hop on a call because you can skip the drive and take less time off from work.
6. Keeps Your Patients, and Keeps Them Happy
It’s so important to keep your patients happy. Offering this service, especially in the midst of all of the other convenience-centered competition that’s cropping up, can improve your chances of retaining and engaging your patients. It’s a better experience because they can avoid waiting room waits, as well as the COVID risks associated with in-person visits.
Bottom line? There’s no downside (but plenty of advantages) to telemedicine implementation in your practice. Even as the pandemic subsides, this option will be a welcome one to so many patients for its convenience alone. As the technology continues to evolve, it should attract even more favorable reviews from patients and providers alike. If you’ve used telemedicine, how is it working for you?
Are you ready to take the next step with telemedicine? Give Ironmark a call today and we can help.