In 2017, patients are becoming increasingly receptive to the idea of communicating with their doctors, surgeons, specialists, and other medical advisors using video conferencing software. A recent study by Software Advice indicated that 75% of survey respondents were interested in trying telemedicine. This innovative approach to health care offers many direct and measurable benefits to both patients and health care providers. When done correctly, telemedicine is one of the best ways for medical practices to improve their reach, streamline patient care, and reduce costs, and it’s also convenient for patients.
In this article, we outline some of the many opportunities that health care providers can leverage by implementing a telemedicine system that effectively serves their patients. These are just a few of the reasons why more and more physicians, hospitals, and clinics around the country are incorporating telemedicine into their healthcare practices – and why you should too.
Fewer Outpatient Centers and Fewer Expenses
Incorporating telemedicine into your office setting creates an excellent opportunity to save on real estate costs associated with running your practice, including a reduction in outpatient centers if your practice operates multiple locations. Many telehealth platforms also include built-in patient enrollment, scheduling, and billing features, potentially allowing you to save money on the support staff that would normally administer this paperwork.
Patient care clinics need to occupy space proportionate to the number of patients that visit the facility each day. The ability to conduct remote patient intakes and to serve patients over the phone or by video conference will reduce the number of daily visits to your practice, as well as reducing medical equipment costs accordingly. And quite possibly even enabling your practice to occupy a smaller footprint in the community despite its growing impact due to telemedicine.
Conversely, clinicians can work and conduct consultations from home, effectively expanding clinical practices to include later hours. The potential for cost savings is virtually limitless as hospitals and clinics incorporate telemedicine into their businesses.
Greater Area Reach & Expansion for Specialists
The availability of adequately trained specialists around the United States is one of the major barriers to improving patient care, but telehealth is allowing thousands to access physicians and specialists that they would otherwise never be able to engage with, simply due to geography. The ability to connect with patients outside your immediate geographic region is a significant boon for any health care provider, especially those who provide remote patient monitoring or specialist referral services.
Specialists have always had to cope with the tradeoffs that come with specialization. Telemedicine is using technology to connect healthcare providers with the people that need them more effectively, and that means that specialists can treat more patients.
Improved Patient Accessibility
The reverse perspective on a greater area reach for specialists is that it correspondingly increases the ease with which prospective or existing patients can access the medical professionals and specialists they need. Telemedicine allows someone living in rural Nebraska who requires a life-saving treatment or procedure to see and interact with a specialist in a major east coast university medical center that could provide the required cutting-edge care.
The most vulnerable patients in our society face numerous barriers that may prevent them presenting to a hospital or clinic. Enhancing their access to your services with telehealth solutions can significantly broaden your patient base. For example, medical appointments frequently require patients to book time off work, but some people can’t afford to miss a day. Additionally, many people are in primary caregiver roles for either a child or an elderly person, making it difficult, cumbersome, or impossible for them to travel to a medical clinic.
Telemedicine gives any person the chance to pick up a phone or sit down with a video conferencing software and meet with a medical professional to have their concerns addressed, without having to miss work or compromise the care of a loved one.
Streamlined Access to Care for Nursing Home Patients
Nursing home patients and the elderly are some of the most frequent users of public and private healthcare services in the United States. With an aging population, it is critical that our investments in new health technologies reflect our society’s growing need to provide a high standard of care for the elderly.
Folks in assisted living, or who live in nursing homes, may require more frequent medical attention or consultation, and those with limited mobility are already inconvenienced heavily by the expense and hassle associated with commissioning an ambulance service to and from appointments with both specialists and primary care givers.
Telemedicine will enable nursing home patients and other elderly patients with mobility issues to more easily access medical care without the difficulty of arranging costly and unpleasant ambulance transportation to the hospital.
Improved Patient Convenience
Want higher patient satisfaction scores? Make office visits more time-efficient. New research from the Harvard Medical School has calculated that, on average, each visit to the doctor in the United States costs the patient 121 minutes of their time, amounting to an average dollar value of $43 per visit. What’s worse, researchers concluded, 37 minutes are spent traveling to the doctor’s office and just over an hour is spent in the waiting room, leaving patients with just around 20 minutes with their care provider.
In view of the above, it’s clear that telehealth is going to produce some big changes in the overall satisfaction of the patients at your hospital or clinic.
Telemedicine will never fully replace inpatient care and hospital visits, but this innovative area of medicine is already improving access to care for millions and helping hospitals, private practices, and inpatient clinics treat more patients, and save on costs. Make the transition to telemedicine at your practice and start reaping the benefits of increased efficiency, expanded geographic reach, and higher patient satisfaction scores today.