Telehealth, the ability to meet with a medical provider virtually, is becoming increasingly popular due to advancements in technology. We’re also seeing a rise in telehealth during the global pandemic of COVID-19, as people become more wary about leaving their homes and increasing their odds of exposure to the virus. The benefits of telehealth for healthcare providers include expanded reach and easier access, that we will go over in this article.
Telemedicine is able to overcome geographic hurdles to healthcare. People in rural communities that are underserved have an especially hard time being seen by a healthcare provider. When they are in need of specialist services, that barrier becomes even greater. By using telemedicine, healthcare providers are able to access patients— no matter how far out in the country they live. This exponentially improves the quality of care and life for patients in underserved communities.
Using telehealth services can increase access to healthcare by decreasing the distance and travel time between patients and providers. This is another benefit of patients who live in underserved areas. Healthcare providers are able to access patients that may be homebound or have difficulties finding transportation with the help of telemedicine as well.
Increased quality of care
Telemedicine also has a hand in improving the quality of care. Recent studies show that telemedicine patients had:
• 38% fewer hospital admissions
• 31% fewer hospital re-admissions
• 63% more likely to spend fewer days in the hospital
• More engaged in their healthcare
It’s important that providers have good relationships with their patients and telemedicine can help facilitate that. We believe that telemedicine should complement in-person care, not completely replace it. Telemedicine can allow providers to check in on patients or answer any post-care questions without the need to schedule an in-person visit. This kind of availability will increase patient satisfaction while allowing a strong relationship between patient and provider to grow. Patients love the convenience and flexibility of being able to get real-time care with their providers.
By increasing efficiency of care and reducing the expenses associated with transporting patients from location to location, telemedicine reduces the cost of healthcare, thus, boosting revenue. Telehealth also has the advantage of being less time-consuming for the patient and the provider. This gives the provider more time to work with more patients and capture more billable hours.
Reduced practice overhead
Unlike the hospital systems that are expensive, telehealth applications don’t cost too much to implement. What’s more, the cost of a telehealth visit is much less than a traditional in-person visit. Statistics show that the average telehealth visit is $79, compared to an in-person doctor’s office visit of $146. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says they save nearly $87 every time a telehealth visit replaces an in-person visit. By increasing efficiency and helping to keep patients out of the hospital, studies have shown that telemedicine had 19 percent savings over traditional inpatient care costs.
No shows and last minute appointment cancellations are big money wasters for medical practices. Since it’s easier to get to telehealth appointments because the patient does not have to leave their house, they are less likely to be “no shows.” Even if a patient does not immediately show up to their telehealth appointment, the provider can call them and get them quickly on the video chat instead of having to worry about them needing the time to drive in and having to reschedule the appointment.
Increased practice efficiency
Telehealth plays a role in increasing the clinical workflow efficiency. It helps create a quicker prioritization of care, triaging cases and improving communication by easily capturing, storing and using patient data. These tools can help facilitate performance improvements at a practice and increase patient satisfaction.
Telemedicine allows providers some flexibility in their schedules. Does the practice want to keep traditional hours or offer extended hours? What about weekend hours? This can all be done via telemedicine without requiring the office to be physically staffed.
Increased provider satisfaction
Telemedicine makes meeting with patients a lot easier. This can facilitate a better work-life balance for providers. This can allow providers to work from home part of the time and the ability to see patients outside of traditional office hours. Being able to answer patient questions or concerns in real-time remotely can lead to an increase in satisfaction for providers knowing that they are able to be there for their patients.
Learn more about the benefits of telehealth for providers
If you would like more information about the benefits of telehealth, we would love to have you sign up for our fundamentals course by clicking here. The course goes over everything you need to know about telehealth, from the history, to the benefits to the licensing and credentialing.