Telemedicine: A Win-Win for Patients and Providers

Telemedicine: A Win-Win for Patients and Providers

It is very rare to hear a person say they are excited about a medical appointment. Quite frankly, routine and follow-up doctor visits are a big inconvenience, requiring that people take time off work, excuse children from school and have to arrange for childcare or care for an elderly family member while they are away. For people who live in rural settings, it may be necessary to travel long distances, causing added scheduling headaches. These visits become even more annoying when there is a long wait time or when the actual doctor interaction is just a few minutes long. Even the simple act of entering a hospital or medical office waiting room may expose you to germs and illnesses.

Increasingly, the solution to these and other problems is telemedicine.

Telemedicine is a method for medical providers to communicate with patients in the privacy of their own homes, work environments, medical facilities or anywhere they have access to internet connection. Using HIPAA-compliant software, patient data can be transmitted securely, allowing doctors to provide clinical information directly, but virtually, to patients.

Becker Hospital Review has released these amazing statistics about telemedicine:

  • An estimated 7 million patients will use telemedicine in 2018 and the entire telehealth market will grow by 14.3% by 2020
  • Market value of telehealth is estimated to reach $36.2 billion by 2020

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is a larger umbrella term for the entire scope of healthcare delivery. In addition to virtual clinical services, telehealth includes the delivery of continuing medical education, medical training and more. Telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably.

Patient Benefits of Telemedicine

Americans want telemedicine. The patient benefits of telemedicine are obvious. By removing the need for face-to-face office visits for certain medical cases, the hassles of traveling to and from appointments are minimized. Examples of telemedicine visits include:

  • Ongoing monitoring of illnesses such as congestive heart failure or diabetes, resulting in earlier identification and treatment of problems and ultimately reducing hospital admissions or readmissions
  • Regular reminders of medication schedules
  • Follow-up visits for conditions such as allergies, bronchitis, flu, arthritis, sprains, sports injuries, depression and more
  • Real-time video conferencing so doctors can talk to patients one-on-one about their conditions and actually see the patient
  • Support for preventative care measures such as smoking cessation and weight loss techniques

Provider Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine is also a great benefit for medical personnel. Cancellations and missed appointments are not only a nuisance for the office, they also signify lost revenue and empty time slots that could have been used by another patient. It is often much easier for patients to take a few minutes on a video chat than driving across town (or across counties in rural areas). When patients keep their appointments, doctors experience increased revenue.

There are other benefits of telemedicine for doctors:

  • Capacity for an increase in patient load without overwhelming the doctor
  • Increased opportunities to provide better monitoring and follow-up of conditions to improve patient health
  • Ability to compete with retail health clinics
  • Capability of reaching a larger patient audience, especially in rural communities

Telemedicine vs. Telephone Conversations

Telemedicine differs from simple telephone conversations because the technology allows for providers to get paid for the medical advice they are offering. While reimbursement for telemedicine will vary from state-to-state, many telemedicine visits are billed at the same amount as regular office visits. In fact, 29 states have passed laws mandating that health plans cover telemedicine, according to Becker Hospital Review.

Telemedicine Won’t Replace Office Visits

Telemedicine is not a complete substitute for face-to-face office visits. Illnesses must be initially diagnosed by a physician in a clinical setting before telemedicine can be implemented. However, remote consultations for follow-up and maintenance of known conditions have been shown to be safe and effective when used for the right patients.

Telemedicine for Ophthalmology

Incorporating telemedicine into your ophthalmology practice could help ophthalmologists monitor the progression of eye diseases such as macular degeneration or diagnose eye conditions such as pink eye. Medication reminder telemedicine visits could improve the effectiveness of glaucoma management techniques. Advanced technologies for digital imaging through telemedicine are on the rise to help detect serious vision conditions such as diabetic retinopathy. Early diagnosis and treatment can help preserve vision.

Beyond Telemedicine: Improve Your Revenue

Telemedicine is a potential way to help improve your practice’s revenue and improve your overall patient experience. Joining a Management Service Organization (MSO) is another method from which practices of all sizes can benefit. Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, offers a Management Services Organization (MSO) that has partnered with a full range of medical services, product suppliers and marketing firms to provide discounted rates through large group volume pricing. Our partners can help your practice plan, develop and implement a successful telemedicine program for your practice.

To learn more about joining an MSO to better serve your practice, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, today.