The challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic are making health practitioners, government organizations, and patients take a fresh look at the benefits of telemedicine. The US government is revisiting its virtual care policies and removing barriers to adoption. Seeing the current trends, Forrester analysts expect the number of telehealth interactions to reach 1 billion by the end of 2020.
As the telehealth industry approaches a turning point, healthcare practitioners should get ready to satisfy the growing demand for telehealth services and meet patients’ expectations. At the same time, patients are increasingly lured by remote healthcare services due to their convenience, efficiency, and affordability. Yet there’s much more to say about telemedicine’s benefits. In today’s article, we’ll cover such advantages as:
- easy and fast access to specialists
- reduced risk of contracting diseases
- no waiting rooms or lines
- smart chronic disease management
- no need to take time off from work
- improved patient outcomes
But those aren’t the only ways in which remote healthcare improves practitioners’ work and patients’ satisfaction. Read the article to learn the top 15 benefits and what stands behind each of them.
The benefits of telemedicine for providers
Learn about the benefits of virtual healthcare that can boost a healthcare practice, granting patient satisfaction increase, easier medical practice management and less administrative routine.
#1 Increase patient satisfaction
In a good number of cases, video consultations can substitute in-person visits without any loss in service quality. A patient survey conducted by CVS MinuteClinic showed up to 99 percent satisfaction with telehealth visits. You can improve your care delivery by offering:
- timesavers for your patients. Virtual visits allow your patients to avoid travel hassles and reduce the risk of missing an appointment. Automatic reminders, convenient rescheduling, and clear cancellation policies will help your patients manage their time efficiently and reduce no-shows.
- faster access to care. Telemedicine offers your patients an easy way to seek urgent care or get a quick consultation. It allows them to reach out to you via safe instant messaging instead of waiting until you’re available for an in-person visit. And by doing so, they can get back to your advice or prescriptions at any time just by reading previous chat messages.
- better patient engagement. Using telemedicine software, your patients can get more frequent contact with you and have greater engagement and ownership of their health. Patients can use telemedicine software to conveniently report health metrics, get timely explanations of lab results, and alert you when they need care before their symptoms get worse. This leads to better patient outcomes and improves overall satisfaction with your service.
According to research by the American Medical Association, telemedicine is ideal for conversation-based specializations like psychiatry and incorporates well into the workflows of cardiologists, radiologists, allergists, gastroenterologists, and emergency room physicians. If you still have doubts, ask your colleagues who have already used telemedicine about its benefits.
#2 Efficient medical practice management
In an interview with Medical Economics, Tabassum Salam, vice president of education for the American College of Physicians, advises practitioners to try to spot natural transition points where in-person care can be swapped out for telemedicine care. It’s likely that after you incorporate remote care into your practice, you’ll see the following benefits:
- More patients in a day. With telemedicine software, you become more flexible and can interact with more patients without increasing your work hours. Some practitioners manage to hop between in-person and video appointments or take short emergency video calls between scheduled clinical visits. Others prefer to cluster chunks of time to separate in-person and telecare services. You can try both approaches and find what works best for you.
- Efficient and reachable specialists. If you run a multi-unit practice, some doctors might have to travel between locations during the day or dedicate particular days to different locations. By delivering telemedicine services, you can allow these doctors to work from one office and be equally available via remote calls for all patients regardless of where they are.
- Minimum of non-billable work. Short telemedicine visits can help you reduce between-visit phone conversations with your patients. Instead of calling you for a bit of quick free-of-charge advice, patients will be able to book a five-minute virtual meeting, which will help you properly document your service and get rewarded for those small interactions.
Primary care physicians can leverage video calls for first contact appointments with patients who have undiagnosed health concerns to route them to the right type of care. Virtual appointments also work well for routine follow-ups, pre- and post-op appointments, and check-ins with patients who have chronic diseases.
#3 Lower administrative burden
The 2019 State of the Independent Practice Industry Report by Kareo shows 70 percent of practitioners admit that mounting paperwork is affecting the quality of their care delivery. Implementing telemedicine can help you free up your time to focus on clinical tasks and communication with patients.
- Hassle-free scheduling. As more patients opt for virtual visits and receive access to convenient scheduling options via apps and website widgets, your schedulers will have less work and you can even employ fewer administrative staff.
- Better patient attendance. Patients who don’t have to travel to your office but can access care from the comfort of their own home are less likely to be late for or miss appointments. Booking confirmations with links to a virtual meeting room and automatic reminders sent by your telemedicine software will minimize no-shows.
- Simple payment and refund flow. Telemedicine comes with no administrative burden, as specialized software allows you to leverage online payments and automated refunds. This ensures you always get fairly paid for the telemedicine services you provide and can check records of any transactions at any time.
When adding telemedicine services to your practice, you’ll need to introduce some administrative changes. There may be bottlenecks in your workflow that you have long wanted to remove but kept putting off. Launching a telemedicine service can be your ideal opportunity to rethink and modernize your operations as a whole.
#4 Security and regulatory compliance
The Center for Connected Health Policy provides reports on laws and policies requiring insurers to reimburse healthcare providers for virtual care services. Recent changes in US federal legislation allow Medicare and Medicaid health insurance programs to extend the list of telehealth services they cover. However, for smooth cooperation with state and private insurers, you should document remote interactions with your patients securely and systematically.
- Trouble-free insurance audits. Telemedicine software allows you to conveniently store and access call recordings, messages, and documents for every patient. This removes uncertainty from situations when Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurance company sends you an audit request, as you’ll be able to quickly collect and provide information on any given claim at the payer’s demand.
- HIPAA-compliant service. Software solutions for telemedicine provide you with tools for secure video calls and messaging. When choosing a telehealth vendor, you should check if they encrypt data and use secure cloud storage to protect private information from leaks and unauthorized access. This may help you prevent legal issues and fines. By having your own telemedicine software, you can speed up communication with your patients and make connecting with you as easy as using Skype or WhatsApp while not imposing any privacy risks.
With the right telemedicine software, you can establish solid internal protocols for providing virtual care and maintain regulatory compliance. Additionally, you should keep track of the latest changes in legislation and regulations in your state and consult your patients on what telemedicine service their insurance covers.
The telemedicine benefits aimed at patient’s needs
Today telemedicine is capable of addressing a wider spectrum of tasks than practice management and regulatory tasks. Let’s find out how telemedicine solutions meet patient’s needs.
#1 Easy and fast access to specialists
Many physicians are using telemedicine. Hence, patients can always find a specialist to get a telemedicine consultation. As an online service, telemedicine is available from any internet-connected device. Videoconferencing is more convenient, faster, and easier than walking into a doctor’s office. Telemedicine provides the following advantages for patients:
- Enables medical access for people in rural areas. Telemedicine is available for people in rural areas, so there’s no need to travel to a city clinic to get a consultation.
- Provides medical access for people without health insurance. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 35.7 million Americans were uninsured as of 2019. Still, they can book an online appointment and get treatment.
- Round-the-clock care for babies and children. Often, children feel sick in the middle of the night and need urgent care. With telemedicine, parents can quickly get advice from a telemedicine doctor.
#2 Reduced risk of contracting diseases
Every time a patient goes to a public space, they increase the risk of catching an airborne disease. Since remote healthcare allows patients to stay at home, this risk is eliminated. Besides avoiding in-person communication with a doctor, telemedicine avoids being around other people on the way to the clinic. In this way, telemedicine provides patients with quarantine-friendly treatment.
Reveal the eight telemedicine features that improve the patient experience, and learn how telemedicine platforms ensure each of them.
#3 No waiting rooms or lines
Every visit to a clinic can involve spending a significant amount of time in a waiting room. And it’s not just tedious. For patients with heart failure, hypertension, or other health issues, it can be arduous and even risky for health. Sometimes, it’s too crowdy in lines, and people are fainting amid crammed conditions. Remote healthcare providers can protect their patients from such difficulties and risks. Booking a telemedicine appointment allows patients to get a consultation at a specific time and without needing to leave their home.
#4 Cost-saving and profit-making
Many physicians provide telemedicine services from their homes, avoiding substantial expenditures on office rent. Such savings translate into lower prices for patients. Also, with the help of 24/7 online booking services supported by telemedicine platforms, physicians can increase the number of patients they see. Patients don’t have to wait for appointment registration hours. They can just book a meeting with a doctor anytime they need it.
Attract more patients who require your expertise on a remote basis by shifting your practice online with an online booking solution.
#5 Smart chronic disease management
Telemonitoring (one of the three types of telemedicine) delivers an improved experience for patients with chronic diseases, unpinning them from in-clinic oversight. With the help of wearable devices (biosensors, smartwatches, fitness trackers, electrocardiogram monitors, etc.) that collect vital data from patients, physicians can release patients from in-patient treatment.
Through the gateway, all data is transmitted to a cloud server. Using special health apps, a doctor can get access to data from the server and track health indicators. In such a simple way, a doctor receives an accurate health data history. With more precise records, physicians can prescribe the most efficient course of treatment.
#6 Secured communication
Innovations in digital healthcare ensure protected medical record storage and data exchange. Patients can have constant access to a doctor and health data via telemedicine platform software. Telemedicine platforms that comply with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allow patients and physicians safely communicate via video and messaging and be online 27/4.
#7 Automated payment flow
Full-featured telemedicine platforms support convenient payment flows, reducing work for practitioners. Healthcare providers can manage their payments with an automated online payment system, and their patients can easily pay for appointments with credit cards.
Furthermore, all payment history is stored in one account, so financial reports can be provided to tax agencies without hassle.
#8 Fewer no-shows
Physicians with offices are familiar with the situation when a patient misses an appointment. When this happens, instead of providing healthcare services, practitioners waste precious time. And usually there’s no reimbursement. Physicians can protect themselves from no-shows using telemedicine platforms. Within their accounts, doctors can set up refund rules for patients who cancel their appointment. Such a refund system works for patients too. If for some reason a doctor cancels, the patient gets their money back.
#9 Reduced transportation time
Traveling to a doctor’s office is time-consuming. On average, it takes 34 minutes for a patient to access in-clinic healthcare services in the US. For patients with chronic diseases who require regular examinations, trips to the doctor result in tens of hours of wasted time every year. Add to that travel costs and traffic jams. However, remote healthcare allows patients to eliminate such nuisances.
Unlock new patient and healthcare opportunities by starting your own telemedicine practice. Take the first step to launch your online practice with our ExpertBox guide.
#10 No need to take time off from work
Patients don’t have to be distracted from their business when using telemedicine. They can set a meeting with a doctor before or after work, or even over lunch. This is especially helpful when people need an urgent consultation but can’t afford a day off from work. The same works for students who are hitting the books.
#11 Improved patient outcomes
Some patients forget about regular health examinations. Telemedicine platforms provide healthcare practitioners with services to easily follow up with patients. Physicians can reach out to their patients with scheduled notifications and reminders of regular appointments. If patients need an extraordinary consultation, they can use an online calendar to book a meeting with their doctor. In this way, patients always get their care in a timely fashion.
Ready to leverage the benefits of telemedicine?
If you want to implement telemedicine into your practice, take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to successfully get started with telemedicine. You’ll learn about all the opportunities presented by telemedicine, potential risks to be aware of, and best practices for implementing a telemedicine program.