Telemedicine delivers substantial benefits, such as improved access to care, reduced healthcare costs, and higher patient retention. However, it also requires significant upfront investments in new equipment, technology, recruiting, and staff training.
Investing is risky, but if you know how to profitably invest in telemedicine, you will not hesitate to begin offering your services online.
To build a profitable and sustainable telemedicine program that meets all federal and industry-specific regulations, you need to know how to:
- measure the tangible and intangible benefits of telemedicine
- use technology to successfully and easily transition to telemedicine
- evaluate and increase your telemedicine program's ROI
So let’s find out how to do that.
What is ROI in healthcare
Return on Investment (ROI) is a percentage that compares your profit and cost.
The basic ROI formula is:
In healthcare, the ROI concept can be modified depending on who will benefit and whether or not that benefit is financial.
For example, clinics may invest in IT, medical devices, and equipment. The clinic benefits from investments if a positive ROI is expressed in higher clinical revenue. However, when these savings result in patient treatment at lower costs, then patients benefit from the positive ROI.
For healthcare organizations, both options can be considered a positive ROI, even when a clinic doesn't immediately get its money back. You attract more patients to your facility and improve your clinic’s reputation when patients are treated faster and at lower costs.
Why you should estimate your telemedicine program’s ROI
It's essential to review your telemedicine program's effectiveness from preparation and pre-encounter to post-visit and follow-up care. Your review will give you a broader picture of what upfront costs each phase requires and how you can improve your telemedicine services.
Assessing your telemedicine program's financial return can lead to your healthcare business growing. It also allows you to effectively market your remote medical services, hire the right medical personnel, and know what technology best suits your organization's needs.
Your telemedicine program's return on investment can be measured in different ways, but here are some essential benefits you can reckon on while analyzing your telemedicine program's ROI:
- lower costs due to reduced patient cancellations and no-shows
- increased patient outreach due to reduced travel costs
- continuous, uninterrupted patient care (especially for individuals who cannot travel long distances to see a doctor for a quick follow-up appointment)
- increased healthcare providers' professionalism thanks to convenient and effective cooperation with medical specialists across geographical borders
Evaluate your telehealth ROI step by step
Telehealth ROI can vary depending on a clinic's size, type, capacity, and billing model. A telemedicine program’s ROI in your specific clinic can depend on:
- patient volume — the number of patients coming into your facility
- patient retention level — the number of patients coming back to your facility
- hardware and software expenses
- staffing levels — the number of employees engaged in the telemedicine program
With those factors in mind, you can calculate your telemedicine program’s ROI by following these steps:
1. Set goals
You need to establish what measurable goals you want to achieve over a certain period of time. Your goals should be specific and shaped by your clinic's size, and capacity.
Define precise metrics to calculate your ROI, such as the number of new patients your telehealth program engages during a particular timeframe. For example, over one month, your facility might aim to increase new patient acquisition from rural areas by at least 10%. In that case, you would determine your ROI by looking at how many new patients were engaged in virtual appointments. If you reach a 10% boost or higher, you would have a positive ROI.
2. Measure hardware and software costs
You need to evaluate your soft and hard costs from a technology perspective.
Hard costs are the cost of supplies, utilities, and tech support. A good example of hard costs might be the use of electricity and gas. Suppose a healthcare provider practices telemedicine twice a week, doesn't travel to the clinic, and doesn't occupy office space. Your facility can then anticipate a significant reduction in electricity and gas use as well as other hard costs.
Soft costs are related to employee work, such as salaries and medical equipment. Employees can work more effectively with automated reminders, payments, advanced scheduling, and booking and dedicate more time to patients. Furthermore, virtual appointments reduce the number of medical supplies, such as gloves, disposable face masks, and single-use medical devices, needed.
Wondering how much it will cost you to implement a telemedicine program in your clinic? See what expenses you should account for and how to easily plan your budget.
3. Review tangible and intangible benefits
The tangible benefits of telemedicine are tied to your specified goals. For example, assume your key objectives were:
- Improved care access in rural areas. You expected to increase your patient coverage in remote areas by 20% and reached that goal, a tangible benefit.
- Decreased costs. By using all-in-one telemedicine software, such as ExpertBox, that supports messaging, patient intake, and high-quality video, you didn't need to juggle multiple tools to run your clinical practice, so you saved money on extra software.
- Reduced readmissions. Readmissions can be expensive for a clinic since they negatively affect patient satisfaction and health outcomes. They also increase the chance that patients choose another facility next time. After implementing your telemedicine program, you reached your goal of an approximately 10% decrease of readmitted patients within 30 days of discharge, another tangible benefit.
Intangible benefits of telemedicine cannot be expressed objectively and quantified but significantly affect a telemedicine practice’s ROI. Examples of intangible benefits are:
- Better patient health outcomes. Monetary gains are not immediately expressed but pay off long term.
- Higher physician productivity. When all healthcare specialists within a practice use the same telemedicine technology with a shared digital working space, they can more easily manage appointments, set schedules, and communicate with patients. As a result, both staff productivity and your clinical revenue increase.
- More satisfied medical personnel. Telemedicine implementation reduces your clinical personnel’s administrative burden.
- Better communication between patients and healthcare providers. Telemedicine software enhances physician-patient relationships by providing both providers and patients with instant access to medical records and the ability to easily communicate when necessary.
Top 5 ways to increase your telemedicine program’s ROI
Before starting a telemedicine practice, look at some proven implementation methods to maximize your financial return.
#1 Integrate patient intake into your workflows
Virtual care may not be the right fit for every patient. However, when you use technology that includes patient intake, you can evaluate and decide which care option is the most appropriate for every patient. This practice reduces your practitioners’ administrative burden, so they devote more time to their patients.
Physicians can create a questionnaire and share it with patients once they book an appointment to determine if a virtual care option is right for them.
Intake forms let patients share essential information before the visit so physicians can properly address their needs. They help healthcare providers decrease the number of dissatisfied patients, reduce the number of patients who leave, increase patient loyalty, and improve patients’ overall access to medical care.
#2 Let technology overcome staff shortages
Clinics may often deal with medical staff burnout due to high stress and long work hours. Widespread burnout may lead to losing great physicians and longer patient wait times.
Telemedicine software can help physicians optimize their schedules and manage their workload according to their availability and patients' expectations. Healthcare providers can easily substitute in-person visits with online appointments when appropriate or supplement physical clinic capacity with virtual capacity when the patient doesn't need to be seen in person. Through telemedicine, physicians can increase visit volume, attract more patients,and increase the clinic's overall revenue.
Except for scheduling, advanced telemedicine software supports automated payments. A front desk can send customizable invoices to patients, easily access all financial document history, view and download receipts, and set different prices depending on the service provided.
#3 Reduce staffing costs
You may spend a lot of money recruiting full-time healthcare specialists and asking employment agencies for hiring help. Telemedicine allows you to hire part-time medical experts who have state medical licensure and are permitted to provide virtual care. With video conferencing and instant messaging, physicians can monitor patients' health remotely when in-office visits are impossible.
#4 Create a seamless patient journey — from intake to post treatment
If a healthcare provider doesn't have a complete picture of a patient's medical history, this can lead to an inaccurate diagnosis or repeated lab tests, which can increase your expenses. Diagnostic errors may also lead to dissatisfied patients and decreased patient retention rates.
Telemedicine software helps create a seamless patient journey, efficient cooperation between colleagues across specialties, and a secure way to virtually share patients' data while avoiding losing essential medical details. You can effortlessly do that with integrated communication tools that cover the gaps in the patient journey and result in higher patient adherence and better outcomes.
Clinics that do care about the quality of a patient’s digital journey are more likely to increase patient satisfaction and loyalty. Embrace these practical marketing tips for improving communication between your patients and medical staff.
#5 Embrace virtual care to attract new patients
Virtual care can expand the capacity of your healthcare teams by overcoming medical staff shortages and increasing your clinic’s reach. Sara Vaezy, MPH, MHA, chief digital strategy and business development officer at Providence St. Joseph Health in Seattle, noted a greater than fourfold improvement in staffing ratio by letting patients remotely input their indicators.
Furthermore, to improve medical care, reduce healthcare spending, and maximize comfort, telemedicine offers convenient, online booking 24/7, automated billing, a chat feature to communicate with physicians, and automatic appointment confirmations and reminders.
Ensure your telemedicine implementation is as successful as you want. Look at the top 7 tips to make virtual visits stand out.
How the right clinic software can maximize your telemedicine program’s ROI
If you follow the steps above, you can improve healthcare quality in your organization, reach patients living in rural communities, and reduce staffing costs. However, you need reliable software to maximize your remote medical practice’s financial return and get the most out of your telemedicine program.
ExpertBox empowers medical practitioners to deliver high-quality virtual care to their patients. It provides a comprehensive solution for caregivers to streamline medical delivery through:
- advanced scheduling
- appointment management
- automated billing
- secure HD video and clear audio
- HIPAA compliance
As you can see, telemedicine program implementation can reduce healthcare system costs and improve care quality. Request a demo to see how ExpertBox software features can help your clinic save costs, automate your staff’s daily administrative tasks, and bring in and retain more satisfied patients.
Before starting a telemedicine practice, look at some proven implementation methods to maximize your financial return.
- Integrate patient intake into your workflows
- Let technology overcome staff shortages
- Reduce staffing costs
- Create a seamless patient journey — from intake to post-treatment
- Embrace virtual care to attract new patients