The rising use of telehealth over the course of this year has signaled a loud and clear message across the healthcare landscape: telehealth is the future of patient/provider interactions.
However, how telehealth works and for what purpose varies widely among providers. Some prefer to use virtual visits only when necessary or for routine appointments such as checkups and pre-ops, while other providers use telehealth throughout their treatment process.
If you’ve started to assess the possibilities of offering telehealth but are not yet sure whether it’s right for your practice, here are 5 key things to consider.CC
1. Consumer-centric industry shifts
As emphasis on value-based care and high-deductible health plans continues to increase, patients are seeking more than just the kind of care they need – they’re shopping for the best possible match. They’re researching the reviews and accomplishments of providers, comparing costs of care and searching for the most convenient appointment location.
What could be more convenient than going to a medical appointment without leaving the house (or office)? With 81% of patients being more likely to select a medical provider who offers telemedicine over one who does not1, telemedicine can not only give your practice more flexibility, but potentially attract more patients.
It’s important to be competitive and to position your practice for success in an increasingly consumer-focused market, in addition to offering quality care.
2. Your patient population
While industry trends are good indicators of how to evolve your practice, so is your patient population.
Do you mostly treat elderly patients? Do you typically see a mix of young to senior adults in a day? Is your specialty something that needs to be done hands-on, or can you provide consultative conversations without an in-person visit?
These are critical questions to consider as you assess the opportunity to offer telehealth. You need to be confident that this kind of care is well-received by your patients and that it can uphold your standards of care.
If your patients are mostly older adults, telehealth could be a great way to routinely check in with them regarding their treatment plans vs. requiring them to come in for in-person visits. Patients who are younger may be more engaged in the treatment suggested simply because it is convenient and technology-driven interactions are familiar to them.
Telehealth can also provide a way for health-conscious individuals – those who are highly aware of the risk of contracting COVID-19 or even the flu – to receive the care they need without having to leave their home. The more you consider the needs and habits of your average patient, the easier you can identify where telehealth best fits into their care journey.
3. Practice processes
Another factor to help determine if telehealth is right for you is to consider your practice processes. From patient intake and scheduling to how you prepare for and conduct each visit, the right telehealth strategy can simplify and streamline your daily operations.
When patients complete their forms online, they’re better prepared to be on time for their in-person or virtual appointment. When you’re able to review documents within your telehealth portal instead of relying on paper forms, there’s less friction in the pre-appointment steps needed to prepare for seeing a patient.
Similarly, telehealth can make the tasks of your team easier by better organizing patient claims, payments and prescription details. When everything is one place, there’s less time spent by all parties sharing or finding key information – and more time spent focused on the root cause of each patient’s health needs.
4. Potential ROI
The next aspect of telehealth to consider is the possible ROI it could provide your practice, both financially and in terms of patient outcomes.
Many factors influence financial ROI. Upfront, there are the costs of purchasing and implementing your telehealth platform of choice, time to train staff and ensuring your practice insurance covers telehealth. In the long-term, investing in telehealth may result in lower costs to maintain your physical practice, reduced no-shows and potentially increase billable hours as a result of flexible scheduling.
Additionally, telehealth can help increase patient retention and satisfaction, while also reducing acuity levels.
5. Acting vs reacting
The final indicator to determine if telehealth is right for you is the choice between leading the way now or mimicking the success of others later. Telehealth is currently growing in popularity but not yet the norm. However, that’s where telehealth is headed; it’s set to become a standard part of providing healthcare.
The opportunity to help shape telehealth is still available, but as it is more widely adopted, there will be a transition from defining standard processes and metrics of success to simply adhering to what those are.
To start offering telehealth now is about more than giving patients a physically distant option or creating a bit of scheduling flexibility, it is the time to decide if you want to leave a lasting impact on healthcare – and your own practice.
Finding the right partner for your practice’s telehealth strategy
Ready to implement telehealth in your practice? Take the first step to establishing a strong telehealth strategy by choosing your virtual visit platform. Learn more about our new telehealth application today!
1 “Should You Offer Telemedicine Services? Patients Weigh In” , Lisa Hedges, Software Advice, Inc, August 5, 2019, https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/should-you-offer-telemedicine-services/
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