Telehealth, commonly called telemedicine, is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing markets in the healthcare industry. In fact, it’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 18% by 2020. In addition, Medicare has changed their mind and now considers telehealth a patient-facing encounter which means it can contribute to your overall reporting requirements under the MIPS payment track of the Quality Payment Program. And if those two reasons aren’t quite enough to make you get on board, CMS will now begin paying incentives to providers who have implemented telehealth services for their practice (more to come on that). All that aside, here are the five reasons you should be adding telehealth to your practice in the coming year.
1. Staying competitive in the market. When 84% of healthcare executives state that telemedicine is important to their organization, you might want to join the club. In fact, 52% of those same providers thought it was very important to their organization. As technology continues to have an impact on the healthcare industry, telehealth falls right in line. When it comes to being the provider of choice, there are many circumstances where a patient may prefer to see a provider who offers telehealth services. For instance, if a patient lives in a rural area and traveling to the doctor’s office creates an unnecessary burden, using a practice that offers telehealth would be ideal. At the same time, it could simply be a patient’s work schedule that gets in the way. In the age where millennials are moving into the workforce, seeing a doctor via telehealth would be perfect for the fast-paced lifestyles they are used to. This is especially true for simple visits like prescription refills or more common illnesses. The patient/doctor relationship is important, but if the convenience outweighs the loyalty, you’ll be seeing a shift in patient preferences.
2. Access to Care. Turns out that patients care more about having access to care than personal interactions with the doctor. In fact, almost 80% of patients just want to get the care they need and aren’t worried about whether or not they shake a doctor’s hand. With the onset of Facetime and SnapChat, video interactions have become all the interaction they need. Don’t take it personally, it has nothing to do with how much they like you. It has everything to do with personal comfort and being able to access care from wherever they are most comfortable.
3. Improved Health Outcomes. Currently, research shows that no patient outcome difference was found between telemedicine appointments and in-person office visits. This proves the point that telehealth can be just as effective as in-person when treating certain conditions. However, more research is coming and we’re willing to bet that they will find overall improved health outcomes when it comes to rural health and behavioral health along with proving that telehealth provides the opportunity for providers to ensure that their patients are following treatment plans. Another take on how telehealth will benefit patients is that it will be easier for them to get regular prescriptions refilled and will be easier for elderly patients to make sure they are getting the care they need due to easier access. We believe you’re going to see an incredible boost in health outcomes overall.
4. Boosting Revenue. The bottom line of a healthy practice is exactly that – the bottom line and how well it is doing. Adding telehealth to your practice will allow you to see more patients in less time. Since CMS has now stated that they consider telehealth to be a patient-facing encounter, it will also help contribute to your Composite Performance Score under the MIPS payment track of the Quality Payment Program. Adding an extra income funnel is a no-brainer in these difficult times.
5. Your Quality of Life. While the goal of most healthcare providers is to ensure the quality of life for their patient, it is also important that you protect your personal quality of life. This means balancing a demanding career with your family life. One recent survey found that nearly 80% of physicians consider video visits to promote a more flexible work-life schedule. We agree. Telehealth is one service that can actually reduce your stress and allow you to enjoy the personal time you need. In general, telehealth can increase the efficiency of your office and reduce the overall overhead. What’s not to like about providing this new service to the delight of your patients, your staff and your fellow providers.