Every year there is a new trend. From fashion, to technology, even to the latest health superfood (Kale-themed t-shirts, need we say more) the public is always wanting to know, “What’s next?” In healthcare providers and patients are asking the same question.
For providers, “What’s next?” in terms of new breakthrough research discoveries or tools their practice can use to become more efficient and increase patient engagement. For patients, “What’s next?” regarding how technology will make appointments and doctor visits more efficient or simply what new methods can help them optimize their overall well-being.
With the increasing development of new technology comes technology integrated specialty care such as tele-urology. Tele-urology is the integration of urology with telemedicine, which defined by the American Telemedicine Association, is the use of telecommunications software to diagnose and manage medical disease. Telemedicine can be implemented through modalities such as video-conferencing software, mobile applications and wearable devices.
Telemedicine is the fastest growing segment of the healthcare market and it’s no surprise that many hospitals and private practices are offering tele-urology so they can adapt in an ever-changing healthcare marketplace.
But like many technology innovations or trends, is the investment worth the risk?
Tele-urology might seem like another investment that your practice will spend hours integrating without any ROI to come, but think again. Multiple studies have shown that tele-urology acquires savings both for a provider and their patients. Research around use of tele-urology for an initial hematuria evaluation showed a considerable cost savings of $124 per encounter when compared to a face-to-face encounter.2 With 1.5 million hematuria encounters annually reported nationwide, that’s a total cost savings of nearly $200 million per year.
Patients aren’t left out of these substantial savings either. To show the financial effect tele-urology has on patients, the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (VAGLAHS) documented the benefits of their tele-urology program,1 showing per-patient savings of:
- $67 in travel expenses
- $126 saved in lost opportunity cost
- 277 miles not traveled
- 290 minutes of travel time
On top of this, 95% of patients in the VAGLAHS program rated tele-urology as a ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ experience, proving that while tele-urology decreases the financial burden for patients and practices, it increases patient satisfaction.
If you aren’t completely convinced on offering tele-urology in your practice, think again. Despite set-backs such as licensing rules, stating a provider must be licensed in the same state as their patients, some states provide reimbursement for tele-urology start-up costs. Click here to see if any reimbursements are offered in your state.
Although there are some trends that we’d like to forget ever happened (R.I.P. acid wash jeans) tele-urology isn’t a trend that will fade out anytime soon. If anything, telemedicine integrated into specialty practices will only continue to grow, which is why you should offer tele-urology to your patients.
Despite a small investment cost, which may be applicable for reimbursement, offering tele-urology has proven beneficial to the provider’s pocketbook, the patient’s pocketbook and has also been shown to increase patient satisfaction. With all the advantages of offering tele-urology, the question now isn’t, “Should you invest in it?” but instead, “How quickly can you start?”
Ready to integrate tele-urology into your practice? Contact us on ways you can get started.
1. Bankhead, C. (2016, August 15). Telemedicine Expands Its Reach into Urology Clinical Practice. Retrieved April 02, 2018, from http://uropracticemanagement.com/upm-issues/2016/august-2016-vol-5-no-4/2787-telemedicine-expands-its-reach-into-urology-clinical-practice
2. Zholudev, Vitaly & J. Safir, Ilan & M. Issa, Isabella & N. Painter, Mark & A. Petros, John & Filson, Christopher & M. Issa, Muta. (2017). Comparative Cost Analysis: Teleurology Versus Conventional Face-to-Face Clinics. Urology. 113. 10.1016/j.urology.2017.07.034., from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28780298