Before the pandemic hit, telehealth was an up-and-coming option to make care more convenient for patients when circumstances allowed. What was once a nice idea, sprang to prominence in March of 2020, quickly showing just how powerful a tool it really is. So just what have we discovered about the benefits of telehealth? Here are six of the biggest ones:
This is arguably one of the biggest benefits of telehealth, and one that has been touted from the beginning. Telehealth appointments simply fit more easily into a patient’s schedule. Travel time to and from a doctor’s office can be burdensome, and when you add in time spent in the waiting room, it can be quite a chunk out of the day. With telehealth, patients don’t need to worry about taking hours off work or securing childcare; they can quickly and easily see their provider virtually from the comfort of their own home.
This benefit came to light as the pandemic took off. Sick visits and checkups have always existed side by side in practice schedules, with little thought given to the possibility of illness spreading. That changed in 2020 as the importance of social distancing and limiting exposure to those who may be ill came to the forefront. By using telehealth, providers can prescreen patients for infectious disease, determining if they need to or should be seen. This allows for exposure to germs to be limited for providers, staff, and other patients. This is especially important when you consider that some of those individuals may be pregnant, immunocompromised, chronically ill, or elderly, and therefore at particularly high risk of complications from sickness.
Telehealth contributes to cost savings in a few different ways. First, there is a reduction in hospital readmissions when telehealth is utilized for post-discharge care. Potential issues can be discovered and treated sooner, preventing a worsening situation that requires inpatient care. The next way telehealth adds to cost savings is through increased productivity. Virtual visits don’t only save time for patients, they also save time for providers who can easily transition between virtual exam rooms, meaning they are able to see more patients more efficiently and with less potential for burnout. For patients, eliminating the need to travel to and from the doctor’s office is a big cost savings. Finally, telehealth has been shown to reduce the number of emergency department visits, and this is a major cost savings. With telehealth, patients can access urgent care from home for situations where a hands-on approach won’t be needed. With how costly ER visits are for many patients, and the overall healthcare cost burden of unnecessary use of hospital services, telehealth is making a big difference in this area.
Expanded Care Access
Geography has always been a major limiting factor when it comes to receiving care, as patients are left with the resources that are nearby or the option of costly travel. This is especially difficult for individuals in rural areas, underserved urban areas, and those with mobility issues. Telehealth erases the geography obstacle and allows patients to conveniently see the providers they need to see. Additionally, choosing a specialist is no longer limited by location. Patients now can consult with the best of the best, even if they are miles away, providing knowledge and comfort to those facing tough diagnoses.
Most providers have a no-show rate that is somewhere between 5-7% when considering in-person appointments only. With telehealth, the no-show rate lowers significantly as patients are more easily able to make their appointment without significant disruption to their lives. This helps to reverse the revenue loss from unfilled time slots. With telehealth, providers also have a greater capacity for seeing patients. This allows for a fuller schedule with less risk of falling behind, meaning doctors can see more patients with less risk of burning out. New patients are attracted by the prospect of having access to telehealth, and existing patients are less likely to move to another provider when this convenience is available. Finally, providers can consider increasing income by offering some easy after-hours appointments virtually. You already have an on-call provider in the evenings, answering phone messages for free. What if they used some of that time for virtual visits instead and were able to bring in additional payments? It’s a convenient, easy way to help your practice’s bottom line.
Improves Patient Satisfaction
When you add up convenience, cost savings, and greater access to providers, you get satisfied patients. Healthcare has long been a pain point for a lot of people who struggled with finding the time, the money, or an available appointment. Telehealth eases all these obstacles and makes the need to see a doctor less of a headache.
Telehealth has certainly been a great help over the last two years, and it has the potential to continue to revolutionize healthcare moving forward. Patients and providers alike have seen numerous benefits from implementing virtual care. Are you ready to extend your practice’s care reach? MicroMD offers Medpod, a complete telediagnostics platform. Medpod enables providers to extend reach, redistribute resources, build volume, and transform their business by advancing virtual care, reducing costs, and improving outcomes.
For more information or to get started visit micromd.com or call 1-800-624-8832.
About the author,
Crystal is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. Content creation, social media management, and SEO optimization are just a few of her areas of concentration as she seeks to educate clients and prospects alike about the simple, customizable, and connected solutions we offer at MicroMD.
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