It is estimated that the global telehealth market is expected to reach USD 455.3 billion by 2030, proving that virtual healthcare is a rapidly growing industry. While general practitioners widely utilize this technology, providers in mental health, neurology, cardiology, and more have also greatly embraced telemedicine – especially during a time when the physician shortage is particularly pointed to those in specialized medicine.
However, while the physician shortage has undoubtedly impacted both patients and the entire medical community, there are other motivations to adopt telemedicine programs into specialist practices.
Ability to see more patients
Three key reasons are usually responsible as to why patient volume stays the same, or even decreases, for in-person providers. First, they have too many cancelations. Second, they are located too far away for some patients to access, and third, they need more providers to meet their patient demand.
Telemedicine is a solution for all three of these challenges. It dramatically reduces the number of cancelations simply because it is easier for the patient to access. Patients who must take time off work or find childcare are much more likely to cancel a doctor's appointment. By connecting virtually, these appointments become much less of a hassle.
This is also the case for those living in rural areas or facing mobility challenges. If a rural resident wants to see a neurologist, they may drive hours to reach the nearest provider. Telemedicine allows specialists to meet with and recommend treatment quickly for those who would otherwise spend a significant amount of time getting to care.
Lastly, the lack of specialists results in long wait times or no appointments available at all. With a telemedicine partner, specialist practices can deliver additional on-call experts during all hours, filling in the gaps and opening up more appointment times for those in need.
Deliver better outcomes
In addition to being able to see more patients, specialty practices are realizing that offering a telemedicine option is also producing better outcomes. The high wait times, in conjunction with the physician shortage and an aging population (with more health problems), result in an increased demand for services that are not always available.
However, some of these visits are critical, as earlier detection and timely intervention significantly affects overall health. Specialists who treat patients virtually can usually start therapies earlier, potentially saving lives. And for those that need continuous care, such as mental health patients or those suffering from Alzheimer's, the online specialists treating them can deliver timely treatment that could prevent their condition from worsening.
Bring in more revenue
As much as medical practices' main priority is to deliver vital care, they are also a business that needs to maintain expenses. Like hospitals all over the country, many groups face the challenges of strained resources, staffing issues, budget constraints, and new regulations. They are constantly looking for ways to increase profitability and improve efficiency.
Telehealth can help in several ways. First, it allows practices to streamline and assess patients, filling in coverage gaps and freeing up in-person staff to handle high acuity cases. This method provides more comprehensive care, resulting in patients not feeling the need to seek treatment elsewhere. Second, many signs point to the fact that younger populations prefer telemedicine and will seek out doctors who provide it as an option. Not offering virtual care may result in lost patients and revenue. Third, as mentioned previously, working with a telemedicine partner ultimately decreases patient cancelations, increases scheduled appointments, and helps streamline back-office management; therefore, leading to increased profits.
Lastly, working with a virtual specialist can add new revenue streams to an existing practice. For example, in the fields of neurology and psychology, many conditions treated by these specialists have similar symptoms, and many patients suffering from neurological disorders also experience mental health issues. That is why numerous neurology practices incorporate a virtual psychiatrist into their practice, as patients often benefit from working together with combined treatment plans. The same method works for many other specialties as well, combining offerings virtually at the same practice and boosting patient volume in a "one-stop" complete care model.
Doing what is best for your practice
Delivering care doesn't have to be only virtual or only in-person. When practices embrace a telemedicine model, they offer their patients the best of both worlds. VirtualMed Staff is ready to work with you every step of the way if your specialty practice is looking to adopt an effective telemedicine program. Contact us today to get started.
If you'd like a custom telemedicine solution for your hospital, get started with a consultation today!