Telemedicine has experienced a staggering amount of growth in recent months – and for good reason. According to a recent study published by the Journal of American Informatics Association, virtual urgent care visits grew 683% at NYU Langone Health, and non-urgent visits grew an astounding 4,345% between March and mid-April. With coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, patients and providers continue to leverage virtual options to receive and deliver healthcare in lieu of in-person consultations.
The seismic shift in virtual care adoption by patients and healthcare professionals means telemedicine is here to stay. If you haven’t incorporated telemedicine into your clinical practice, there’s no better time to expand services and provide patients with access to remote care options.
Here’s 6 reasons why you should add telemedicine to your clinical practice.
1. Broaden your reach
It’s well established that there’s an increasing physician shortage; the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) published an annual report in 2019 projecting a shortfall of 40,000 to 122,000 over the next decade. With such a shortfall, millions of patients either lack access to care or are forced to wait days or weeks for an appointment. Not only does telemedicine provide immediate access for these patients, but for your clinical practice, it significantly broadens your reach to patients outside your immediate geographic region.
2. Improve patient outcomes
For patients who require post-op or routine care for a chronic illness, the need to regularly monitor their health is critical for a positive patient outcome. However, for many of these patients, visiting the doctor for a quick consultation simply isn’t convenient. By missing appointments, patients are at risk for more expensive healthcare procedures down the road or avoidable readmissions.
Telemedicine provides a convenient way to monitor progress and deliver follow-up care. According to a survey by Massachusetts General Hospital, 79% of patients said that scheduling a follow-up visit via telehealth was more convenient than an in-person consultation. The more patients are engaged with their health, the better the opportunity for a positive patient outcome and the less likely they’ll need expensive additional treatment.
3. Reduce no-shows and cancellations
The total cost of missed healthcare appointments in the United States is a staggering $150 billion each year. Although there are several reasons for missed appointments, one of the biggest is convenience. For many patients, the time it takes to travel to the clinic, wait to see a provider, and the actual consultation simply isn’t worth the trouble – especially when the average visit can take up to two hours. That’s why one of the biggest benefits of telehealth is the convenience it offers.
By providing patients with convenient access to care, you greatly increase the likelihood that they will show up for appointments. With the cost per unused appointment costing an average of $200, the savings can quickly add up and bolster your bottom line.
4. Improve your bottom line
Reducing no-shows isn’t the only way telemedicine contributes to increased revenue. Telemedicine allows clinical practices to extend coverage outside traditional operating hours. The increase in hours provides an opportunity to see more patients and increase overall revenue.
Telemedicine also requires less staff and overhead to operate, meaning each appointment yields a greater return. Also, the shorter consultation times means telemedicine increases the efficiency of your services.
5. Patient interest is trending upwards
The coronavirus pandemic provided a huge boost in telemedicine adoption, with the Mayo Clinic recently stated that the pandemic pushed telemedicine ahead nearly a decade. Consumers are quickly adopting telemedicine for its convenience and ease and experts anticipate the growth to continue long into the future. In fact, Global Market Insights estimates the telemedicine market to be valued at $175 billion by 2026. As more consumers choose telemedicine over traditional physician visits, the need for existing practices to expand telemedicine services will be even greater in order to remain ahead of the competition.
6. Your competitors are already offering telemedicine
If your competition isn’t already offering telemedicine services, then they’re planning on it in the near future. Research by HIMSS Analytics indicates that 71% of providers have already adopted telemedicine use into their practice. By not adapting to new ways of providing care, you are at a greater risk of losing patients to competitors who already offer telemedicine services. Today’s patients have more options than ever when choosing where to receive care, especially when walk-in retail clinics and standalone urgent care operations are located at every corner. Offering telemedicine services can help protect against this type of competition.
Overcoming the barrier to entry
Incorporating a new service line like telemedicine into a clinical practice brings with it several important questions to consider. How do you incorporate telemedicine into existing workflows? How do you recruit and train new physicians and get them credentialled? These questions seem daunting at first, but the right telemedicine partner can streamline the entire process and answer them for you.
VirtualMed Staff offers full-service solutions that combines clinical, technical, and telemedicine expertise to make incorporating telemedicine into your clinical practice as seamless as possible. Schedule a demo to learn more.