5 Reasons Why You Should Offer Telemedicine in 2016

 In Articles, Provider Notes, Telemedicine

By Dr. Jameelah Melton, Medical Director at TouchCare

The number of practices adopting telemedicine is growing significantly. A 2015 survey from REACH Health found that 60% of physicians and health care executives felt that telemedicine was a top priority for their organization.1 Whether they are choosing to offer the service as a means to enhance patient care, improve practice revenue, or both, there are multiple reasons why physicians and health care providers are integrating telemedicine into their practices. Let’s outline a few of them here.

Patient Acquisition and Retention

Offering telemedicine services is a great patient acquisition and retention tool. Patients really like the convenient access to care that telemedicine offers for numerous reasons: they don’t have to miss several hours of work; they don’t have to travel; they can be in a comfortable environment; and telemedicine can eliminate the potential for exposure to other illnesses in health care settings.

These were some of the many reasons I heard as to why patients liked the fact that I offered telemedicine. It was striking to see my patient acquisition rates increase by as much as 50% when I started marketing my telemedicine services at newborn education classes. From those experiences alone, I would encourage practices to offer telemedicine for patient acquisition. Telemedicine is also helpful for patient retention of remote patients who prefer to maintain a relationship with your practice.

Create Office Efficiencies

There are some really unique models for workflow efficiencies being created through telemedicine. Many practices have their advanced practicing providers see patients via telemedicine, and some practices even have a dedicated telemedicine practitioner. This physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner sees patients for chronic care management, low acuity illnesses, annual wellness checks, and/or hospital discharge follow ups, allowing the rest of the team time to see more complex patient situations. Think about whether this would be a good option for creating more efficiency in your practice.

Enhancing the Patient Centered Medical Home

By far the most common way that practices are using telemedicine is in creating a more robust patient centered medical home. Whether you are part of an ACO or a group needing to meet HEDIS measures, here are few examples of how practices are using telemedicine to meet care gaps:

  • Access to Care
  • Timely Appointments
  • Preventative Health
  • Pharmacy Management
  • Readmission Prevention
  • Care Management
  • Health Promotion and Education Care of At-Risk Populations

After Hours Services

There’s a lot to say about using telemedicine for after hours care. Not only does it allow practices to extend office hours without extra overhead, but it is also a means by which practices can avoid unnecessary emergency room visits, triage services more appropriately to an urgent care or next day appointment in the office, and even garner additional revenue.

Consider whether offering telemedicine visits during extended office hours would be helpful to your practice. Virtual visits offered after normal business hours would enable you to compete against both retail clinics and telemedicine urgent care services. Telemedicine can also allow your practice to more effectively triage after hour patient calls, and schedule them for next day appointments rather than referring them to an urgent care or the emergency room.

Patient Satisfaction

One of the final reasons – and some would argue the most important reason — to offer telemedicine services is for improving patient satisfaction with your practice. Patients love using telemedicine. It’s convenient, easy, and saves them a lot of time. Satisfactions scores are generally reported to be around 75-90%, and telemedicine no-show rates for one institution were documented to be as low as 7-10% one year.

Consider the hectic lives that many of our patients lead. Some have restrictive work schedules, some are balancing childcare and/or care of other family members, and others have chronic illnesses and are juggling multiple doctor appointments. Patients appreciate any step that we can take to make their lives easier and facilitate their care. In the end, these measures help them, and our practice.

To learn more about how TouchCare’s telemedicine application can be integrated into your practice, please contact us at info@touchcare.com or request more information from our TouchCare implementation team.

Jameelah Melton, MD is the Medical Director at TouchCare a mobile healthcare company changing the way healthcare is delivered. She is the former owner of Sollus Pediatrics, where she used telemedicine and other technologies to fill health care gaps and develop practice efficiencies.

[1] 2015 U.S. Telemedicine Industry Benchmark Survey Executive Summary, April 2015, REACH Health

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