Small practices can take advantage of telehealth to benefit their patients and their bottom line.
Many large medical practices and hospitals have embraced telehealth due to its convenience, accessibility, and ability to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. But telehealth is not just for large practices and hospitals — small practices can benefit from it, too.
Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, involves the delivery of medical services through technology. Today, telehealth technologies are available that can help small practices provide their patients with a high level of care. With a clear understanding of these technologies and all that they offer, small practices can use them to become more productive and efficient than ever before.
Overcome Staff Shortages with Telehealth
Staff shortages are affecting health care practices nationwide — to the point where they've caused a public health crisis. When it comes to talent recruitment and retention, small practices often have limited resources at their disposal. As such, they can rarely compete with large practices and hospitals for top talent.
Telehealth helps small practices deliver quality patient care, even if they are short-staffed. For example, small practices can use remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology, which lets patients upload information about the foods they eat, the medications they use, and other relevant medical data through a mobile app. Patients can then track their health in real time and are well equipped to make informed decisions on how to take care of themselves. Meanwhile, small practice care providers can utilize RPM to instantly access information about a patient's health. If any issues are identified, they can notify the patient and help them manage these problems.
Along with RPM, telehealth gives small practices the flexibility to set up anywhere, anytime communications with patients. Telehealth platforms offer video conferencing, so care providers can have face-to-face conversations with patients from around the world. With video calls, care providers may diagnose and treat patients without in-person visits. Additionally, telehealth platforms allow small practices to send instant messages or engage in online chats with patients through a secure and HIPAA-compliant online portal. This enables care providers to immediately respond to non-urgent concerns and questions and help patients manage their medication use, without the need for additional staff.
Telehealth Supports the Delivery of Personalized Care
Research indicates personalization can improve health care outcomes and the patient experience. The ability to provide patients with personalized care can distinguish a medical practice from its counterparts. Yet, small practices often struggle to deliver personalized care and outstanding patient experiences at the same level as large practices.
Ultimately, telehealth offers the best of both worlds, as it helps small practices provide personalized care at a high level and improve the patient experience. For instance, a small practice can integrate a telehealth platform into its EHR system. This allows care providers to access patient information and update medical records during patient appointments. Care providers can even share medical images, lab results, prescriptions, and other files with patients. This enables patients to receive care tailored to their needs.
Telehealth also represents a convenient option for patients and small practices alike. Patients won't have to worry about commuting to a small practice, which frees up time for them and eliminates travel costs. Some patients have said they're more likely to discuss difficult or personal topics with a care provider over a telehealth platform than they would during an in-person visit as well. On the other hand, small practice staff can work from home and still meet with patients via a telehealth platform. This helps a small practice simultaneously provide its patients with personalized care and lower its overhead costs.
How Telehealth Helps Small Practices Streamline Their Operations
Maximizing productivity is a problem for medical practices of all sizes. In a poll of medical group leaders, 36% said their organizations' productivity was less than expected in 2022, up from 30% in 2021. Medical group leaders cited lack of care provider availability, administrative burdens, and a high level of patient no-shows as three of the barriers to increasing their organizations' productivity.
With telehealth, small practices can boost their productivity across several areas. First, they can store and secure patient data in a cloud-based EHR. This ensures administrative staff can avoid the hassle that can come with managing paper-based medical records. Also, small practices can send bills or pre-filled insurance claims and receive credit or debit card payments through a telehealth platform. As a result, the platform can free up time for administrative staff, so they can spend more time focusing on high-value tasks.
Let's not forget about the customization that a telehealth platform offers, either. A small practice can implement telehealth services in alignment with its size and budget. As the practice grows, it can scale its telehealth services accordingly.
Get Started with Telehealth for Your Small Practice
Telehealth technologies level the playing field between large and small medical practices. You can incorporate a telehealth platform into your small practice and start reaping the benefits of your decision right away. To do so, it pays to partner with a telehealth platform provider that understands the needs of small practices. When you do, you can implement telehealth technologies into your operations and get the most value out of your investment.
Erica Jain is the CEO and founder of Healthie.