Five reasons why doctors need to offer telemedicine in their practice.
The traditional doctor visit is at risk. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average number of annual visits to a doctor’s office has declined since 2001-a trend that has only been strengthened by new online services offering virtual care to patients who do not have time to see their personal doctor and are in need of a fast remedy. However, the catch is these services connect patients with a doctor they have never met before and who does not know their background or medical history, which can hinder the quality of care.
For medical practices to remain competitive, grow revenue and maintain established relationships with their patients, it is imperative physicians incorporate telemedicine services into their practices and provide patients with the option for treatment through virtual care.
Here are five reasons why integrating telemedicine into a medical practice benefits both physicians and their patients:
1. Increases patient satisfaction. It has been proven that patients are far more likely to be satisfied with a virtual appointment when it is administered with a doctor they know and trust. According to Kaiser Permanente, 93 percent of patients who use telemedicine to meet with their personal doctor have a positive experience that meets their healthcare needs. By offering telemedicine services in addition to in-office care, patients are more satisfied and more likely to remain loyal to their doctor.
2. Provides a convenient solution for more than just the patient. New technology is creating safer and more effective platforms for patients to comfortably and conveniently talk with their doctors on a personal device, such as a smartphone or computer. The video conference capability that comes with virtual care also allows for multiple people, including long-distant family members, caretakers and other doctors or specialists, to virtually join the appointment and collaborate on providing optimal care.
3. Improves patient outcomes. Work, conflicting commitments and personal schedules inhibit many patients from seeking care through traditional in-office visits, especially for needs such as follow-ups, to review lab results or discuss how a new medication is working out. Telemedicine makes it easy and convenient for patients to stay engaged with their treatment plan and receive a stronger clinical outcome.
4. Allows doctors to see more patients without adding hours. When hospitals and private practices extend their patient capacity with virtual visits, they are able to see more patients. According to FPM, physicians typically work 50.7 hours a week, with only 67 percent of the time directed to face-to-face patient care. The remaining 33 percent of their weekly hours are used to consult family and other physicians and for administrative tasks and other office responsibilities. Telemedicine allows for the doctor to combine these tasks, like contacting patients, families and other doctors, freeing up time to accommodate more virtual patient visits during normal work hours.
5. Increase practice revenue. Seeing more patients goes hand-in-hand with increasing revenue. By offering telemedicine, physicians can be reimbursed for a number of interactions that do not actually need to have a patient present in-person. A practices’ telemedicine provider should equip them with the tools and information needed to help them understand how to bill for telemedicine, how to follow telemedicine policies by state and how reimbursement guidelines differ for Medicare, Medicaid and private payers. In all, doctors can add up to tens of thousands of dollars per year in new revenue with just a limited number of virtual care visits per month.
Telemedicine has grown in popularity among patients and will be mainstream within 5-10 years. New technologies and offerings, such as ExamMed, are making it easy and safe for doctors to incorporate virtual care into their practice. While telemedicine isn’t for every occasion, it is a tool that physicians must offer to complement and expand their current healthcare offerings, or they will continue to risk losing patients to more accessible healthcare options online.
Faraz Zubairi is CEO of ExamMed.