Before you dismiss telemedicine as an unnecessary complication and investment for your business, consider the changes in technology, customer preference, trend toward value-based care, and aging population.
For many businesses, telemedicine is a way to increase patient care options, raise the quality of care, increase reimbursements, and grow business.
Interested? Then let’s take a look at why telemedicine might be right for your practice.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine: (noun) The remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.
The term “telemedicine” has been around long enough to make it into the dictionary and to be embraced by many public agencies and private organizations.
If you are looking for new ways to attract business, provide better patient care, reach underserved markets, and increase your reimbursement options, telemedicine is worth your consideration.
Telemedicine has benefits for both you and your patients:
- Increased Access to Care: Those with limited mobility, full-time jobs, and rural addresses can get the same level of care for many conditions that they would in a face-to-face consultation.
- Improved Competitive Advantage: Consumers have many options for traditional care, and growing options for receiving care through telemedicine, including solutions through their insurers, private companies, and some health systems (e.g., Bon Secours 24/7). Providing state-of-the-art services that make patients’ lives more convenient make your practice more attractive in the marketplace.
- Increasing Revenue: As fee for service reimbursements decrease, you may be looking for a chance to boost revenue. By batching your telemedicine appointments, you can see more patients in the same period of time. Additionally, telemedicine has been shown to reduce the number of no-shows as well as better coordinate multidisciplinary care, all of which work together to stabilize your reimbursements.
- Reducing Gaps in Care: Real-time and near real-time collaboration between primary care and specialty physicians increase the likelihood of patient follow-through and positive outcomes, which may also improve your quality reporting measures for reimbursement through MACRA.
Also of note is the fact that telemedicine technologies are increasingly becoming more affordable. An investment in the technology required to add telemedicine to your practice is a fraction of what it used to be. Even some of the smallest providers now have the budget for the equipment and training necessary.
How Do You Get Started with Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is not right for every patient, every patient encounter, or every practice. For instance, surgery and obstetrics are a couple of specialties in particular with limited options for telemedicine (except for patient monitoring).
Before embarking on this path, we recommend a simple process to determine whether telemedicine is right for your facility and in what capacity.
- Perform a Goals Assessment: What are your goals for your healthcare business? Perhaps you are aiming for greater efficiency, sustained growth, improvements in care, or increasing partnerships. Knowing your goals for the business will help you decide if and how telemedicine fits. Be sure to think of long-term and short-term goals.
- Assess Your Needs in Relation to Your Goals: Are patient and business needs hampering your ability to reach your goals? For instance, if your goal is to improve diabetic compliance (thus improving your patients’ health and satisfying a Quality Measure under the new MACRA rule for Medicare reimbursement), then you have a need to monitor patient compliance more closely. Perhaps your business need is to differentiate yourself from the competition to grow, but you currently offer the same services as everyone else in your area.
- Evaluate the Gaps: Is telemedicine a potential solution to your needs and a path to reach your goals? If so, how? For instance, using an app or device to track and send glucose levels in diabetic patients along with video consultations for education, could satisfy your goals of improving diabetic patient compliance and differentiating your business from others in your market.
- Source Technology: Outlining your objectives and budget before you start shopping for technology resources will keep you focused. There are compliance issues to follow that technology alone can’t solve, and knowing your boundaries in advance will prevent you from over-purchasing or under-complying.
- Form Networks: Whether you are advertising your new services to your patients or connecting with other healthcare providers or facilities, promoting your telemedicine practice is essential to get it off the ground.
Nixon Law Group Partner Rebecca Gwilt wrote The Virginia Telemedicine Guide, a 4-module tool designed to help providers implement and profit from this powerful and convenient method of providing patient care.
If you’re looking for a knowledgeable advisor to set up a telemedicine component to your business—one that meets Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance requirements so you can bill without worry—rely on Nixon Law Group to lead you through the implementation process.