Sponsored by Henry Schein Medical
When it comes to the future of health care delivery, location matters – just not in the traditional sense. According to a survey by the Advisory Board, up to 77% of consumers would consider seeing a provider virtually.
While patients are keen to take advantage of virtual visits, providers have struggled to find a solution for the inefficient, centralized nature of care and the high cost of physicians’ time. However, the introduction of new technology is opening doors and enabling health care providers to offer quality care in innovative ways, without sacrificing diagnostic capabilities.
Virtual visits are increasing in frequency as traditional physician office visits are declining. According to FAIR Health, telemedicine utilization grew 53% from 2016 to 2017. More traditional care settings saw much more modest utilization growth, such as 14% for urgent cares. Additionally, discharge-related telehealth consultations have grown exponentially – up by 407% in rural areas and 157% in urban areas (from 2014 to 2018), according to another study from FAIR Health.
Providers and patients alike increasingly view telehealth as a cost-effective and efficient method to deliver and expand access to quality care. As changes to legal, regulatory, and reimbursement rules increase telemedicine’s feasibility, telemedicine is coming to the forefront of the care delivery model.
Is your health system in a position to reap the benefits of telemedicine, including cost savings, increased efficiencies and productivity, and reducing physician burnout?
Telehealth helps lead to cost savings
Patient no-shows not only impact a provider’s ability to accurately plan and manage resources, but also their bottom line. When a patient simply doesn’t show up for his or her appointment, the providers still incur staffing and overhead costs, but have no opportunity to fill that slot with revenue generating activities. On average, a no-show patient costs practices $200 according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Given that the average no-show rate across outpatient settings is 14.2%, what are no-shows costing your organization?
The reasons for no-shows run the gamut: from transportation logistics to child care obligations to simply forgetting. Implementing a telehealth strategy can help reduce the number of no-shows. The Journal of Family Medicine reports that 16% of patients missed their appointment due to a personal or work issue, 7% due to a problem with transportation, and 5.5% due to being too sick to come into the practice.
No matter the reason, the end result is the same for health care providers: lost revenue and idle resources. Implementing telehealth in your non-acute settings can help reduce the number of no-shows by making appointments convenient and reducing total cost for the patient. By conducting a patient visit virtually, health care providers can:
- Eliminate the time and cost of traveling to and from a physical practice for patients,
- Enable patients who feel too sick to travel to be consulted from the comfort of their own home, and
- Reduce the chance that the patient will look for another, more convenient option for care.
All of these benefits enable patients to keep their appointments and ensure that the provider’s resources are being employed efficiently.
Telehealth’s flexibility helps optimize resources
According to research by the Association of American Medical Colleges, physician
demand continues to grow faster than supply, and will lead to a shortfall of 122,000 physicians by 2032. The AAMC research found the increased demand is driven by the aging population; the number of individuals 65 or older will grow by 48% by 2032. Physicians themselves account for part of this growth – within the next decade 33% of physicians will be 65 or older.
Telehealth has the potential to reduce the gap between physician demand and supply. Because telehealth removes the physical barriers of traditional patient visits, it enables physicians to provide care for more – and more geographically diverse – patients.
Telehealth can improve a practice’s efficiency by helping to optimize resource allocation – no matter where those resources may be located. If a practice has multiple locations, telehealth allows clinicians to consult patients from any site, on demand. This capability can reduce the need to pay staff overtime or to hire temps to meet patient demand.
Make telehealth part of your talent strategy
With physician-employment at an all-time high, your organization must be competitive
in its compensation packages. The Advisory Board reports that, in 2014, 46% of final-year residents had been contacted more than 100 times about employment opportunities. They also report that 92% of hospital executives expect to experience a clinician shortage within the next 10 years. Physician recruitment is more competitive than ever, and your organization’s talent strategy must reflect that.
One way to stand out is to remember that compensation is not just about money – it’s also about work-life balance. As more millennials and more women come into the physician workforce, work-life balance and flexible hours will be key differentiators. In fact, final-year medical residents ranked both “availability of free time” and “earning a good income” as top considerations of employment.
Telehealth doesn’t just enable patients to engage with their health care professional virtually – it extends that same flexibility to health care providers themselves. This flexibility can help your organization retain and acquire talent, ultimately minimizing the risk of staff shortages. Telehealth can help clinicians to achieve work-life balance (however they define it), by enabling them to conduct patient visits from home and during their preferred hours.
What should you consider when implementing telehealth?
Before integrating a telehealth program, ask the following questions:
- Do your patient demographics and preferences support a telehealth strategy?
- Which telehealth applications will be most valuable for your organization and why?
- What resources are needed to implement telehealth into your organization?
Once you have evaluated whether pursuing telehealth is the right strategy, look for a telehealth partner. A valuable telehealth partner will offer you an unprecedented level of options for achieving high quality doctor-patient encounters, enhancing information-sharing among care team, and delivering real-time and store-and-forward communications.
Please visit www.HenrySchein.com/medpod to learn more about how telehealth can help advance health care delivery.
Virtual visits on the rise
According to a FAIR Health white paper:
- Telemedicine utilization grew 53% from 2016 to 2017, while more traditional care settings grew 14% for urgent cares.
- Discharge-related telehealth consultations are up by 407% in rural areas, and 157% in urban areas (from 2014 to 2018)
Reasons for Missed Appointment Percentage of Patients
- Personal/work issue 16.1%
- Problem with transportation 6.9%
- Too sick to come 5.5%
- Used another source of care 3.7%
- Thought the appointment was not essential 2.8%
Source: The Journal of Family Medicine