People often complain that the healthcare industry lags behind the times. Why can’t everyone email their doctor? Why do you have to see a doctor in person every time you have a question? Why is it so difficult to get medical records transferred? As millennials grow up and older generations become more tech savvy, questions like this grow more common. Thankfully medical software and telemedicine communication software provide answers to many of these questions.
The truth is, consumers in today’s technology-saturated environment are used to convenience and accessing information in seconds. It’s not surprising that these desires have bled into the healthcare industry, leaving many patients wanting tech solutions that will leave them more connected to their providers and the important health information they need.
That’s where telemedicine comes into play. Adoption among practices nationwide in 2017 has risen to 71 percent, up from 54 percent in 2014. The popularity of telemedicine means that providers who have yet to implement it in some form are missing out. Patients want to contact their physicians through email or online portals, and many are even open to virtual doctor visits.
While telemedicine may require a learning curve, there are plenty of benefits for providers who offer this service:
Expanded access to care
It’s no secret that we face a shortage of clinician providers. Many hospitals and physician practices lack the medical staff they need. Offering nursing advice lines and medical call centers expands access to care without filling a waiting room full of frustrated patients. In this scenario, telemedicine can expand services to patients in rural areas, connect with patients outside the delivery system, and triage patient symptoms to help determine when they need physician care. As an added benefit, patients can even use telemedicine to access cutting-edge care from specialists who live across the country.
Improve patient satisfaction scores
Chances are, potential new patients look you up online before they ever step foot in your office. Telemedicine services may improve your patient satisfaction scores by offering shorter wait times and convenient access to care. For example, a Harvard research study found that each doctor visit takes 121 minutes of a patient’s time–and only spend 20 minutes of that time with a physician. Improve your patient’s satisfaction by offering shorter wait times and convenient virtual healthcare.
Added revenue stream
Due to the convenience, telemedicine may attract new patients or serve as an incentive for current patients to seek treatment more often. Physicians can bill for virtual visits or phone calls that take less time than traditional visits and provide a direct connection to patients without taking up space in an exam room.
Cut down on readmissions
It can be difficult to help patients with acute health issues, such as infections or chronic illnesses, from being readmitted to the hospital. Telemedicine allows physicians to stay in closer contact with more patients, giving ample opportunities to assess for emerging symptoms and spot early problems before they require serious medical treatment.
Many telemedicine programs help clinical staff quickly identify a patient’s reason for calling, so they can prioritize care delivery, make recommendations and provide treatment or education. The staff members who field phone calls can designate tasks to the proper clinicians, ensuring that nurses, physicians, and specialists are able to apply their skills to the right patient scenarios. For example, a physician doesn’t necessarily need to handle routine medications questions–that task can be designated to a nurse instead.
Investing in a telemedicine program may be a great way for your office to expand care, add a revenue stream, and improve patient satisfaction in 2018. If you’re interested in learning more about medical software and features that could help your practice, call an unbiased Technology Advisor today for a free consultation, or answer a few questions on our Product Selection Tool for fast recommendations.
Megan Pacella is a Nashville-based freelance writer specializing in healthcare, wellness, and lifestyle content. In addition to writing for national outlets such as USA Today, she works with a variety of healthcare companies to create patient engagement and education programs.