Physician Migration to Telemedicine May Mean More Revenue


Physician Migration to Telemedicine May Mean More Revenue

A decade ago telehealth services were extremely inadequate, virtual physician visits had limited capabilities, and providers of such services were few and far between. Today wearables have weathered the storm and are the norm, they monitor everything from heartbeat to high blood pressure, and glucose etc., and send live data to physicians’ offices.  And it doesn’t stop there. Telemedicine programs that allow patients to see a doctor via videoconferencing are as easy and as popular as Facetiming with friends and family.

Using virtual visits for minor health conditions, for patients with chronic ailments or the elderly with inability to travel, as well as for routine follow up (even post-surgical!), can have a big impact on a practice. Not just for rural residents any more, it is used by the younger, healthier, tech savvy city dwellers who love working from home, and shopping from home. Stressed out working Moms who can’t tell if a rash is an allergic reaction love it as well, no one misses work or school. Understanding the value for their patients is what will drive physicians to accept this change.

Compensation models will improve as physicians are reimbursed for their time when providing care through telehealth. Training will be necessary for some in mobile and video technology, but single click, easy to use applications have already been developed which also allow for scheduling appointments and tests.

There will always be a need and a place for the primary-care physician’s office, but how that space will function and how physicians will see their patients and provide care will look different in the near future. Doctors who continue to be slow to adapt may risk losing both patients and revenue.

Healthcare has been slow to adopt telemedicine. In 2016, just 15% of physicians worked in practices that used telehealth, according to a 2018 American Medical Association survey. Still, in dollar terms, telehealth services have grown by 44% over the past five years, and the telehealth industry is projected to be worth $34 Billion by 2020.

Most private insurers cover e-visits, 34 states require that they do. A few states still require that a patient relationship be established with an in-person visit before the provider can bill for an e-visit. Laws now allow Medicare to cover telemedicine services for people who have had a stroke and those who get kidney dialysis, either at home or at a dialysis facility. It also permits Medicare Advantage Plans to offer telemedicine as a covered benefit.

Medicare began allowing doctors to bill the government for monitoring certain patients remotely using telemedicine tools — for example, tracking heartbeat and rhythm, blood pressure and blood glucose levels. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing to eliminate geographical restrictions on telehealth access in Medicare Advantage Plans by 2020. The proposal would also give members more locations to access care, including their own home. As acceptance and adoption of telemedicine expands, so will coverage. More info on Telehealth Reimbursement here:
https://www.telehealthresourcecenter.org/knowledgebase_category/tele-reimbursement/

Telemedicine, also referred to as telehealth, uses computers and their display monitors, software and capacity for data analysis — to deliver virtual health services. Telehealth enables physicians to take the care to the patient when they need it, where they need it. It represents a step forward for patients in convenience as well as care management and better outcomes, but also represents a future untapped revenue stream for doctors of all types. As restrictions fade away, compliance becomes easier, and reimbursements grow, we see integration of telehealth into current care delivery models as a welcome opportunity for all parties.

There are challenges ahead for sure. It is not just about technology but also better processes and innovative applications. But reducing delays in diagnosis and treatment might outweigh the drawbacks, lack of access to records and history, and the propensity to fragmentation rather than integration into the clinical practice.  Studies show patients and doctors alike benefit from:
  • Shorter patient wait times.
  • Reduced patient no-shows.
  • Reduced costs related to patient travel and time away from work.
  • A reduction in clinical overhead costs.
  • Patient satisfaction scores of 90%.

CONTACT US: Investments in your practice’s technology make sense when it satisfies the patient’s need, contribute to better care, makes staff more productive, increases revenue, and ultimately lowers cost. Let us help you identify the opportunities ahead, evaluate the risk vs reward ratio, and acquire the financial solutions that will enable you to invest in the future and ultimately profit from it. Call for a consultation toll free: 855-534-2727.


 

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