Although the patient/provider relationship is deeper and more important than most relationships between consumers and service providers, it is still, at least in part, a financial relationship. Practices that are not profitable don’t stay in business long, even if they provide extraordinary care. Fortunately, new telemedicine capabilities empower practices to maximize revenue while at the same time offering a service that is convenient and cost effective for patients. Here are just a few of the ways that introducing the alternative of video visits can make your practice more profitable.
Increase the Number of Daily or Weekly Visits
Because visits conducted via most well designed telemedicine systems take less time than an in person visit, many practices find that they are able to increase the number of patients each provider sees in a day or over the course of the week without working longer hours. For example, a practice with three providers who each add two video visits per day, at an average reimbursement of $72, will earn an extra $103,680 in revenue over the course of a year.
Decrease the Number of No-Shows and Last Minute Cancellations
The most valuable asset in any practice is the provider’s time. Last minute cancellations and no-shows waste this valuable resource and directly impact profitability. The option of video visits helps tackle this problem in a number of ways. Patients with a telemedicine visit are less likely to cancel due to work issues, transportation, child care, and all of the other facts of life that make getting into the office difficult. If a patient has an in-person visit scheduled, but something comes up that prevents them from showing up, you may be able to do the visit remotely and avoid the cancellation. Sometimes patients simply forget their appointment, a situation that can often be remedied by switching to video.
Get Reimbursed for Follow-ups
Many providers do a certain amount of follow-up over the phone, spending time doing things like reviewing test results, managing medications, or simply checking-in after an in-person visit. In most cases, these telephone calls are not reimbursable. However, if these same types of calls are conducted using a telemedicine platform, they often do lead to reimbursement. This is good for the practice and good for the patient, as information is more easily and effectively conveyed with video.
Safeguard Against Competition
The “retailization” of healthcare is providing consumers with more options than ever when it comes to healthcare. These days people can choose freestanding urgent care centers, retail walk-in clinics, and even on-demand, online physician services. Even if your patients are perfectly happy with the care they receive from you, the ease and convenience of these other options can be a powerful lure. Adding telemedicine to your practice helps you guard against these competitive threats by offering both the convenience of remote care, as well as the outstanding quality of care your long term relationship positions you to offer uniquely.
Improve Patient Health
Perhaps in years past there was not a direct link between patient health and profitability (in fact, unwell patients were once potentially quite profitable), but reimbursement models are changing fast. New schemes such as episode of care, accountable care organizations, and incentive agreements create a strong bond between patient health and revenue. Telehealth makes it easier for patients to make and keep follow-up appointments, for providers to support customers who are trying to lose weight or quit smoking, and for patients and doctors to work together to manage chronic conditions. All of this leads to better health outcomes, more loyal patients, and maximized reimbursement.
Improve Office Staff Efficiency
Improved office staff efficiency is a benefit of telemedicine that indirectly impacts the bottom line. With the right technology in place, video visits reduce the burden on front desk attendants and medical assistants. Their extra time can be used on more strategic priorities. Teams in offices where telemedicine is used tend to have less stress, reducing the expense of frequent turnover.
Telemedicine is not the Holy Grail of practice profitability, but there is a lot of potential upside and very little risk. It is good for providers and patients alike. Technology will continue to advance and change the way people consume healthcare. Practices that embrace it now will be stronger, and financially better off for it.