Telemedicine is continuously making headlines in the news, numerous studies are being shared each year about the impact virtual health is having on hospitals and health systems. Those who are implementing the technology as a way to provide better, easier accessible care to their patients are reaping the benefits by expanding their reach, improving their patient satisfaction, and decompressing their emergency departments. If telemedicine has been so monumental for a number of hospitals across the country, why aren’t more jumping on board?
From regulations to financial obstructions, barriers to telemedicine that hospitals are facing are plenty – especially for large hospitals and health systems who have many hoops to jump through when implementing any new piece of technology or service. Below are a few distinct reasons more hospitals aren’t able to easily offer this new way of treating patients and how those barriers might be broken down.
Hospitals who are looking to add on telemedicine as an added way for patients to be seen for urgent, unscheduled conditions can feel as if they’re opening a new location for care. Along with additional locations comes the requirement of enough physicians to staff the location, one of many huge barriers to telemedicine. With recent studies forecasting a physician shortage, a telemedicine platform to staff can be an extra burden a hospital is ready to take-on operationally or financially. In addition to staffing, training physicians and staff members on a new technology can seem like a daunting task.
Fortunately, telemedicine platforms like RelyMD come fully staffed with emergency medicine physicians who are well-trained in not only providing high-quality care via HIPAA compliant video, but they’re knowledgeable in how the technology works and can quickly treat your patients to get them feeling better, faster. Built into the service cost, this can easily take one large item off your checklist as you explore telemedicine.
Budgets have been set and there’s no deviating from the plan mid-year, especially for something that seems so high cost. But, telemedicine doesn’t have to be so expensive. Consider the changes the technology has made in the past few years. No longer are hospitals required to purchase expensive equipment, especially when they’re leaving the staffing of the platform to an outside source. Bulky equipment is no longer an absolute necessity and pricey upgrades no longer exist.
By considering your telemedicine provider options ahead of time and planning effectively during your next budget cycle, you can be sure virtual health makes the cut.
Lack of telemedicine parity in certain states creates a lack of reimbursement which leads to financial issues for healthcare organizations considering expanding the way they provide care. Until reimbursement reaches its full potential within each state, much of the cost will fall onto a hospital or health system’s shoulders.
While there isn’t an immediate fix for hospitals in states where parity doesn’t yet exist, patients still find the price tag of $50 or less for a consult manageable enough that telemedicine visits have maintained an increase year over year. Many patients, especially those in rural areas where resources are limited- seek care from emergency departments when unnecessary. Virtual health helps reduce those visits and saves patients a considerable amount of money when comparing the price of a video visit to the cost of an ER visit, averaging around $1,233 each. Bottom line, patients are still using telemedicine despite this barrier to telemedicine.
Often when a physician is introduced to a telemedicine service that will begin seeing patients who would have otherwise sought care in-person from their local hospital, a physician will feel that their job is jeopardy if in-person visits start to decrease. But, the exact opposite is happening when telemedicine visits are introduced.
Telemedicine has the ability to expand a further reach to patients you might already be missing out on. By allowing your brand to be conveyed in a positive, easy-to-use, and affordable light, more and more patients will be accustomed to the great service and will then likely continue seeking healthcare from the hospital- increasing the chances that care will be sought from the providing hospital when in-person treatment is necessary. In fact, the Advisory Board recently released a study that shows up to 20% of virtual care patients could potentially become full-service patients of a hospital or health system, each bringing an additional $3,000 in revenue.
Additionally, physicians now have more time to focus on patients who truly need emergency care. This helps to increase satisfaction for existing patients as their wait times decrease.
Limited Internet bandwidth
Not all hospitals and health systems operate in urban areas where internet connections are abundant. Technical difficulties can and do arise for patients with no access to internet or internets with good enough speed to allow for video conferencing. And while this may be surprising to some, not all demographics are up to speed on using smartphone mobile devices, tablets, and video connections via computers.
Hospitals who have concerns with connectivity across their patient census should evaluate telemedicine providers who can successfully assess and treat patients via video OR phone calls. The ability to dial into the provider’s physician network via telephone, whether that be by mobile or landline, is an often-missed opportunity to allow for patients of all demographics to have the accessibility to doctors 24/7. While there are exceptions as to what medical conditions can be treated by phone without a clear visual, there are still many benefits for patients with minor medical complaints that can be handled audibly.
Virtual healthcare will continue to grow and while barriers to telemedicine may be plenty, there are often workarounds for even the most complex situation. Hospitals and health systems who are exploring telemedicine should deeply evaluate all considerations, barriers, and potential solutions as they select platforms and service providers. Finding a partner who is willing to help work through complex situations will be most beneficial for success. To learn more about implementing a telemedicine solution, read this blog post.
August 3, 2017
If you’re ready to learn how RelyMD can help your hospital expand beyond the barriers it might currently be facing in regards to implementing a telemedicine solution, fill out the form below.