Home / Blog / Top Benefits Telemedicine Can Offer Health Systems, Part 2 of 4

Welcome to part 2 of a 4 part series where you’ll learn about the top benefits telemedicine offers health systems when they use it as an additional channel of care for their patients. This part will be especially useful for those health systems considering telemedicine for NextGen ACO.

As health systems move toward value-based care, they’ll be looking for additional ways to make care more affordable for patients while ensuring their clinical outcomes are better than ever. Unique services and new technology offerings will be vital in making sure these two pieces are cohesive and provide a better patient/provider experience.

Reducing Costs of Health Care

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Deliver Care in Lower-Acuity Settings at Lower Price Points

Misuse of EDs accounts for $4.4 billion in waste annually and contributes to the high cost of American health care. Patients who frequently use the emergency department for diagnoses of low-acuity illnesses drive up large medical bills for conditions that could have been treated in a lower-acuity setting at a much smaller price point.

Patients without a primary care provider often feel that their only option for seeing a doctor for non-scheduled care is the emergency department. Emergency department staff are not prepared or equipped to help patients establish primary care, especially not with a provider within your network.

Other options leave patients seeking care at retail clinics and urgent care facilities that come with their own high price tag, in addition to limited hours and availability. If a patient experiences a medical situation after-hours, they’re right where they started – back in the emergency department.

Telemedicine can help hospitals and health systems reduce misuse and decompress their emergency departments. By providing a well marketed, self-branded telemedicine solution, patients have an alternative way to access care, at a much lower cost, when they have an urgent care need, don’t have a primary care provider, and/or are experiencing an issue after-hours. In addition, these platforms can be self-hosted right within an emergency department so they can be directed to an easier and faster way of accessing healthcare versus waiting hours in an emergency department for a low-acuity health care need. Not only does this help the patient skip the waiting room, it helps free up that time for other patients with true emergency situations.

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Catch Illnesses Before They’re More Difficult and Expensive to Treat

The sub-population of patients with chronic illnesses that your health system treats comes with the challenges of treating those patients in a setting focused on symptom oriented and acute illnesses. For health systems driving toward value-based health care, high volume of medical procedures and treatments required by those with disease drives up the cost of care. In addition, patients spend myriads of time waiting to be seen by a doctor for regularly scheduled check-ups to monitor their health in addition to urgent care needs that tend to pop up more often than in a regularly healthy patient.

With telemedicine, patients can be seen via video from home on an even more frequent level if necessary with much lower wait time and it completely cuts out commute time.

If an urgent care situation arises, a patient who would otherwise have to wait a week to be seen by their primary care physician or who would otherwise head to the emergency room can now check in with a doctor any time of the day or night and ideally catch any serious illness quickly and efficiently in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost allowing them to avoid further tests and treatments.

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Costly ACO? Keep More Reimbursements by Seeing Patients Remotely More Often & With Less Stress

You’ve likely heard of or may already be participating in the Next Generation ACO model. If not, briefly, it is a new model that will allow Medicare ACOs to assume more risk in service of pursuing efficient and effective patient care. New from the initiative is the ability for the ACO to use telemedicine as an additional way to provide this type of care. Previously, ACOs could only use telemedicine within facilities considered to be in rural areas.

Telemedicine for NextGen ACO can and should be used as a valuable tool ACOs can use to achieve the goal of the program they are enrolled in. Required to improve the quality of care for each patient, ACOs juggle patient relationships with hospitals, primary care providers, health plans, and more to provide care in the most appropriate setting. Telemedicine provides the most efficient solution for most health care concerns. In an effort to reduce costs, health care facilities with high price tags, such as emergency departments, will want to be avoided.

In addition to the normal usage of an emergency department, another large factor will be hospital readmissions. By allowing the population of an ACO to access a doctor 24/7, you’re able to greatly reduce the likelihood of being readmitted to a hospital by remotely monitoring a patient after an initial release.

Reducing unnecessary spend for patients within an ACO population will allow your health system to recoup the highest reimbursement possible within the ACO guidelines. Telemedicine for NextGen ACO is a huge benefit of this latest model and will show great potential in the use of virtual health for all health systems to reduce cost and improve clinical outcomes.

One the biggest advantages of leveraging telemedicine within a health system is cost savings. Telemedicine will help reduce the costs of medical care provided to patients by reducing the time it takes to see a patient and to help eleviate uncessary tests and hospital admissions.

Stay tuned for part 3 which will highlight different ways in which telemedicine can help reduce health care costs for your health system and its patients.


Written by Chelsea Raegen, February 15, 2017 


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