Many patients face obstacles that make it difficult for them to commit the necessary time and resources to seeing their provider on a regular basis. The use of telemedicine software reduces the burden on patients by eliminating time away from work, childcare concerns, and travel time and costs.
The term “health information technology” (health IT) is a broad concept that includes an array of technologies to store, share, and analyze health information. Telemedicine is a subset of health IT that encompasses the use of technology to deliver clinical healthcare via secure video and audio connections.
Telemedicine software is the platform used by providers to connect with patients, and share video and images. It can be integrated with a provider’s electronic health record and scheduling systems.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. While this is great news for those who now have access to health care, it does put additional strain on an already taxed system. Telehealth software is one way to service more patients in less time and to reduce the overhead of patient check in and waiting areas.
In addition, the population of elderly and chronically ill patients is growing quickly. That’s why 24 states have enacted telemedicine reinbursement parity laws and several others have legislation pending.
While there are a number of different telemedicine software solutions on the market and the features they offer vary, the best solutions include the following key capabilities.
Providers want telemedicine software that adds a new way to deliver services without adding additional complexity. EHR/PM integration makes it easy to add video visits to the mix without additional friction.
The object of telemedicine software is to make it as easy as possible for patients to get the care they need from anywhere. That’s why it is important to provide both a mobile app and the ability to use a browser. Patients can connect in the way that is easiest for them, wherever they are.
Providers need assurance that they will be reimbursed for each visit conducted via video. That’s why the most comprehensive telemedicine software includes a rules engine to verify payment eligibility when the appointment is scheduled.
Not all video connections are secure enough to provide the patient confidentiality protections required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). That’s one of the many reasons that providers are choosing purpose-built telemedicine technology, rather than consumer grade video conferencing options like Facetime or Skype–these solutions are not HIPAA-compliant video conferencing solutions.
The ability to brand your telemedicine app with the look and logo that your patients associate with your practice gives them piece of mind that they are getting the same level of care that they’ve come to expect from your team.
No matter how easy-to-use telemedicine software can be, no doubt there will be questions from time to time. That’s why practices should choose technology that includes in-app support for real-time issue resolution.
The benefits of video visits for patients are obvious, but how do they provide an advantage for providers?
The option to see patients via video makes practices more efficient by reducing the number of people in the waiting area and the burden on administrative staff. When well executed, video visits can make it possible for providers to see more patients in a day.
Eliminating the barrier of transportation increases likelihood that patient treatment will be successful because it is easier to follow through with telemedicine follow-up visits.
Because both the provider and the patient can be anywhere during a visit using telemedicine technology, providers have increased flexibility when and from where to see patients. Office hours can be expanded or made more flexible.
With video visits, transportation, child-care and work related issues are less likely to keep patients from keeping the appointment.