As 2018 draws to a close, you might be thinking about how to make 2019 an even more successful year for your practice. Fortunately, there is one easy way to increase revenue, improve patient retention, and delight your office staff. By offering the option of telemedicine, you can get all of these benefits and more. Here’s why it is something to seriously consider as one of your top initiatives for the coming year.
Retain Your Current Patients (And Delight Them)
Patients have more healthcare options than ever. There are retail-based walk-in clinics, numerous urgent care facilities, and an increasing number of online options. These alternatives to traditional in-office care are popular with patients, especially for common issues like colds, flu, UTIs, skin conditions and other ailments because they are convenient, quick, and inexpensive. Practices that offer video visits give patients the significant advantages of seeing their regular provider, with the extra convenience that telemedicine brings. It’s not surprising that many patients report that the availability of telemedicine is an important factor when choosing a provider.
See More Patients
Online visits using telemedicine are generally more efficient than in-office care. Practices that leverage video can see more patients each day with the same number of providers. Most states now require insurers to reimburse providers for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-office care, and many insurers do so even in states where it is not required. This means that doing more visits each day or each week can have a significant impact on revenue with little added cost.
Minimize Cancellations and No-Shows
Missed appointments hurt practice profitability. They are also not good for patient health outcomes. A good number of the reasons that people don’t show up or cancel at the last minute are removed by telemedicine. Patients don’t have to consider transportation, take time off work, or arrange for childcare. These are the very things that get in the way of a doctor’s visit.
Enjoy a Better Work/Life Balance
Many practices that offer visits via video find that the flexibility it provides has a positive impact on provider well-being. Some providers decide to work from home a few hours a week or move some appointments to the weekend. Patients appreciate the opportunity to get care outside of regular business hours, and providers enjoy the chance to take care of personal tasks during the work week. Visits can happen from anywhere, so there is no added office expense when hours are extended.
Get Better Patient Outcomes
Telemedicine makes it easier for patients to follow recommendations regarding follow-up visits. They are the perfect tool for medication management, lifestyle coaching, and post-hospitalization care. Increased patient engagement and compliance leads to better case management and fewer unnecessary complications.
Increase Employee Satisfaction
Medical office workers love video visits because they make the office run more smoothly and alleviate some of the administrative work of having every patient come into the office. With fewer patients in the office, waiting rooms are less crowded and quieter, and there is also less risk of catching an illness from a patient. The extra time frees up office staff to work on projects that are strategic to the practice. The team also benefits when the practice is more profitable and growing.
Get Paid for Telephone Calls
Most payers do not reimburse providers telephone only follow-up calls. Conversations like reviewing test results and medication checks typically go unpaid if they are done over the phone. However, by adding video, many of these exchanges become reimbursable. Using video also makes these encounters more likely to be understood by the patient.
Benefit from the Medicare Chronic Care Management (CCM) Program
Medicare does not yet reimburse for most visits via telemedicine from the patient’s home unless the patient is in a designated rural or underserved area, but there is an exception. The Chronic Care Management program provides a monthly fee per patient for providers who care for people suffering from two or more chronic conditions. The program requires 20 minutes per month of documented clinical care, for which telemedicine qualifies. The CCM program is an easy way to increase practice revenue and provide a valuable service to patients.
Video technology can be a game changer in 2019 for practices that implement an effective program. Patients, providers, and office workers all win when telemedicine is applied thoughtfully with the right technology and education.