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How Telemedicine Changes the Way Doctors Do Business

how telemedicine is changing healthcareThe way that we work, shop, find entertainment and connect with family and friends has profoundly changed over the last 20 years. It is simply impossible to overestimate the impact of the internet and subsequently mobile technologies on our day-to-day lives. We can now watch a cute cat video, buy our groceries, connect with an old friend, and respond to emails from clients from anywhere, anytime. It’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about it. It only makes sense that the way we practice medicine would be changed by this technology as well.

Until now, most of the changes have been incremental, electronic health records and online patient portals, for example. But the introduction of telemedicine has the potential to have an even greater impact on how medical practices operate. A new business model is emerging.

Add Value and Eliminate Waste

Business process methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma, usually associated with manufacturing, but now also used in healthcare settings, rely on the principle that any process, expense or activity that does not add value to the customer should be eliminated. Imagine that in the context of a patient visit. The travel time and expense does not add value to the customer. Missing time from work adds no value. Time spent in the waiting room adds no value. The value is derived from direct interactions with providers.  In some, but not all cases, the fact that the interaction happens in person does not add value. Telemedicine is the perfect way to eliminate all of that waste for many types of visits including follow-up care, chronic disease management, lifestyle coaching and other types of cases.

Introduce a New Revenue Channel

Telemedicine visits represent a significant opportunity to increase revenue. Because they can be conducted quickly, without any increase to office overhead, more patients can be seen each day, potentially representing a sharp increase in revenue. In addition, they make it possible to work with patients in a larger geographic area, increasing the potential market. Finally, they do not have to be confined to the hours when regular office staff is present. This gives providers the flexibility to offer non-traditional appointment times and expand or shift the hours they work.

Keep Patients in an Increasingly Competitive Landscape

Traditional physician’s practices are facing competition from options that have never before been available to patients. Walk in clinics are popping up in every grocery and drug store. Online options for video visits with doctors are becoming more prevalent and insurance companies are becoming increasingly willing to pay for them. Patients choose these options because they are convenient and cost effective. Patients still need more traditional care for very serious problems, but practices should think about how many visits could be taken care of with these alternatives. How would the practice be impacted by losing that revenue? Offering telemedicine is an effective way to make sure patients keep coming to you for routine visits and to provide a continuity of care that these other services can’t.

Telemedicine will impact your practice one way or another. It is either a threat or a golden opportunity. For those who see it as an opportunity, our telemedicine technology provides the structure necessary to take advantage of it. We’d love to chat more about how we can help.