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Telemedicine: The Force Awakens

Telemedicine is a growing forceStar Wars: The Force Awakens is a monster hit that is going to end its global run as the second or third-biggest movie of all time. With $1.7 billion and counting it’s already exceeding all-but-the-most outlandish box office predictions. There’s only one thing bigger than Star Wars (ok, maybe more than one thing, but one thing for sure) – telemedicine. The global market for telemedicine is expected to be worth more than $34 billion by the end of 2020.

Since we have Star Wars and telemedicine on the brain right now, we thought we’d play our favorite game. It’s called, “Take a Yoda Quote and Apply it to Any Subject.” Let’s see what the great Jedi master has to say about using technology to connect doctors and patients for routine visits.

Always in motion is the future.” – Yoda

Good point master. The rate of technology-driven change in medicine is astounding in both the clinical and IT context. Healthcare organizations have historically lagged other sectors when it comes to information technology adoption, but that has changed dramatically in recent years as patients and sometimes lawmakers demand that healthcare organizations adopt the most advanced solutions.

You must unlearn what you have learned. Do not assume anything Obi-Wan. Clear your mind must be. – Yoda

There are some persistent myths about telehealth that have been slow to fade. Some practitioners believe that patients will resist the technology due to security or other concerns, but study after study reveals that patients are actually eager to take advantage of the convenience of telemedicine. Others fear that they will not be reimbursed, despite the progressive regulations and payer policies that are spreading rapidly across the country. These misconceptions must be unlearned indeed.

If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.” – Yoda

Competition in healthcare is fierce. Virtual doctor services are springing up right and left. Telemedicine options will be available to your patients, whether you offer them or not. By integrating telemedicine into your practice, you can create a superior patient experience that offers both virtual and in-person visits. Doing so will help protect the loyalty of your patients and give them continuity of care that they can’t get if they use online telemedicine services.

Decide you must, how to serve them best.” – Yoda

The option of a remote visit for routine follow care and the management of medications or chronic conditions is a major convenience for many patients. They are able to eliminate travel and child care expenses, reduce time away from work, and avoid exposure to other ill patients. But serving patients in this way isn’t only great for them. You benefit as well with reduced overhead expenses, fewer no-shows, more scheduling flexibility, and improved patient compliance that leads to better health outcomes.

Patience you must have my young padawan.” – Yoda

Offering an entirely new way to provide care isn’t a decision that should be made lightly. There is a lot to understand about the types of solutions offered, the regulations in your location, and the reimbursement policies of payers. It isn’t something that one can understand and execute overnight. However, just like Yoda helped Luke along his journey, the learning curb can be shortened significantly by choosing a partner that has experience and who will work with you to get both the customer service and financial outcomes you are trying to achieve.

Telemedicine probably wouldn’t have been a big deal to the Star Wars crew. It’s kind of a necessity in space. (In fact, the technology was first developed for NASA.) But it’s a game-changing breakthrough for many of the millions of Americans who’ve been filling the theaters to watch the struggle between dark and light. How will you serve them best?