From keeping patients healthy to driving a successful business, efficient follow-up care is essential to outpatient practices. Unfortunately, follow-up care can be difficult to manage putting practice time, resources and revenue at risk.
Follow up care is essential in any outpatient practice. From a clinical standpoint, providing routine follow up care is vital to keeping your patients healthy. Diligent follow-up with patients drives better compliance with treatment plans and can mitigate the symptoms of common conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Without effective follow-up, these conditions have a dramatic impact on the health and lifestyle of patients.
Follow-up care is also an important part of the economics of a practice. They are often lower acuity, requiring less time and practice resources to deliver effective care. Without these types of appointments, the practice economics, especially in small to mid-sized independent practices, become untenable. The additional time and resources required to deliver effective care for higher acuity appointments alone is not offset proportionately through insurance reimbursement. Without routine follow-ups, many practices would simply not be able to operate.
Unfortunately, many practices do not effectively manage follow up appointments. In some cases, patients are reluctant to take time off of work to come back into the office so the practice is forced to call the patient over the phone. Of course, there is no way to be reimbursed for a phone call, so physicians and their staff end up working for free to deliver follow up care. In other cases, practices force patients to come back into the office for these appointments, resulting in frequent no-shows.
In an increasingly fragmented healthcare market, patients have a wide range of care delivery options to choose from. Effective follow up care helps build loyalty through patient satisfaction. All else being equal, most patients would rather see a provider with whom they have a relationship, who has access to their medical records.
However, patients are frequently motivated by convenience, which may drive them to urgent care centers or to other options like on-demand telemedicine services like Doctor on Demand. By effectively following up with patients, providers can increase engagement and loyalty from their patients and avoid patient leakage.
Telemedicine follow-ups offer a convenient and efficient channel to deliver care. Specifically, the use of real-time, synchronous audio/video communication, commonly referred to as video-visits, enables these types of interactions to be done remotely, without the patient having to come back into the office. This helps providers address many of the inefficiencies associated with providing high-quality, diligent follow-up care.
Increased ease of access to care results in better compliance with treatment plans. This is especially important for patients that have to travel long distances or take time off work to attend an in-office appointment.
Video-visits are face to face, real-time interactions between providers and patients. All of the non-verbal communication that is lost on the phone is captured in these visits.
Telemedicine is ideal for the following types of follow-up care:
– Chronic condition management
– Medication adjustments
– Reviewing abnormal labs or imaging
– Minor urgent care
– Postoperative follow-up
Offering telemedicine follow-ups is a great way to increase practice revenue. By replacing unpaid follow-up phone calls with reimbursable video-visits, providers can reclaim reimbursement dollars that were previously left on the table. Replacing just a single phone call every day can add up to about $1,500 per month!
If your practice doesn’t make phone calls (probably because you recognize that you can’t be reimbursed) It’s easy to add additional appointments early in the morning, at the end of the day, or over the lunch hour, without increasing overhead. Providers who follow-up with telemedicine can see an additional one or two patients per day from their office without increasing practice resources.
When researching telemedicine platforms, providers should consider a few things very carefully. First, some platforms represent a major disruption to the practice’s existing workflow. Chiron Health integrates seamlessly into existing EMRs, so appointments can be scheduled and documented exactly as they normally are.
Second, reimbursement for these appointments is critical. About half the states in the country require private insurance to cover video-visits at comparable rates to in-person visits. However, there are many nuances and exceptions to these regulations. Chiron Health does a telemedicine specific eligibility check for every appointment to ensure that our clients are billing insurance compliantly.
Finally, it is a reality that some patients will have difficulty connecting to video appointments. Chiron Health provides live support for every appointment to make sure patients successfully connect, and the provider never has to act as tech support.