The most successful medical practices have a few important factors in common. They are able to find a perfect balance between business goals and objectives and the desire to provide outstanding care for patients. Many have found that telemedicine has an important role to play in each of the elements of practice success.
Most providers share the goal of helping people lead healthier, more enjoyable lives. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to focus on both high quality patient care and the bottom line. The practice is a business after all, and revenue growth and cost control are rightfully top of mind concerns.
The most limited resource in any practice is each provider’s time. There are only so many billable hours in a day, so it is essential to maximize the amount of time that results in revenue. Unpaid telephone follow-up calls, patient no-shows, and down-time between patients all eat into practice profitability.
That’s why many practices are turning to telemedicine as a replacement for some in-person visits. In many cases, follow-up visits via video are billable, while telephone calls alone are not. No-shows and last minute cancellations are reduced when patients don’t have to physically travel to the office, and each provider’s time can be used more efficiently to see more patients each day without any additional office overhead.
The importance of the medical office staff on practice success can not be overstated. Interactions with front desk personnel, schedulers, medical assistants and other team members shape the customer experience as much as provider interactions. Office staffs that are stressed, under resourced, or unhappy are unable to deliver great customer service.
Hiring additional staff to deal with an increased workload is not a viable option for many practices. Many have found, however, that the introduction of telemedicine is an excellent way to take the pressure off of the office team. The amount of administrative time necessary to complete a video appointment is significantly less than an in-person one. This makes it possible for the practice to grow without adding salaries or making the staff miserable. For office workers, telemedicine has the added benefits of reducing waiting room crowding, and keeping wait times short.
Patients are more commonly being referred to as customers or healthcare consumers throughout the medical industry and with good reason. These days, people have a variety of options from retail walk-in clinics to online only providers. Customers are also responsible for a greater portion of healthcare costs, so they have a big incentive to shop around.
Practices that provide an exceptional customer experience are able to engender customer loyalty and deeper relationships. Patients are best served with the continuity of care that comes from using one practice for as many needs as possible.
Offering the option of telemedicine is one way to make choosing your practice more convenient and less expensive for patients. Because video-visits can be done from anywhere, the customer is able to reduce the secondary costs of health care such as time away from work, transportation expenses, and child care costs. Making it easy and less expensive to receive care from your practice increases that chance that patients will comply with follow-up instructions and achieve the desired health outcome.
All of the careful attention to the customer experience and the efficient use of each provider’s time is wasted if the practice is unable to achieve reimbursement for each encounter.
Fortunately, fears about payer reimbursement do not need to keep practices from embracing telemedicine as a new channel for care. The best solutions offer payer reimbursement verification for each scheduled encounter.