How can telemedicine save you money?

May 15, 2015 / The telemedicine advantage /

 

There's lots of talk surrounding the telemedicine industry about the technology's capacity to increase accessibility of care while reducing costs. The savings telemedicine services can offer patients are very straightforward - both time and money that would otherwise be spent traveling to receive appropriate care can now be saved thanks to remote visits, for example.

But it's not just the patients who benefit financially. If you're on the fence about whether making the leap into telemedicine is right for your clinic, here are a few ways that you can actually stand to save money.

Expanding your patient base

One of the most obvious ways telemedicine can put money into your clinic's pocket goes hand-in-hand with a primary patient benefit: namely, accessibility. Simply put, more accessible care means that your doctors and nurses are able to see more patients without a proportionate increase in cost or travel time, and additional specialties can be serviced at local clinics instead of sending patients into metro hospitals. Being able to see more people isn't just great for patients, but it helps providers as well. Additionally, telemedicine-equipped clinics have the ability to see patients outside of normal office hours. Where previously, any after-hours patient needs have been the province of emergency rooms, telemedicine means that doctors can now keep those patients within the clinic rather than the ER.

Telemedicine technology can increase the number of patients you're able to see.Telemedicine technology can increase the number of patients you're able to see.

Cutting back on overhead costs

Small clinics may be able to reduce overhead costs associated with operating a practice during full-time hours with the use of telemedicine. The ability to consult patients remotely means that clinics can operate more efficiently even if practitioners aren't in the office. Smaller clinics can see savings in utility costs and other common expenses associated with overhead simply by reducing the amount of time that doctors and nurses have to spend in the clinic seeing patients. 

Reducing transportation costs

Speaking of emergency rooms, there is a significant financial benefit that these institutions can reap with efficient telemedicine use. According to a report from the American Telemedicine Association, ERs across the country spend $1.39 billion annually transporting around 2.2 million patients between emergency departments. However, much of this cost can be obviated with coordinated telemedicine efforts. The ATA noted that 850,000 of these transports - nearly half - could be avoided with telemedicine measures, amounting to an average annual savings of $537 million. Nursing homes and senior care facilities also account for a significant expenditure thanks to transportation costs. However, effective telemedicine implementation could help these facilities reduce costs associated with transporting patients from residential facilities to hospitals by $327 million annually.

"Patients are able to receive effective care without the costs of an in-person visit."

Eliminating follow-up visits

Telemedicine can be an effective way to provide ongoing care without having to schedule more in-office visits. In fact, for services such as drug consultations or symptom management, videoconferencing technology is especially well-suited. A recent report from the Alliance for Connected Care outlined that this efficiency translates directly into dollars saved. Results indicated that 83 percent of telemedicine visits were successful at resolving the issue in one visit, eliminating the need for additional follow-up care. This means that patients are able to receive effective care without the associated physical costs of an in-person visit. 

Improving documentation and risk management

Compliance issues can account for costly expenses for any clinic. Recent changes to documentation requirements due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may create issues for practices that struggle with documentation. According to a report from The Doctors Company, 47 percent of survey respondents indicated that record-keeping was a risk-management factor, specifically when it came to documenting after-hours visits. However, the use of telemedicine technology can ensure that practitioners are keeping records updated whether they see a patient in the office or via telemedicine, which can be a significant factor in reducing costs associated with noncompliance.

To learn more about implementing a telemedicine program and to read up on telemedicine success stories, visit www.amdtelemedicine.com.

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