May 26, 2020

Considerations for Incorporating Telehealth in your Practice

Even though telehealth has been around for 40 years, I think it’s safe to say we can now expect it to become the new norm for patient communications. 89% of healthcare leaders expect telehealth to transform U.S. healthcare in the coming decade. Through the first 4 months of 2020, we are experiencing a tremendous spike in usage due to COVID-19. The CDC is recommending video visits to help avoid exposure and reduce the risk of being exposed to germs in the waiting room.  

One quarter of Americans have multiple chronic conditions, which last a year or more and require ongoing medical attention. Time, understanding policies and procedures and integration capabilities are a few reasons providers have been hesitant to onboard telehealth.  

Here are a few benefits that both providers and patients experience from incorporating telehealth.  

Reduced Healthcare Cost  

Providers are charging less for a telemedicine consultation than they would for an in-person visit. Travel expenses are also significantly reduced by using telehealth.  

Less Waiting Room Time  

No more flipping through the same year-old People magazine.

Increase Efficiency Through Better Management of Chronic Disease

Telehealth can limit excessive healthcare resource utilization by allowing providers to intervene faster and address disease exacerbations as they arise.

Better Access to Healthcare Services  

The use of telehealth cuts out travel time and the stresses that come along with the commute. Some patients and family members travel 1-2 hours to see their provider. Having the ability to communicate with providers remotely makes everyone involved happier!

Offering telehealth has many benefits; however, like with any new implementation, there are challenges that we must keep in mind.  

Patients’ Lack of Technical Skills  

The lack of technology understanding can reduce utilization and hamper accessibility causing more harm than good. Not a bad idea to survey each patient to better understand which means of communication works best for them.  

Service Awareness  

If your patients aren’t aware of your service, it won’t get used. Be sure to plan your launch and communicate this through a variety of means- social media, email newsletters, practice website, word of mouth.  

Privacy Concerns

Telehealth has many benefits, but it can also provide a gateway to security and privacy issues.

Unused Space

Transitioning to telehealth means less in-office appointments. This leads to unused space while rent could still be due. Practices all over the country are experiencing this issue due to COVID.  

How are you dealing with unused space as steady revenue has become uncertain? Have you thought about offering in-office infusions to not only to fill the unused space but improve your patients’ level of care as well as compliance to therapy? If you are wondering if biologic infusions should be postponed, guidance from the American College of Rheumatology states: “All patients should talk to their rheumatologist or rheumatology professional prior to discontinuing any of their medications.” I would follow these guidelines for every specialty.  

By offering telehealth and in-office infusions, your practice will be better positioned for the future. It’s been a decade since our last pandemic with HIN1 and prior to that was 1968 with H3N2. We hope and pray this never happens again but if it does, we must be better prepared so that patient care is not interrupted. To learn more about how you can fill your unused space while improving your patients level of care, please visit in-office infusions.

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