Medical professionals can provide healthcare advice in new and exciting ways with the rapidly evolving area of telemedicine. Telemedicine is becoming more of an integral part of our healthcare infrastructure as technologies enable accessible communication across long distances.
You can also discover the incredible benefits that both you and your patients will receive when you start practicing telemedicine. Below are some of the top reasons doctors have begun to practice telemedicine.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is just like seeing your doctor as usual in a hospital or clinic. However, telemedicine uniquely enables both doctors and patients to access the visit from anywhere with a reliable internet connection. For generic visits, it practically eliminates the need for patients to come into a doctor’s office.
More than half of all U.S. hospitals currently have a telemedicine program.
The American Hospital Association reports that "Recent years have seen significant growth in the use of telehealth, to the point where more than half of U.S. hospitals connect with patients and consulting practitioners through the use of video and other technology."
Telemedicine is not just a fad in the healthcare world. Patients are beginning to accept telemedicine as a quick, reliable way to schedule routine doctor visits. And an increasing amount of doctors see the many benefits too. There are quite a few reasons any doctor might want to practice telemedicine.
Statistics show that telemedicine services are here to stay. 74% of patients and health plans are on board. So how might doctors and other medical professionals benefit from practicing telemedicine?
10 Reasons to Practice Telemedicine
There are numerous benefits to practicing telemedicine for doctors and other medical staff. These reasons range from time management to patient satisfaction. It is by no means an exhaustive list but provides insights into what other doctors feel have been their top reasons for practicing telemedicine.
1. Provide Flexible Options for Doctors and Patients
Telemedicine allows doctors to set more flexible work schedules. No longer will you have to endure long, endless hours of work where patients begin to blend into one another. Instead, telemedicine opens up your schedule to fit your needs. Patients, in turn, can also afford to be more flexible. They no longer need to take the time to drive out to a hospital, fill out paperwork, or wait in a waiting room.
Telemedicine is even a convenient solution to fit into a doctor’s regular workflow.
You can see more patients without overfilling your schedule or reducing the quality of care.
2. Expand Care
You can help expand care to more people when you start practicing telemedicine.
Your patients no longer need to live within driving distance of your office. Instead, patients in need can access quality healthcare from virtually anywhere in the country. Plus, telemedicine allows you to extend care for patients suffering from acute problems. By offering options like after-hours visits, you are also providing continued care for acute issues.
Shortages in physicians are negatively impacting people in the U.S. looking for quality care options, especially in specialty care situations. Around 43 specialists are available for every 100,000 rural patients in the U.S. It can be challenging for some Americans to see the doctors they need promptly. This can lead to poor health outcomes in the long run.
3. Increase Income
Telemedicine can improve your income while also cutting costs for patients.
You can see more patients, which automatically translates into more revenue. Plus, telemedicine does not put the same strain on your staff as a regular doctor’s office visit. Patient and doctor interactions occur over video and generally do not last as long as a typical in-person appointment. Your productivity will improve immensely with very little stress to you or your staff.
Patients frequently also prefer the cost-saving benefits of telemedicine. Travel, parking, childcare, and more can add up. In many situations, patients choose to forgo seeing a doctor or a specialist to avoid the extra burden of hidden expenses.
4. Monetize Work You Do for Free
Doctors spend a lot of time on the phone or answering messages. Telemedicine turns that kind of work into more income. Phone and text-based interactions are already a regular occurrence in your day-to-day practice, but telemedicine lets you reap the rewards.
If you start practicing telemedicine, follow-up calls or messages will change into quality video chats.
Not only will you be monetizing your virtual interactions, but you will also be providing a better-quality exchange. More and more patients are looking for telemedicine options. And they are willing to pay. You can lead the way with your practice.
5. See More Patients
Even if you already have a well-functioning and robust clinical practice, telemedicine lets you make the most of your time. You can easily see more patients during downtime in between regularly scheduled appointments. Waiting room features on many telemedicine services allow you to pick up calls when you have spare time.
Telemedicine is also a way to grow your practice beyond your limited physical area. Virtual patients do not necessarily need to come from your current town or even state. And once you start to develop relationships with patients in different geographic regions, you do not need to worry about losing business if you ever need to relocate.
You should also consider how telemedicine appears to potential new patients. They might be looking for the best and easiest care options. If you offer telemedicine services, your practice may already appear the most attractive option.
6. Better Patient Outcomes
Overall, practicing telemedicine is beneficial for your patients. Patients that use telemedicine services regularly can develop a more varied understanding of their personal care and health. Not only do they get better access to the advice of experts, but patients also do not have to wait forever. You can quickly and efficiently answer follow-up questions, talk about medications' concerns, and address problems that might call for immediate changes to treatment plans.
In the long-term, this fast, convenient care enables patients to take an active role in their health. Doctors might catch severe conditions or side-effects before they become detrimental to a patient’s health.
Telemedicine essentially reduces the number of hospital readmissions by giving patients the time they deserve for any worries and concerns after an initial visit to the hospital.
7. Improve Patient Satisfaction
Modern patients are busy, so they may not have the time to spare for in-depth consultations about their healthcare and treatment plans. Telemedicine improves patient satisfaction and provides convenient, simplified healthcare to these types of people. And when healthcare is more convenient, and patients feel they are more connected, they are more likely to be happy with their care. They are more likely to return to the same doctor again if they feel that doctor met their needs.
Telemedicine also boosts patient engagement to new heights. If a patient has the ability to follow-up about their care without jumping through hoops, they will be more interested in discussing their current and future health goals. Engagement is so closely linked to satisfaction because it can be upsetting to feel disregarded by a rushed and confusing, in-person doctor’s appointment. However, if you offer telemedicine services, you are more likely to see happy (and healthy) patients.
8. Minimize Cancellations and No-Shows
Cancellations and no-shows are common occurrences when patients have to add up extra costs, including travel and childcare. A no-show for a doctor can be more than just annoying – it can hurt their practice's bottom line. People also cancel at the last minute when unexpected problems appear, like having a sick child staying home from school.
With telemedicine, many of these types of cancellations and no-shows do not happen anymore.
The ability to remotely interact with a doctor reduces the common reasons patients have for canceling. They can go to their appointment without leaving their house or accruing additional expenses. A doctor can end up seeing everyone they were scheduled to in a given day, and their staff doesn't need to worry about tracking them down to reschedule
9. Limit Exposure to Harmful Viruses
Some in-person visits have become redundant in today’s era of the quick and easy transfer of information. By limiting the times a patient needs to come to a physical location, doctors and other healthcare providers limit exposure to potentially harmful viruses for themselves and other patients.
Whether you are worried about flu season or something more serious, telemedicine's virtual options allow for greater safety and compliance with measures to eliminate risk.
10. Address the Changing Demands of Your Patients
The reach of telemedicine is always evolving. As the demands of patients change, so do the ways doctors use telemedicine to address them. For example, telemedicine is often used to assess the current condition of a patient. If a doctor is concerned about something, they can request to schedule an in-person appointment to determine more specific issues.
Today, people's attitude towards technology is often hyper-focused on how it can be better used to take care of immediate needs and concerns.
Patients are also increasingly turning to quick, retail clinic options. Adopting a telemedicine component to your medical practice can reduce the number of patients you actively lose to Walgreens and CVS minute-clinics. Patients nowadays want some resolution to their urgent, minor issues without the hassle of scheduling appointments. Telemedicine is a great way to address this new demand for timely, convenient care.
Telemedicine is here to stay, and there are plenty of reasons you should consider practicing, too. It is beneficial both to doctors and your patients. And with rapidly expanding forms of telecommunication technologies, telemedicine has never been simpler to join. You can change how you practice medicine as easily as pressing a button.