Once seen as a novelty, telehealth and other virtual care solutions have become key components of the overall healthcare experience, supplementing in-person visits, and providing benefits to patients and providers alike.
According to a survey by Updox, many providers ranked telehealth the number one technology they believe will have the biggest impact on their practice in 2022 and beyond. Survey respondents noted an increase in patient visits of up to 25% by offering telehealth, with more than a quarter of respondents estimating that at least 10-25% of their visits will be offered via telehealth moving forward. At the same time, for post-pandemic long-term usage, providers want to see continued innovation in telehealth technology to best integrate with the day-to-day needs of practices and how they engage with their patients.
Patients, after all, now expect their healthcare providers to offer telehealth appointment options moving forward. For many people, it allows them to visit with their physicians in a way that is more convenient, comfortable, and accessible. This access is especially beneficial for people in rural areas who can reduce the number of times they must drive to an office or healthcare facility for a visit, and instead, can meet with their physicians virtually. Patients may also be more likely to schedule routine or follow-up appointments if they are able to do them remotely.
Video technologies could help transition telehealth into a more mainstream form of healthcare and provide a more holistic and inclusive environment for all parties. Healthcare technology companies are continually working to improve their video chat and virtual waiting room features to mimic the in-patients experience, and provide the ability to have multiple care team members triage patients more effectively. Patients can even come in and out of the chat as needed, which is an ideal feature for behavioral health and group therapy calls that require parent attendance or translators.
As health care practitioners continue to analyze their current operations and determine their needs post-pandemic, it is clear telehealth must be viewed as part of an overall, long-term strategy. As a result, providers are working to:
· Improve Patient Care & Outcomes: Patients may put off receiving care for a variety of reasons including not wanting to drive far for an appointment or not feeling comfortable having certain conversations in the office. With telehealth, however, patients can conveniently receive the care they need from the comfort of home, thus boosting health outcomes and overall patient satisfaction.
· Reduce Physician Burnout: Telehealth can help assist in reducing burnout by enabling additional staff to address patient concerns so that the burden doesn’t fall on only one physician or nurse. From improving work-life balance to optimizing schedules and reducing time spent on administrative tasks, telehealth can be a valuable asset for practices – especially during times of physician and overall staff shortages.
· Increase a Practice’s Bottom Line: Studies show that up to $250 billion of US healthcare spend will be shifted to virtual or virtually enabled care, like telehealth. As found in the Updox survey mentioned above, providers have experienced increases in patient visits by offering telehealth. These statistics demonstrate that leveraging the technology and optimizing telehealth strategies has a direct impact on a practice’s overall bottom line and can even attract new patients.
Physicians have overwhelmingly responded positively to the implementation of telehealth. According to the American Medical Association over 85% of physicians indicated that telehealth increased timeliness of care and 75% said telehealth allowed them to deliver high-quality care.
Telehealth is making an impact as a convenient, supplemental tool for physician practices. In 2022 and beyond, telehealth must be innovated and leveraged as part of a practice’s overall virtual care strategy to gain higher patient engagement and satisfaction, better patient response rates, a reduction in appointment no-shows, and ultimately, greater practice success.
Adam Laskey is General Manager of Health Service Solutions at EverCommerce where he is responsible for leading the health services (EverHealth) business and portfolio of software solutions & services. For more information, visit www.evercommerce.com/industries/health-services/.