Pros and Cons of Telemedicine

BENEFITS OF TELEMEDICINE

More Convenient and Accessible Patient Care

Adding telehealth to your practice offers patients simple, on-demand care without the usual wasted time and cost of most in-person visits. Patient s who live in remote locations or who are homebound or just can’t take off time from work can access care virtually.

Healthcare Cost Savings

Remote analysis and monitoring services and electronic data storage significantly reduce healthcare service costs, saving money for you, your patients and insurance companies. Telehealth can boost provider’s revenue by turning on-call hours into billable time, attracting new patients, reducing no-shows and reducing overhead for providers who decide to switch to a flexible work-from-home model for part of the week.

Extended Specialist and Referring Provider Access

With telehealth patients in rural or remote areas benefit from quicker and more convenient specialist access. You can refer your patient to the specific specialist they need regardless of location or if you’re a specialist looking to expand your patient population telemedicine can help you reach a wider geographic area.

Increased Patient Engagement

When patients are committed to their own healthcare goals it leads to lower costs and improved health. Virtual visits reassure patients that their provider is available and involved with their care making it easier for them to reach out with questions, report early signs and make a follow-up visit if necessary.

Better Patient Care Quality

Telemedicine offers patient-centered approaches such as improved timeliness of care. This is critical to quality patient care as patients can address healthcare issues quickly with real-time urgent care. Telemedicine also lowers a patient’s depression, anxiety and stress levels while allowing fewer hospital admissions.

PROBLEMS FACING TELEMEDICINE

Telemedicine still poses some technical and practical problems for healthcare providers.

Technical Training and Equipment

Restructuring staff responsibilities and purchasing equipment takes time and costs money. Training is crucial to building an effective telemedicine program. Providers, practice managers and other medical staff need to be trained on the new system to ensure a solid ROI.

Reduced Care Continuity

In cases where patients are using telemedicine services that connect them with a random healthcare provider care continuity could suffer. A patient’s primary care provider may not have access to records from previous visits and end up with an incomplete history for the patient. Therefore, telemedicine providers must apply sound data solutions to maintain adequate and accessible records.

Fewer In-Person Consultations

Many providers and patient alike still like a “personal touch” and not all procedures can be performed digitally. However, in cases where a patient just can’t get in to see their provider in-person or find a local specialist telehealth may be the only alternative.

Tricky Policies and Reimbursement Rules

Healthcare laws, reimbursement policies, and privacy protection rules struggle to keep up with this fast-growing industry. As a healthcare provider, you want to promote best practices when approaching telemedicine.
While major developments have been made to telehealth reimbursement over the past couple years, it still remains a common stumbling block for providers interested in telemedicine. It’s best to do a little research into the reimbursement policy landscape in your state before you get started.