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Is the ROI on Telemedicine Real?

By now you’re familiar with the benefits of telemedicine. By expanding access to specialists beyond the physical boundaries of one office, telemedicine can save lives, such as delivering care within those crucial minutes after a stroke. Patients can also save money when they don’t need to travel to distant clinics or take time off from work. Yet many providers are wondering what the ROI is for healthcare organizations and private practices.

Here are a few ways telemedicine can boost your reimbursement:

  • Telemedicine can decrease the no-show rate, since bad weather and transportation issues are no longer a factor. The rate of medical appointment no-shows on average ranges between 7-15% nationally and may be as high as 30%, primarily because of inconvenience. The Center for Health Affairs reported that missed medical appointments cost providers $150 billion in 2013.
  • Some specialties can drive higher ROI by better utilizing technology in specific locations. If a main office is located in an urban area where traffic is consistently heavy or patients must use public transportation, telemedicine can make scheduling appointments more attractive. Satellite offices can also take on patient load from overbooked main offices through telemedicine solutions.
  • Capacity management is another way to drive higher revenue. Your inpatient facility may be full; your private practice may have a full schedule of in-office visits. But even if you can’t add more live consults, telemedicine can allow for additional visits without slowing down your office traffic. Hospitals can better utilize their existing staff.
  • Cloud-based solutions also allow ways to increase reimbursement. Let’s say a provider administers an ECG for an established patient who is in for a routine exam. The test strip can be recorded and saved in the patient’s electronic medical record on a cloud server; the specialist then signs in later, reviews the ECG, and enters a note in the record. These ancillary tests provide revenue without adding patients to an already busy schedule. Other connected medical devices used for virtual care include: vitals, digital stethoscope, ultrasound, examination camera, dermoscope, ophthalmoscope, EEG and x-ray machines.

According to the National Health Council, ongoing and chronic disease affect approximately 133 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population. In addition to improving the continuity of care for these patients, telemedicine can offer providers a more efficient way to monitor patient compliance and reduce hospital readmissions – and boost their reimbursement.

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