If you’re working at a health system and don’t yet have a telemedicine solution in the works, you’re behind.
The truth is, an overwhelming majority of surveyed healthcare executives (90%) say they’re currently working on developing a telemedicine program. That stat alone tells us that telemedicine is more than a trend — it’s becoming a key strategy for health systems looking to provide the very best patient care.
Telemedicine has been around for awhile, but it’s only just started to become a truly cost-efficient, feasible solution in the past few years, as technology has advanced exponentially and patients have come to expect a new model of connected care.
And as hospitals work tirelessly to find new, innovative ways to cut costs while also improving patient care outcomes, telemedicine is a strategy that has risen to the top for a number of reasons.
Here are six reasons why hospitals are adopting telemedicine programs:
1) Reduce hospital readmission rates
As many providers working in hospital systems know, there’s a constant drive to keep down those readmissions rates — or suffer the penalty. Beyond the potential financial penalty, it’s obvious that patient care is not being effectively managed when the unnecessary readmission rates are high.
Telemedicine provides a way to keep those readmissions rates down. One study by the Home Care Association of New York (HCA) examined telehealth interventions in five healthcare facilities across patients with heart failure, COPD and pneumonia, finding average readmission decreases ranging from 7% to 26%.
Because telemedicine solutions make it easier for patients to follow-up with questions and red flags, they increase the opportunity to catch and prevent a problem before it becomes another expensive, avoidable hospital stay.
2) Better medication adherence
According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, medication adherence can lead to almost $300 billion in avoidable healthcare costs this year. In addition, when patients don’t follow the treatment plans you prescribed, they’re likely to end up right back in the hospital with the same problems.
Using telehealth video visits to do follow-up check-in visits give patients a simple, convenient and streamlined way to get clarification on their treatment plans — and allows you to see how they’re doing without requiring a full, in-person visit.
3) Efficient post-operation follow-ups
As many orthopedic surgeons have told our team, they can spot-check a surgical wound in less than 30 seconds. But typical in-person patient appointments usually take much more time. That’s less time surgeons spend in the OR and more wasted traveling or waiting time for patients.
For that reason, many surgeons are using telehealth visits to conduct their post-operation follow-ups. With a simple spot-check over video, they can send patients on their way or e-prescribe any needed antibiotics without the recovering patient having to leave their home.
4) Extend access to specialty care
It’s expensive to keep a fully staffed hospital running with access to all specialties. Many telemedicine companies now allow hospitals to hire out remote specialists to extend their specialty care programs. Or, even a simple telehealth solution can help give patients in one location access to your specialists at another branch. You can grow your care program without hiring additional FTEs.
5) Improves care outcomes.
All of these reasons to adopt telemedicine adds up to a better care program. When patients have an easy, virtual way to connect with their doctors, ask questions and prevent avoidable hospital visits, they’re more likely to have positive care outcomes. And like your readmissions rates, patient care outcomes are a metric you should be paying close attention to as you look to level-up your quality-of-care.
If you’re not yet looking at adding telehealth to your health system, start shopping around now. Adding telemedicine is not just a strategy for improving your patient care program, it’s becoming a basic, expected service to keep you competitive with other health systems.
Need some help selecting the right telehealth solution for you? Check out our complete guide to choosing a telehealth software solution.