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How Much Should You Spend On Telehealth?

Posted by Teresa Iafolla, Jul 8, 2016

Like adding any new technology to your practice, starting a telehealth program comes with costs. But it can also bring more revenue and huge gains in the quality of your patient care.

 

The trick is figuring out the price tag that makes the most sense for your practice. Before you make the decision to go with a specific telehealth software vendor, you need to answer the question: how much should I spend on telehealth?

 

The answer, of course, is different for every practice and health system. Here are a few key tips for zeroing in on the right number for your telehealth use case and making a smart financial decision.

 

1) Know Your Budget 

Before you start searching for the right telehealth solution, take a look at your practice books. Sit down with your practice manager or accountant and review the numbers. Is your practice in a solid financial place? Do you have the flexibility for a few added costs?

 

Have a ballpark number in mind that you could set aside for your telehealth program, and then use this to shop around. Of course, the goal will be that within a few months, or your first year (depending on your use case), you’ll recoup those costs in revenue and new patients. But you will need some additional capital to cover the upfront costs and play it safe.

 

2) Understand the Associated Costs

One of the most challenging parts of adding any new healthcare technology is understanding all the associated costs that come with it. It’s something you’ve probably already encountered from transitioning your patient records from paper to an EHR system.

 

Thankfully, we’ve found setting up a telehealth program is usually a more streamlined process than that.

 

But it can come with a list of added costs beyond just a basic subscription fee, depending on the telemedicine vendor. Here’s a quick list of potential costs to consider:

  • Monthly or annual subscription fee
  • One-time set-up or implementation fee (always ask what this includes)
  • Equipment costs
  • Staff training
  • Tech support (staff and/or patients)
  • Marketing materials (to promote your new telehealth program)
  • Additional features (like billing, ePrescribe)
  • Server or software installation
  • Time spent by staff
  • Ongoing maintenance, upgrades, training, or other fees

Many telehealth software companies have a basic subscription fee and only offer other services as add-ons. This sometimes makes it difficult to estimate your total bill from just looking at the ongoing subscription fee.

 

At eVisit, we only have two associated costs that cover everything (including ongoing tech support for your staff and patients) – our monthly subscription fee, and a one-time implementation fee that gives you 90 days of implementation support with one of our customer success coaches, marketing materials, training, and more.

 

Always think about costs in terms of upfront fees and ongoing fees. What will you be paying a year from now? Will you need to anticipate holding additional trainings or purchasing additional equipment at the year mark?

 

You may want to create your own checklist of costs, or a list of questions about what you should expect to pay at the time of contract. Here’s an example checklist we created to help healthcare providers better evaluate telehealth software companies and make an informed decision.

 

3) Calculate Projected Revenue

Based on your telehealth use case, calculate your projected revenue from telehealth visits over the course of your first year, and on an annual basis going forward. This is an important number to factor in as you’re weighing projected costs against your budget. Consider:

  • How many healthcare providers will be doing telehealth visits
  • Estimated number of visits per day (or week or month)
  • Average charge for each visit

Then multiply this figure by the amount of business days (or weeks/months) in a year to get your projected revenue. You can also plug in these numbers to our online telehealth ROI calculator to get your annual revenue number.

 

Compare this number against your budget and costs to help figure out a reasonable price point.

 

4) Think Long-term

Remember that adding telemedicine services to your practice is a long-term investment. You’ll have ongoing costs to consider, but you’re also likely to see long-term revenue gains and practice growth. It may be worth it to put in more financial resources now to reap the rewards of a thriving practice later.

 

For instance, beyond just the direct revenue generated, the convenience of telehealth visits could help your practice bring in more patients, and be a marketing strategy in itself.

 

There’s no one right price tag on telehealth software. As long as you estimate what a reasonable budget looks like for your individual practice or health system, and evaluate the potential long-term gains, you’ll know what makes financial sense for your telehealth program.

 

Topics: eVisit Blog Posts, telehealth, Telemedicine

Teresa Iafolla

About Teresa Iafolla

Teresa Iafolla is an expert writer, researcher, and content wrangler who has previously worked as director of content marketing for a telehealth company and associate editor for a healthcare publishing company.

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