Telemedicine has been shown to save time, money, and even patient lives. It can be used to treat underserved populations, allow physicians efficient access to rural areas, and help drive patient compliance. Telemedicine isn’t here to replace face-to-face interactions, but rather extend the doctor/patient relationship beyond the walls of a private practice.
"Telehealth statistics show that industries across the healthcare continuum — including home care, hospitals, accountable care organizations, behavioral health and more — are benefiting from using telehealth technology to support their clients, patients and employees." says Karen Thomas, president of Advanced TeleHealth Solutions.
So can telemedicine help improve your practice? The short answer is yes; yes it can. Telemedicine is becoming main stream as patients are scheduling appointments online, emailing questions to their doctors, filling prescriptions electronically, and texting pictures to their providers. The smartphone and telehealth software are changing the way we understand healthcare, offering opportunities for better connectedness and efficient patient care.
The average length of an office visit can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. However, with telehealth software, it can be effectively reduced to a 3-5 minute visit. In addition, embracing a type of telehealth software can also help reduce last minute cancellations/no-shows as automated electronic reminders can be easily generated and sent to patients before their visits. This simple process can inform patients of their upcoming appointment (and any cancellation policies) and help drive compliance. Something as simple as minimizing cancellations is an easy way to save a practice tens of thousands of dollars, recouping what would have otherwise been lost revenue.
Telemedicine visits can help triage urgent requests to see a doctor outside of office hours, mental health visits required for follow-up, and prescription refills, as well as follow up for diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and hyperthyroidism.  It can also help health care providers deliver preventive care that could potentially save healthcare billions by preventing hospitalizations. 
Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association outlined the telemedicine shift this way: “Some form of telemedicine has existed in primary care for a long time. What’s different is the change in technology and access to broadband that makes it more widely available to doctors and patients.” 
In a recent survey published by Telemedicine and e-Health, the data showed that most patients (68%) were "likely to be accepting of telehealth care to the home using video call and that most have the required technology." This acceptance of video conferencing (as opposed to an in-office visit) further confirms the shift toward tech-savvy patients and providers.
Telemedicine is here to stay and it is allowing physicians convenient (and secure) access to their patients, while enabling streamlined procedures and efficient communication. Sounds like a win-win for both doctors and patients.
- Six Ways Telemedicine Can Address Healthcare Challenges
- How to Get Started: Telemedicine Training
- How Telemedicine Can Connect Underserved Patients to Providers
- On November 18, 2014, American Telemedicine Association Senior Staff will provide their perspective on the latest news in the industry, as well as breaking developments in federal and state telehealth policy. This videocast is free and open to both ATA members and non-members. Pre-registration not required: This Month in Telemedicine - Free Videocast
2. Crane, M. Medical Economics. “Integrating telemedicine into your practice.” July 2014. Available at: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/content/tags/american-telemedicine-association/integrating-telemedicine-your-pract?page=full
2. Ahmed, M. Power Your Practice. “How Telemedicine Can Connected Underserved Patients to Providers. 2014. Available at: http://www.poweryourpractice.com/medical-technology-trends/how-telemedicine-can-connect-underserved-patients-to-providers/