Even as the telemedicine market continues to soar, many doctors have yet to adopt telehealth technology into their practice.
Why? A lot of the resistance among doctors has to do with common misconceptions about telemedicine. And when healthcare providers are already overloaded — or frustrated by their cumbersome EHR systems — they may easily dismiss telemedicine as a solution to their problems.
So, what are those common myths about telehealth? How can doctors be rest assured that telehealth would actually be a smart, practical addition to their top-quality care program?
Let’s review the top reasons physicians don’t try telemedicine.
1) "It’s too expensive."
In a world of increasing budget constraints and greater technology costs, it’s no wonder that doctors would look at a new technology like telemedicine and assume it’s a cost-prohibitive option for them. But with the growth of many new, streamlined telehealth software solutions, starting a telemedicine program doesn't have to be expensive. If you’re looking at secure, live video telehealth solutions, some software vendors simply require a small start-up fee and a monthly subscription fee.
In addition, adding telehealth services can be a way to generate additional revenue for your practice by bringing in additional patients, keeping patients with the practice, justifying a concierge fee for added convenience, or even negotiating higher reimbursement rates because of higher-quality care. For hospital systems, telehealth could help reduce readmission rates – and consequently help avoid penalties.
2) "I can just use an unsecure videochat option like Skype instead."
Free videochat apps like Skype and Facetime were not developed for remote medical diagnosis and are not HIPAA-compliant. This means that any time you use Skype instead of a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform, you are putting your patient’s privacy at risk and breaking the terms of HIPAA.
3) "The telemedicine field is too complicated."
The telemedicine field is a quickly-changing industry and it’s easy to get overwhelmed when researching the many variations and options. But it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Start simple, with a specific use case. For example, you might decide you want to offer live video visits to patients with minor, urgent issues like infections. In this scenario, you’re really just replacing issues you might usually address over the phone, with online video visits.
Then find a true telehealth software partner, once who is an expert in the field and offers customer success support services. They will help answer all your questions and guide you from sign-up to the launch of your new telehealth appointments.
4) "My patients won’t use it."
According to a recent study, 75% of patients expressed interest in telemedicine appointments. Patients are increasingly open to telehealth options, especially as more insurance companies, retail clinics, and large consumer companies like Teladoc offer on-demand, telehealth appointments. Today’s connected patients not only expect doctors to have an online presence (read: a great website), but want to get quick, convenient care.
5) "I need to always do a physical exam."
While doing a physical exam is an important part of diagnosing or treating some conditions, there are plenty of conditions where it’s not necessary – especially when there is already an established doctor-patient relationship. As Dr. Scott Orava explains, in many cases, knowing the patient’s medical history and seeing the patient over video can often be sufficient for diagnosis of minor conditions.
Additionally, consider the many appointments or patient phone calls you currently do without a physical exam. You could simply use telehealth appointment to review lab results, do routine follow-ups, or prescription refills.
6) "I won’t get paid for it."
Many doctors worry that the time they spend doing telehealth visits will go uncompensated. But in many cases, this isn’t true. The traditional reimbursement landscape is quickly adapting to new telemedicine offerings. Additionally, many patients are willing to pay directly for the added convenience of doing a telehealth visit. Also, replacing after-hours or uncompensated phone calls with direct-pay telehealth visits again turns unbillable time into additional revenue for you.
Beyond that, adding telehealth could be a way to attract new patients and grow your practice, which means a big pay-off in the end.
With these common telemedicine misconceptions debunked, are you ready to learn more about starting-up a telemedicine program?