This article was written by Lisa Miller.
Every hospital needs an effective telehealth strategy to respond to changing patient demands and expectations around care. From online patient portals and virtual visits to remote monitoring, wearable devices, cloud-based medical records and personal health apps, telehealth is transforming the healthcare landscape and the patient experience.
What is Telehealth?
The telemedicine/telehealth sector is growing in the US with a predicted market value of over $130 billion by 2025. That compares to $26.5 billion in 2018. A robust telehealth strategy is vital for every healthcare provider.
The terms telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably but there is a difference in their definition and application.
Telemedicine is designed to facilitate remote consultations and clinical services as well as managing chronic conditions and follow-up visits. It is generally patient-centered.
Telehealth technology is often used for clinical and non-clinical services, including provider training, administrative meetings and continuing medical education. It is designed to support and enhance the entire healthcare organization.
Why Your Hospital Needs Telehealth
By increasing patient access to physicians and specialists, telehealth helps people to receive the care they need, when they need it. For healthcare providers it is a key strategy to manage the health of their patients from a high volume, low-cost perspective.
Telehealth offers hospitals a number of benefits, including:
Enhances patient care in rural communities: In rural communities, patients can often live hundreds of miles away from access to the care they need, such as primary care doctors, specialists or other providers. Likewise, social workers and care managers for chronic diseases may not be available in smaller communities. In these situations, patients may be required to travel excessive distances to access suitable patient care. Telehealth transforms these scenarios for everyone’s benefit:
- Patients receive treatment locally without increased risk or incurring additional costs.
- Local hospitals can expand and enhance their services while improving revenue.
- Care is improved, evidence-based and encompasses best practices.
- Remotely monitoring the health of your patients either at home or in post-acute care settings can result in improved patient outcomes and lower costs.
Furthermore, the CMS has expanded its reimbursement for remote care services, removing some of the previous barriers to telemedicine. In January 2019, it added three new CPT codes for reimbursement of remote patient monitoring.
Improving the Management of Chronic Disease: Telehealth strategies may be particularly effective for patients with chronic disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 6 in 10 American adults have a chronic disease. An estimated 4 in 10 are living with two chronic diseases.
Treating people with chronic diseases accounts for up to 75% of the total US spend on healthcare. Visits to ER and admissions to hospital are more frequent among people with chronic disease. Today, healthcare providers use care management strategies to help to manage the health of their patients and keep them out of hospital. These strategies require ongoing patient contact and frequent monitoring.
Telehealth is the ideal platform to achieve this.
For instance, a telehealth program launched in 2016 to improve care management for patients with chronic illness, reduced visits to ER by half and hospitalizations by nearly 90 percent. The cost of care was also reduced by over 50 percent.
Better Relationships Between Patients and Doctors
Health systems that focus now on their telehealth capabilities will be ideally positioned to respond to patient demands and improve the relationship between patients and physicians as digital transformation continues.
In addition, enhanced relationships and better care result in:
- Fewer hospitalizations and readmissions.
- Reduced lengths of stay.
- Overall improvements in health.
- Higher patient satisfaction.
Overcoming Barriers to Telehealth Implementation
Implementing a telehealth program can be a challenge. For instance, developing and operationalizing telehealth in your hospital can require:
- Additional training for employees to use the technologies appropriately and proficiently before implementation.
- The need to negotiate pricing for new technologies. Benchmarking data and insights can be limited for new and emerging technologies which can hinder effective benchmarking.
Working with a specialist healthcare consulting provider can help to ensure success.
Implement Effective Telehealth Strategies With VIE Healthcare Consulting
At VIE Healthcare, we offer the following services to enable your hospital to implement an effective telehealth strategy:
- We carry out a full assessment of your current telehealth and telemedicine services. This includes your return on investment and the impact of technology across your hospital.
- Identify opportunities to enhance and improve your telehealth and telemedicine services.
- We work with you to develop a 3 to 5-year plan for large-scale telemedicine and telehealth implementation.
- Leverage technology to bridge the gap between physician shortages and growing demand from an aging population.
- Proactively plan for future healthcare trends.