The world of health treatment is expanding in our net-based existence and it is approaching realms that were never before considered. Telehealth has become one of the hottest methods of analysis and treatment and, as more organizations and professionals partner into this vertical, it is showing some incredible advantages that are saving lives. But, as with any evolution of change, there are some opportunities that work incredibly well, and others, not so much.
Telehealth has been misperceived as being a baseline for urgent care only. In a Harris Poll, sixty percent of those interviewed indicated an interest in telehealth to see their physician online to assist with chronic condition management. This interest in increasing as more specialty care, follow-up care and chronic care organizations and professionals join the telehealth programs. Some that are high on the list of success involve medication counseling to assist with those that have diabetes.
No matter how marvelous your smartphone is, a complete physical and thorough patient examination cannot be done (yet). While we do have more sophisticated video telehealth that offers face-to-face interaction, there is a lot more that is required as part of the provider/patient interaction for an appropriate examination. Vital data such as blood pressure, temperature, heart/lung/inner ear images are still required. But fear not, there are companies such as Tyto Care that are creating the kind of technologies that can bring at-home examinations forward. We might not have the full Star Trek Tricorder, but we are moving in that direction.
Those that wait, may be left in the dust, and this is especially important when it comes to the topic of reimbursement. Patients and consumers are already seeking those providers that have implemented telehealth solutions. Those in the know are advising that you add telehealth, whether or not there is a reimbursement path set up. Look into some of the organizations that have already added telehealth programs in risk-based contracts, new access fees and bundled payments. These programs help in the reduction (or even removal) that is involved in risk reimbursement while positioning the medical organization or professional at the top of the list for adding valued service.
Trying to use existing EMR services is not the best approach and it won’t encourage the new patients to turn to you. This will reduce your revenue stream potential. The goal is to offer a sophisticated telehealth solution that engages current patients and brings new business. Standard EMR is all about managing existing patients and, EMR vendors don’t understand the psychology of the consumer. Their existing services aren’t available on the electronic devices used by the patients. However, don’t give up hope as of yet. There are some leading EMR vendors that are expanding into the telehealth realm, and a few are offering EMR telehealth integration as an out-of-the-box solution.
One of the concerns of many medical organizations and professionals is that telehealth eats up a lot of the technology budget by requiring IT resources. This is actually a kind of ‘myth’ as the telehealth industry is moving forward so fast that it can be integrated in existing IT structures in only a few days or weeks. The latest software development kits (SDKs) and APIs are empowering healthcare organizations to add telehealth into current apps and services.
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