As with any new trend, telemedicine benefits are under scrutiny for whether or not they’re valuable enough to gain traction. Services are continuing to be offered by a growing number of healthcare networks, yet there still seems to be an ongoing debate about the specifics.
One of the particulars on which these conversations tend to focus is the cost with regard to its value and overall benefits. This leads us to wonder: is the value truly evident?
Is Cost Savings Truly One of the Telemedicine Benefits?
It’s no question when you view it from the surface: the average telemedicine visit is less expensive than a typical office visit. This is true for both sides, patient and provider. While it has been found that patients can save anywhere from $19 to $121 on a virtual visit, research has also been found that shows physicians can save about $120 per patient per encounter.
While those numbers look great, some experts are still questioning the validity of telemedicine benefits altogether. Most bring parity laws into consideration, which require payers to reimburse for a telemedicine visit the same they would as an in-person visit. With these laws set in place, some question if the overall savings from a patient perspective will be evident.
What they fail to take into consideration here is that the cost—parity laws in effect or not—is value-based. Today’s environment focuses on tactics revolving around on-demand practices. Consumers have the world at their fingertips and the ability to search for anything and find answers within seconds. For this value, they are willing and happy to pay a price higher than that of a library card.
With digital appointments, patients are also saved the time and expense of traveling to the office for routine visits. This feature is highly valuable for our senior and disabled patients whose travel options may be limited, or for individuals who live in remote areas where there are markedly less local healthcare resources.
Giving Access to Those Who Haven’t Previously Had It
Another suggested criticism surrounding telemedicine benefits is the traffic this could bring. While it’s true that telemedicine offers the luxury of appointments from home—for both parties—it also means there is a greater risk for overutilization.
With traditional, in-office visits, only those who feel they truly need to be seen will take the time to schedule appointments. Conversely, the availability of digital appointments with a provider is so simple and convenient that small nuances will start appearing on your appointment list, critics say.
From the perspective of a physician, would overutilization by patients be considered a negative? If parity laws state that telemedicine visits must be charged at the same rate as in-office visits yet the time needed to help those patients is cut in half, wouldn’t the formula equal to a positive for all parties involved? Patients are able to remove travel, wait times, and exam room times, and providers are able to help twice the number of patients while seeing an increase in revenue.
The Convenience Is Too Great to Overlook
In an article on MobiHealthNews, Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, an Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, stated that “There’s an enormous amount of resistance to cultural change” and that “(Telemedicine) will eventually die off like everything else.” He added that “People also said no to electric cars, by the way.”
While we respect his opinion, it’s tough to find the negativity in an industry that’s set to increase 19% annually from 2018 ($38 billion) to 2025 ($130 billion).
Interested in Finding Out More About Incorporating Telemedicine into Your Office?
While telemedicine benefits may continue to be debated by naysayers, there are providers reaping the rewards of getting into the industry early. If you’re interested in seeing how your office can benefit from the rewarding and prosperous field of telemedicine, join us on one of our retreats.
Enjoy the offerings of an exotic destination while learning how you can generate guaranteed revenue from taking on virtual appointments. Informative sessions are taught by experienced professionals who were once in your shoes and who now want to share their keys to success.