Many economic and social changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic were new and somewhat unexpected, such as how we think about entertainment, home living, schooling, and saving for tomorrow. Others, on the other hand, were already well on their way, and the pandemic simply brought those changes about more quickly. Examples include increased remote work and the replacement of outdated, manual, and in-person processes with faster, tech-based automated ones.
Telehealth services are a perfect example of both. They exemplify the efficient use of tech-based solutions to perform remote work and lower error rates, wait times, and the cost of doing business. Telehealth also allows us to replace slow, manual, and in-person processes with faster, automated ones while improving user satisfaction rates and providing better, more accurate, timelier, and more relevant data to users and service providers alike.
According to research from the American Hospital Association:
- Almost 75% of U.S. consumers would use different telehealth services if they were available to them.
- 70% of patients are comfortable communicating and interacting with their health care provider using tools and technologies such as text, email, and video instead of in-person visits.
- 30% of patients already use IT devices, such as computers and mobile devices, to find medical and diagnostic information.
These figures make a compelling case for the use of telehealth. Here are five specific ways in which telehealth services can help you save time and money.
Related: The Impact of COVID-19 on Telehealth Infographic
Little or No Travel to and from Appointments
Depending on your condition or query, you may be able to find information, diagnose your illness, or receive other forms of assistance from a doctor or an automated service from the comfort of your home. Telemedicine works with mobile devices, computers, tablets, and most other personal digital devices. Using video conferencing, email, phone calls, and even text messages, patients can quickly and conveniently reach their health care provider, discuss their issues, and receive guidance on what they need to do. This is particularly useful for patients in rural areas where limited access to health care services and going to a far-flung doctor can take an entire day.
Telehealth eliminates geographical borders, reduces the cost of “seeing” a doctor, and makes it easier – and therefore more likely – that a patient will connect with a doctor for help.
Reduced Wait Times
Long wait times at the doctor’s office are an unfortunate reality in our healthcare system. Wait times of 30 minutes or more per doctor’s visit are not uncommon. Telehealth can drastically reduce these wait times and increase efficiency thanks to automated (and on-time) scheduling and the availability of more slots per care provider. Compared to the travel and wait times for in-person visits, telehealth can easily save the average patient an hour or more per visit and allow providers to see more patients in less time.
We cannot ignore the wider social and economic costs that slow, overbooked, and inadequate in-person health visits collectively cost us. If an individual has to take time off from work, pay a babysitter, or pay for a trip to the doctor instead of being able to speak with their doctor from home or elsewhere wherever convenient, these costs can quickly add up. The costs are particularly disproportionate for common illnesses such as the flu or mild fever.
Telehealth eliminates many of these costs, making it possible for you to receive care without having to take the day off, pay for help, or make other arrangements or changes to your day. The long-term benefits of quicker diagnoses and better access to health services compound over time.
According to one report, the median cost for video-based virtual visits is about $50, which is less than $85 for treatment at a doctor’s office for low-level health issues. Visits for serious issues at an urgent care facility cost about $130 on average, and the average emergency room visit costs $740. Telehealth can drive considerable savings if a patient must pay the full cost of treatment themselves before they reach their insurer’s deductible.
In many cases, telehealth service providers provide electronic or virtual doctor’s meetings at a fixed, per-meeting rate. This brings about a great deal of predictability – to the benefit of providers and users alike. Furthermore, by operating physical offices for fewer hours every day or fewer days every week, providers can reduce the operational costs of maintaining a brick-and-mortar service location by opting for more telehealth care.
Related: Getting Telehealth Right: Designing and Deploying a Robust, Cost-Effective Telehealth Solution
Improved Access, Particularly for Mental and Behavioral Health
According to a recent health care employer survey, almost 75% of employers offered behavioral telehealth services. This makes sense because this type of care does not require labs or extensive in-person interaction, and many patients are attracted by the privacy aspect of conducting meetings with behavioral health specialists from their home. Furthermore, because these types of services can be provisioned to anyone, anywhere, patients with mental health illnesses can particularly benefit from improved access to caregivers without the geographic, interpersonal, and many cost and time overheads associated with this type of long-term, regular care.
In addition to the above, there are important second-level benefits that can accrue from the use of telehealth, including the following:
- Telehealth can help you keep patients with your practice, as it allows you to offer more immediate care than your practice can otherwise provide. With telehealth, you can keep your patients and prevent them from having to visit the ER, urgent care, or other retail service providers when you can effectively care for them virtually.
- Telehealth allows you to optimize your time by auto-scheduling new patients for a telehealth visit when you have a no-show or cancellation.
- Telehealth helps you improve compliance and document management, since manually checking no-shows and follow-ups against required treatment regimens can be eliminated with automated telehealth solutions, many of which come with built-in data and document-capturing features. Managing and tracking patient care when they do not show up for scheduled meetings is a major source of risk – health risk for patients and legal risks and liability for providers.
Learn More About Kajeet’s Enterprise IoT Telehealth Offerings
Kajeet partners with healthcare providers to enable cost-effective, high-performance connected health across an increasing number of wireless devices—all within your HIPAA-friendly environment. Learn more about Kajeet Connected Health or contact us today to learn more about how our enterprise IoT solutions for telehealth can make a difference for you and your patients.