Like many of today’s important innovations, telehealth is powered by the latest in information technology. Thanks to cutting edge telehealth platforms, healthcare professionals can make house calls without having to leave the office. Patients can call in emergencies with the benefit of being able to give full explanations of their symptoms using the added information-rich medium of high definition video.
But telehealth platforms are far more than the real-life version of the video phones he saw in 1980s science fiction and never believed would exist until a few years ago. They also provide a host of features and offer a range of advanced capabilities that make it easier for medical business proprietors and practitioners to run their businesses in ways that could scarcely be imagined just 15 years ago.
Here are some of the many ways today’s most advanced telehealth platforms are making life and business easier and more productive for healthcare providers.
1. Improvements in New Business Models
With improved access and higher communications bandwidth come opportunities to create new business models and to further refine them. “Specialists are finding they can launch a telehealth platform,” according to mHealthIntelligence, “offering services online much like a banker, real estate agent, or other business professional.”
Telehealth platforms have made it possible for specialists to bring their services one step closer to the patient, opened up opportunities for extended hours, and provide more attractive options to patients.
2. Improved Patient Engagement
With the growing role of consumer consumption via the Internet, people expect higher and higher levels of choice and opportunities for input. Telehealth platforms facilitate this beautifully and give enterprising practitioners more opportunity to serve these higher expectations.
Furthermore, with easy access to the advice of professional clinicians, patients who would normally shirk a visit to the doctor are more likely to seek professional medical advice.
3. Expanded Access to Care
Research has shown that with the normalization of telehealth portals, significant barriers to medical care have fallen away. This can be seen by comparing the average time for a traditional doctor’s visit (121 minutes) to that of a telehealth visit (16 minutes). The more people learn about how much time they can save, the more reluctance to see their doctor will disappear.
4. Improved Clinical Workflows and Productivity
The primary way telehealth platforms are improving just about every aspect of medical business can be attributed to what we might call clinical bandwidth. Anything that can be done by talking and via high definition video can be done without travel, without waiting, and without the major traditional bottleneck to all healthcare — the limited number of available rooms in which to see patients.
With all these “choke points” effectively evaporated, telehealth platforms make all kinds of medical practices able to see more people more quickly, to process more patient information, and at the end of the day- deliver better patient outcomes.
5. Lower Overhead
With less demand on brick and mortar assets, medical entrepreneurs are able to get new practices up and running faster with less need for investment in square footage.
It means less expense for the patient as well. The average emergency room visit costs roughly $1,500, and the average doctor’s visit costs $150. Of course, we can’t do away with these completely. But with the lower cost of a telehealth visit ($80 avg.), more transactions take place at a lower cost for everyone involved.
6. Better Quality Healthcare
In the traditional model, minor consultations are almost as expensive and time-consuming as more in-depth interventions. Telehealth platforms make it possible for low-level consultations to take place at very little expense and in very short amounts of time. What’s more, patient no-shows have dropped precipitously as a result of this technology.
It can be expected that as these portals become more and more accessible to patients, we will eventually see patient no-shows become virtually a thing of the past. That means more work for doctors, fewer bills slipping through the fingers of accounts payable, and greater value for the healthcare consumer.
7. Improved Patient Satisfaction
With all of the improvements we’ve talked about so far, there is one boon to your business that telehealth platforms deliver in spades, and that is patient satisfaction. When it comes to serving patients and earning their loyalty, convenience matters, as does lower costs. But nothing boosts patient loyalty like improved healthcare outcomes- and that’s what telehealth platforms deliver most.
The growth trend has been measured quite thoroughly since 2013, and it looks like this:
Growth of Patient Returns & Satisfaction (in millions)
- 2013: 0.35%
- 2014: 0.64%
- 2015: 1.16%
- 2016: 2.11%
- 2017: 3.84%
- 2018: 7%
- 2019: 12%
- 2020: 50%
Clearly, the dramatic rise in patient retention satisfaction we see this year through telehealth platforms is about COVID-19 containment. But the elevated exposure of patients and clinicians to telehealth platforms is all but certain to result in more patients understanding the benefits of this technology and seeing it as part of a major value proposition from any healthcare provider who offers this kind of access.
At the end of the day, the benefits for both doctors and patients are demonstrated, and growth projections from here are simply staggering.