Why the Benefits Outweigh the Initial Cost of Implementing Telehealth
Healthcare organizations around the world are faced with a lot of uncertainty right now and have to make pretty major decisions about their course of action to survive in the new hybrid model of healthcare delivery. What areas do they need to invest in today to survive tomorrow?
Virtual care delivery models have come to the forefront of how both patients and healthcare organizations have survived through the pandemic. Costs for sustainable telehealth programs can seem prohibitive, especially when organizations are still grappling with the effects of COVID-19 on their revenue streams. However, while there is an initial upfront cost to implement telehealth and telemedicine technology, it tells only one chapter of the full financial story.
Telehealth services can have a positive downstream impact on revenue as they increase patient satisfaction and boost key metrics like patient retention and overall ROI. In time, telehealth implementation can bring healthcare organizations more opportunities to recoup initial expenditures and make future care more affordable through cost savings and increased revenue.
How Can a Telehealth Model Reduce Costs and Increase Revenue Over Time?
Telehealth implementations designed to make patients happier and streamline tasks that otherwise cost money and staff time will inevitably repay your organization in the long run (and even the short term, in some instances). Here’s how:
1. Happier patients are more engaged for life.
According to a survey by the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition, almost 80% of patients who used telehealth during the pandemic reported feeling satisfied with their visits and felt that they had been provided with a “sense of access and continuity of care.”
This idea of continuity is important. Satisfied patients are more likely to stick around and engage in their own care long-term. They will be more likely to remain in your facility for additional in-patient services, which is where the majority of a facility’s revenue tends to originate. Considering that even a 5% patient retention rate can increase ROI by up to 95%, initial telehealth costs can be well worth it.
2. Telehealth creates new avenues for care.
With revenue threatened and costs high, increasing the number of care avenues is often a wise move. Telehealth implementation can introduce new care avenues such as “hospital-at-home,” in which patients can receive acute care in their own home environment.
This at-home care model brings high patient satisfaction, low care cost (38% lower than an in-facility care model), and leads to more referrals and recommendations to other potential patients. What’s more, hospital-at-home leads to better patient outcomes. Acutely ill patients who have been treated at home have a 20% lower mortality rate.
Another cost-saving avenue from telehealth is post-acute care. For example, AMD’s telemedicine technology enables remote providers to treat patients in place at skilled nursing facilities, reducing readmission costs, transportation costs, and medicare penalties. Connected, integrated medical devices allow remote healthcare providers to treat patients as if they were there next to them in their facilities.
3. Telehealth reimbursement is now possible.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have introduced expanded reimbursement guidelines and CPT codes for care delivered through telehealth services. Because the pandemic made in-person care more complicated, coverage and federal reimbursement for telemedicine services have increased, from behavioral health to cardiac care. Individual states also follow the suite of expanded reimbursement, but each state still has their own unique guidelines, as outlined on the Center for Connected Health Policy resource site.
Many expanded reimbursement opportunities will be in place until the end of 2023, so the time to elevate your healthcare program is now. Organizations looking to take advantage will need a scalable telehealth platform capable of basic videoconferencing and more sophisticated interactions, including real-time patient data transfer via medical devices.
In short, overall savings and revenue growth will be well worth the initial costs of implementing telehealth. Telehealth improves patient satisfaction, reduces healthcare costs in both the short and long term, and presents more opportunities for reimbursement. Get in touch today to learn more about how AMD can improve your telehealth program to capitalize on these and more opportunities.