Telehealth Integration: How to Maximize the Value of Your Technology Investment
The growing presence of telehealth technology in hospitals and healthcare systems has surged; in fact, telehealth usage is 38 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. The benefits of telemedicine can be felt in not only patient acuity levels but also in patient acquisition and retention rates, all of which have an impact on the bottom line.
Though implementing new technology in healthcare can offer significant financial benefits to an organization, it’s still important to fully vet the program prior to investment. Will telehealth integration deliver cost savings by providing care in a lower-cost environment? Can automation limit some of the administrative costs associated with care delivery? More importantly, will telemedicine improve patient outcomes and experience relative to the cost?
More often than not, the answer will be “yes.” Telemedicine devices, software platforms, and services open wide the digital front doors for healthcare systems, creating greater access to a wider array of patient communities through increased care delivery options. Advancements in virtual care tools, for example, now allow clinicians to remotely examine and treat higher acuity patients, elevating outcomes and minimizing risk.
Maximizing Telemedicine Solutions
With this rapid growth in technology, it can be difficult to see how best to strategize adoption. It all comes down to choosing the right solutions for your organization and then following the proper implementation process to recover telemedicine expenditures and establish a more affordable care delivery model. The question, then, is: How do you go about maximizing the value of your investment in both the short term and long term? The following are often the best places to start.
1. Limit the number of technology platforms.
Finding a one-size-fits-all telemedicine solution is uncommon, so it’s best to invest in technology that addresses myriad care settings and medical specialties. One report found that workers move between an average of 13 apps at least 30 times a day. Consolidation can improve not just productivity but the employee experience overall. Besides, working with fewer telehealth technology vendors means fewer licenses, policies, and fees — as well as alleviating the time and resources needed for support and training.
2. Leverage telehealth to reduce costs.
“No-shows” have become especially problematic in healthcare, costing the industry upwards of $150 billion a year. For individual physicians, missed appointments mean an average loss of $200 per time slot. Telehealth technology in hospitals can help: A recent study found that the no-show rate of telemedicine visits was just 7.5% during the pandemic, whereas pre-pandemic in-office no-show rates were 29.8%. The benefits of telemedicine in decreasing the number of no-shows can be felt by patients and providers alike.
3. Train, train, and train again.
When implementing new technology in healthcare, widespread adoption will make or break your telemedicine program. Many organizations, however, are challenged in this arena. According to a recent study, a combination of training and organizational support can increase adoption rates because the more comfortable people feel about the technology, the more likely they’ll be to use the application or platform. One caveat, though: The solution must be easy to use and useful to their work. Otherwise, it’s a nonstarter.
4. Be realistic.
Telehealth integration takes time. It’s not something to tackle all at once. Take smaller steps to get toward your goal. In fact, digital transformation can take large organizations as many as five years. You’re taking your operations on a digital journey that can only happen step-by-step. Once it proves successful in one program, it’s much easier to expand into others — making application-specific modifications as needed, of course. The reality is that the return on telehealth technology in hospitals, clinics, and other practices may not be felt for years, so setting realistic expectations (and timelines) for any telemedicine initiative is key.
Like digital transformation itself, telehealth integration will be an ongoing journey. As you digitize and automate different processes, procedures, and delivery models, it only stands to reason that adjustments will need to be made. There’s a learning curve with any change, so continue to explore avenues where technology can be of benefit, provide team members with the necessary support, and recognize that you won’t accomplish anything overnight. Given time, however, you’ll witness the value of your investment for years to come. If you’re ready to see a telehealth solution that can take your telemedicine offerings to the next level, reach out for your demo today.