Telehealth computer illustration

5 Things You Never Knew about Telehealth

Telehealth, or telemedicine, is the electronic delivery of healthcare services using virtual care platforms with live audio, instant messages, email, and live video. Doctors’ offices and health centers are busier than ever, and with costs of transporting to those locations rising, for many patients, telehealth is the most attainable way to receive the care they need – they can receive that care from their own homes.


Telehealth is remarkable because it has the potential to help expand patient access to healthcare by eliminating barriers like a lack of transportation, prohibitive high costs, and mobility issues. Patients benefit from better access to healthcare, improved quality of care, peace of mind and daily assurance, and improved education.


There remain some common misconceptions about remote patient care, or telemedicine, however; following are five things you may not know about telehealth:


    1.       Telehealth benefits more than patients; it benefits clinicians, health systems, and healthcare payers. Clinicians benefit from more efficient treatment of more patients at a time, more timely delivery of information, and more accurate patient information. Healthcare payers enjoy lower costs, improved payer quality scores, and better, more meaningful utilization. Health systems see a lower risk of hospital readmission penalties, along with improved capacity for patient care – this is especially true after discharge.


    1.       There are plenty of exciting examples of success across the country. At Vivify Health, telehealth solutions are being implemented to manage care for those with chronic disease. The company offers an intuitive and easy-to-use toolset that continually engages patients, promotes positive behavior, and enables timely clinical intervention for effective chronic disease management. Customers using Vivify Health solution typically reduce readmissions by as much as 50%.


    1.       Telehealth isn’t just for seniors. Although it primarily began that way, telehealth today has expanded to include patients of all ages. While Medicare saved $670 million and avoided over 20,000 readmissions by discharging patients to home health services instead of traditional care models, there are other populations who are now effectively managed by telehealth including pediatric patients, organ transplant patients, and high-risk pregnancy patients, among others.


    1.       Almost 70% of patients say that using telehealth increases their satisfaction with medical care, and that in part is because so many patients also report that telemedicine increases their personal involvement in their own care. If you wonder whether the lack of face-to-face benefits is enough to slow the popularity of telehealth, it isn’t: Patients report that being at home makes telehealth more appealing.


    1.       Insurance companies are covering telehealth more and more every day. Sometimes, coverage is offered at the same rates as normal in-office visits. However, more than half of patients today have no idea if their insurance companies provide coverage. Since related costs are significant indicators of how likely they would be to participate in telemedicine, it would be incredibly beneficial for companies to make patients aware of the coverage that exists. As of 2015, 22 states in the country required insurers to reimburse for telehealth visits and in-office visits equally. As of July of 2018, that number increased to 34 states requiring that private insurance reimburse for telemedicine. Many states also provide Medicaid coverage for telehealth, as well.


As 2018 nears its fourth quarter, innovations in technology help incorporate telehealth services and remote patient care with more support each passing day. From patients to providers to healthcare payers, there are many groups who benefit from this way of providing services through telehealth systems, and we can expect to see its influence increase across a number of additional patient groups and specialties in the near future.

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