5 Things You Never Knew About Telehealth
Telehealth is the electronic delivery of healthcare services using virtual care platforms with live audio/video, instant messages, and email. Between the long wait times in doctors’ offices and health centers, and the costs of transportation for many patients, telehealth is the most attainable way to receive the care they need.
With telehealth, patients can receive the convenient, quality care they need from the comfort of their own homes. They can benefit from better access to healthcare, improved quality of care than what they might find nearby, peace of mind, and improved education about their own conditions.
Despite these remarkable benefits, there remain some common misconceptions about remote patient care and telehealth. Here are five things you may not know about this technology:
1. Telehealth benefits providers as well as patients. Benefits also exist for 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, which is especially true after discharge.
2. There are many exciting examples of successful telehealth programs across the country and globe. At Vivify Health in Texas, 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%.
3. Telehealth isn’t just for seniors. Although it primarily began that way, telehealth 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.
4. Nearly 70% of patients say that using telehealth increases their satisfaction with medical care, which is in part 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 actually makes telehealth more appealing.
5. 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.
In 2015, 22 states in the U.S. 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.