Benefits of Telemedicine

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  American Telemedicine Association     Telemedicine has been growing rapidly because it offers four fundamental benefits: · Improved Access – For over 40 years, telemedicine has been used to bring healthcare services to patients in distant locations. Not only does telemedicine improve access to patients but it also allows physicians and health facilities to expand their reach, beyond their own offices. Given the provider shortages throughout the world--in both rural and urban areas--telemedicine has a unique capacity to increase service to millions of new patients.

 · Cost Efficiencies – Reducing or containing the cost of healthcare is one of the most important reasons for funding and adopting telehealth technologies. Telemedicine has been shown to reduce the cost of healthcare and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, reduced travel times, and fewer or shorter hospital stays.

 · Improved Quality – Studies have consistently shown that the quality of healthcare services delivered via telemedicine are as good those given in traditional in-person consulations. In some specialties, particularly in mental health and ICU care, telemedicine delivers a superior product, with greater outcomes and patient satisfaction.

 · Patient Demand – Consumers want telemedicine. The greatest impact of telemedicine is on the patient, their family and their community. Using telemedicine technologies reduces travel time and related stresses for the patient. Over the past 15 years, study after study has documented patient satisfaction and support for telemedical services. Such services offer patients the access to providers that might not be available otherwise, as well as medical services without the need to travel long distances.   Are you ready to upgrade your medical practice to incorporate telemedicine? Over half of all U.S. hospitals use telemedicine, and this trend is rising. In fact, in a recent survey of healthcare executives found 90% had already begun developing or implementing a telemedicine program into their organizations. Even healthcare providers in smaller, independent practices are starting to adopt telehealth to compete with local retail clinics and stop losing their patients. While the telemedicine industry is growing, there are still a few challenges to consider. Adding new technologies and processes to your practice is a big move and shouldn’t be taken lightly. This post outlines the pros and cons of telemedicine that you should consider before deciding whether to upgrade your patient services.   BENEFITS OF TELEMEDICINE Adopting the latest telemedicine initiatives can help your practice achieve numerous benefits. You can lower healthcare costs, drive up practice efficiency and revenue, provide your patients better access to healthcare services, and ultimately get happier, healthier patients who stay in your practice. More Convenient and Accessible Patient Care   According to a recent Cisco global survey, 74% of patients prefer easy access to healthcare services over in-person interactions with providers. In today’s healthcare world, convenience is key. Adding telehealth to your practice offers patients simple, on-demand care – without the usual wasted time and cost of most in-person visits.  Patients who live in remote locations, or who are homebound or just can’t take off time from work, can access care virtually. Video conferencing, smartphone apps, and online management systems connect more patients with providers than ever before. Healthcare Cost Savings Remote analysis and monitoring services and electronic data storage significantly reduce healthcare service costs, saving money for you, your patients, and insurance companies. Telemedicine also reduces unnecessary non-urgent ER visits and eliminates transportation expenses for regular checkups. Recently, the American Hospital Association reported on a telemedicine program that saved 11% in costs and more than tripled ROI for investors.

RExtended Specialist and Referring Physician Access With telehealth, patients in rural or remote areas benefit from quicker and more convenient specialist access. In the U.S., for every 100,000 rural patients, there are only 43 specialists available. These patients endure longer appointment commutes and have trouble accessing lifesaving consultations for specific diseases or chronic care plans. Telemedicine offers better access to more specialists. You can refer your patients to the specific physicians they need, regardless of location. Or, if you’re a specialist looking to expand your patient population, telemedicine can help you reach a wider geographic region.       Increased Patient Engagement When patients are committed to their own healthcare goals, it leads to lower costs and improved health. Ernst & Young Senior Advisory Services Manager Jan Oldenburg told Healthcare IT News that “”[t]he high cost of disengaged consumers affects everybody.” Engaging your patients through telemedicine can help them maintain appointments and care schedules. Increased engagement initiatives can also curb obesity rates and tobacco use by helping you to encourage your patients’ healthy lifestyle choices. Not only do virtual visits reassure patients that their doctors are available and involved in their care, it makes it much easier for them to reach out with questions, report early warning signs, and make a follow-up appointment to make sure they’re on track. Better Patient Care Quality Telemedicine offers patient-centered approaches, such as improved timeliness of care. This is critical to quality patient care. Patients can address healthcare issues quickly with real-time urgent care consultations and learn about treatment options within minutes. A new study shows that telemedicine patients score lower for depression, anxiety, and stress, and have 38% fewer hospital admissions.        

Telemedicine is changing the way we experience healthcare. There’s no doubt about it. Patients are becoming more and more open to the idea every day, especially when they realize telemedicine means more convenient, accessible healthcare. Healthcare providers too are starting to see the benefits: better care outcomes, less hospital readmissions, happier patients, and more profitable practices. As a result, telemedicine is on the rise.But don’t just take our word for it! We did an extensive survey of the current data and research on telemedicine to back up these claims. Check out the 36 stats below for all the details on current trends and findings in the telemedicine field.

The Growth of Telemedicine

  1. More than half of all U.S. hospitals currently have a telemedicine program.1
  2. The global telemedicine technologies market, including hardware, software, and services, was valued at $17.8 billion in 2014 and is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.4% from 2014 to 2020.2
  3. There will be about 800,000 online consultations in the U.S. in 2015.3
  4. About 90% of surveyed healthcare executives report that their organizations have already begun developing or implementing a telemedicine program.4
  5. About 84% of surveyed healthcare executives felt that the development of telemedicine services is either very important (52%) or important (32%) to their organizations.4
  6. About 22% of employers with 1,000 or more employees currently offer telemedicine services, and another 37% of employers plan to offer telemedicine services to their employees by the end of this year.5
  7. The three states with the highest telemedicine adoption rates are Alaska (75%), Arkansas (71%), and South Dakota (70%).6
  8. Telemedicine makes up nearly one-fourth of the health IT market, which was valued at $15.6 billion in 2014 and is expected to increase to nearly $20 billion by 2019 with a compound annual growth rate of 4.8%.7
  9. As of August 2015, Congress has 26 bills pending that could affect telemedicine across the country.1
  10. The number of patients using telemedicine services will increase to 7 million in 2018, up from less than 350,000 in 2013.8
  11. Already, 29 states require health insurers to pay for telemedicine services (as of August 2015).1

How Patients Feel About Telemedicine

  1. About 74% of patients in the U.S. would use telehealth services.9
  2. Most patients are comfortable with having all of their health records securely available on the cloud.10
  3. About 74% of patients are comfortable with communicating with their doctors using technology instead of seeing them in person.10
  4. About 76% of patients care more about access to healthcare than need for human interactions with their healthcare providers.11
  5. Only 16% of patients would prefer to go to the emergency room for a minor ailment if they also could access telemedicine services.12
  6. About 67% of patients said that using telemedicine somewhat or significantly increases their satisfaction with medical care.12
  7. About 30% of patients already use computers or mobile devices to check their medical or diagnostic information.11

Telemedicine In Action

  1. After telemedicine services were employed by the Veterans Health Administration post-cardiac arrest care program, hospital readmissions decreased by 51% for heart failure and 44% for other illnesses.11
  2. According to a study on the Geisinger Health Plan, patient readmissions were 44% lower over 30 days and 38% lower over 90 days, compared to patients not enrolled in the telemedicine program.11
  3. A study of the outcomes of care for 8,000 patients who used telemedicine services found no difference between the virtual appointment and an in-person office visit.13
  4. About 21% of patients who have used telemedicine services say the quality of care was similar to or higher than an in-person visit.12