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Telehealth as a Health System Expansion Strategy

Note that this is the final segment of a 4-part telehealth series. Make sure to also check out: Can Telehealth help in the battle against the opioid crisis? CMS is increasing Telehealth access – but, is the timing right? Could Telehealth reimbursement concerns stall its implementation?

A top goal for many health systems is expansion as well as lowering cost, which makes telehealth is a logical way to achieve both but how exactly do you go about it? As a continuation of our panel discussion from the HFMA Florida Spring Conference Annual Meeting in St. Petersburg, FL, we will look at where virtual care will lead us in the future, specifically in terms of healthcare organization’s expansion strategies.

There are two main channels for telehealth services, including remote patient monitoring or virtual visits for acute or chronic care. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health System uses both “By combining different aspects of telehealth modality – remote patient monitoring and virtual visits – we are changing how we can deliver care and how we are organizing care around patients.” This is especially helpful for patients with chronic conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes. Through remote patient monitoring, healthcare providers can be notified when blood sugar issues arise and deploy needed resources such as a virtual visit, or by contacting the patient’s pharmacy who also advises the patient and provides required medication.

Virtual visits can help within the physical office as well since “studies have shown that chronic care patients are bottle-necking access to face-to-face doctor visits for other patients who can be easily seen.” We have all had the displeasure of waiting weeks or even months for an appointment to see a doctor due to capacity issues. Telehealth could help clear bottle-necks and also help facilitate expansion.

Plus, telehealth is a service that patients are asking for with data showing that “20% of consumers would switch care providers for one who offered the option of video visits.” Organizations that are quick to accept this new technology, there is the opportunity to possibly pull market share away from competitors at rates that haven’t been seen in a long time. Additionally, “Younger generations lead the charge, with 26% of those ages 18-34 and 30% of those ages 35-44 being willing to switch. Not surprisingly, the number is also higher for parents: 34% would switch.” With data like that, it is clear to see where future expansion lies for health systems. If your organization is not on the path towards telemedicine yet, you should be.

Implementing an effective telemedicine system is key to this type of expansion strategy success. Healthcare providers need to make sure to include key players in the planning and execution. It is especially important for physicians to have ownership, including leadership roles, to help promote adoption. Executive-level buy-in is also essential for high-level officials to understand the value of telehealth. Of course, as technology continues to grow, new opportunities will arise, and improvements can be made. Ongoing review and analysis of the systems in place will be essential to make sure patients perceive value and their experiences are positive.

Telehealth as a health system expansion strategy is a smart tool for health plans and systems. Given the demand by younger generation is not going away any time soon. The sooner adoption takes place, the more likely an organization can compete for increased market share from other healthcare providers who are slower to change.

Sunlit Cove Healthcare can help your organization with its telehealth expansion strategy. Contact us or give us a call to get started.

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Sunlit Cove Healthcare Consultants

We provide management and consulting services to help healthcare businesses run efficiently. Navigating the dynamic and complex revenue cycle management is a challenge for many health plans, health care vendors, and providers. Our consulting services are available to assist with your day-to-day operations and provide expertise in growth and change management. We manage all aspects of your enterprise from the development of the revenue cycle management process to the completion of your business cycle.

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