DoseSpot Forecast: 3 Segments Positioned for Telemedicine Growth
It is no surprise that technology should be considered a key player as we shift to value-based care. With smartphones, tablets, and computers, health information is readily available for patients with a simple click of a button. Why should a consultation with a healthcare professional be any different?
Telemedicine greatly increases the scope of the healthcare industry and is bound to open huge opportunities in increasing healthcare quality. The ultimate goal is to prevent hospital readmissions by better managing individuals with chronic conditions while reducing associated costs. By enabling remote patient monitoring and remote access to clinicians, market growth is inevitable as awareness and implementation of standards for reimbursement and adoptions of these care models expand.
How is Telemedicine Defined?
According to the American Medical Association, there are two types of telehealth.
1. Synchronous telemedicine happens when real-time telephone or audio/video communication happens between doctor and patient at different locations but at the same time.
2. Asynchronous telemedicine is when data and information are collected from the patient, often through recording devices, patient portals, or even remote patient monitoring equipment that will be evaluated and interpreted later by a practicing healthcare professional.
While some reports claim that technology gets in the way of the patient experience, patients demand such access to care in an ever-growing digital world. This increase in patient demand for telehealth services has prompted many companies and healthcare organizations to think outside the box and reevaluate the patient-centric mode.
What a Virtual Care Model Means to a Patient
It’s simple. Patients want a customized, cost-effective, convenient healthcare experience to fit into their busy lifestyles.
According to a recent report published by Sage Growth Partners, about 70% of study participants who are practice physicians and 56% of study participants who identified as hospital executives revealed that they are focused on sustaining or optimizing their telemedicine programs.
This is good news for patients. Delivering quality care is being prioritized as telehealth programs develop.
After providing ePrescription services to a host of clients across healthcare verticals and specialties, we predict the most growth in three different segments:
Behavioral Health and Addiction
Telemedicine can bridge gaps-in-care of behavioral health patients and providers. It provides a convenient, more comfortable, and less expensive medical consultation. It broadens accessibility to patients who may not have many options when seeking a behavioral health provider, especially in rural areas. It also allows providers a peek into their patients’ daily lives, where they can observe the subtleties of their home environments that sometimes get missed with in-office visits.
Unfortunately, the lack of psychiatrists and addiction specialists across the nation and the stigma often involved contribute to mental health and addiction issues and create barriers to appropriate care.
Patients will see their primary care physician and may not receive the exact treatment plan that they need; after all, primary care physicians do not specialize in behavioral health or addiction, and often, these illnesses require a lot of time, patience, and coaching which the physician may not be able to accommodate. Telehealth will be able to connect patients in need with specialists, regardless of their location, who know how to treat these specific health issues.
This effective care model will not only lessen the hit on the nation’s bottom line as more and more individuals grapple with suicide, addiction, and other mental health issues but also revolutionize how people view the stigma involved. As caregivers, we can encourage loved ones to seek help as it becomes more accessible to receive treatment from the comforts of their own homes.
Geriatric patients stand to benefit tremendously as digital health consumers. Mobility can be especially difficult for these patients, and the ability to see a physician remotely removes one of the largest barriers to care. During certain times of the year, for example, flu season─ in-person appointments for patients of this age may potentially do more harm than good, exposing them to additional risk.
With telemedicine, providers can spot at-risk patients and provide early interventions to avoid unnecessary hospital admission. Similarly, nursing homes can partner with health systems to provide bedside care for their residents at a fraction of the price of an onsite physician.
These infrastructure synergies provide connectivity with electronic health records (EHRs) and create clear communication among hospitals, senior care facilities, referring physicians, and patient families. They also provide the link to population-based health management databases and other care analytic functions to measure value.
Surgery (Including Dental)
Many surgical departments find telemedicine to be a more convenient and cost-effective way for pre-and post-operative instructions for procedures of all magnitudes, including wisdom teeth extraction, colonoscopies, stent placement, and more.
With in-person visits and paper instructions, patients may misinterpret or forget important information about their surgery. This includes what medications to stop taking and how to physically prepare for surgery while providing a clear, direct line of answers for any questions a patient may have. With instructions digitally delivered before surgery, telehealth visits reduce patient no shows and saves valuable scheduled operating room time.
For post-op patients, providers can check the patient visually, ensuring that they follow their treatment plans and make adjustments as needed. Through this continuous connection, providers are empowered to deliver the guidance that many patients need as they go through the healing process. These virtual check-ins ensure the patient is on the road to recovery, thus reducing readmission rates without the patient ever having to leave their home.
Telemedicine’s Additional Benefits for Medication Compliance
Telehealth can improve treatment and medication compliance, specifically with controlled substances, i.e., pain medication. Opioid Addiction can begin at the hands of a prescriber. With the nation currently battling an opioid epidemic, marrying technology and follow-up appointments when prescribing these types of medications serves as the optimal solution for the safety of all involved.
The future of reimbursement from payers is still unfolding, but today─ Technology should not be viewed as a barrier to care but embraced to improve the healthcare industry.