Healthcare providers continue to adopt telehealth systems, leveraging a combination of technology and consumer trends to enhance quality of care and grow their practices. When evaluating the success of telehealth practices, however, it’s easy to become focused solely on direct financial gains, which often don’t provide a complete picture of ROI.
There are several factors providers can look at when measuring ROI of telehealth, all of which represent growth and revenue opportunities.
A hallmark of successful businesses, improvements in efficiency result in more work being completed more easily, which is also one of the key drivers of telehealth adoption. Leveraging connected telehealth technology allows physicians and staff to not only reduce the time spent with each patient, but to provide better care in the process. For instance, remote patient monitoring allows for collection of more accurate and complete data because tracking can be done in real time. In addition to time savings, more accurate and timely data allows for faster analysis and required treatment adjustments, including identifying patients who require clinic visits or whose health has improved to the point where they no longer require ongoing monitoring. In addition, because data can be automatically entered into EHR systems, administrative workload is reduced.
Rather than focusing on increased revenue, telehealth presents opportunities to manage expenses due to reductions in office visits, hospital admissions, and travel. Every in-person engagement has many associated costs for healthcare providers. Telehealth helps reduce many of them, from general office supplies to medical provisions to equipment cleaning and maintenance. Telehealth also reduces travel time for many physicians and staff, who no longer are required to move between offices or make home visits. For instance, physicians in large healthcare systems can service patients from any facility, whether the patient is in-home or at another clinic. Likewise, for those patients that require home visits, remote monitoring and virtual visits can have a significant reduction in travel expenses – in addition to the efficiency improvements above. Collectively, the efficiencies realized from properly implemented telehealth services may also reduce the need for increased staffing as patient numbers increase.
Increased patient access
Another way to consider telehealth ROI is a growth in patient numbers. In addition to simply being able to serve more patients due to efficiency gains, virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, and other telehealth services allow clinics to extend their service delivery areas to new geographies. Whether patients are unhappy with their current providers, require specialists, or are challenged by long commutes to physicians’ offices, telehealth make it possible to easily extend services to a new set of patients – and physicians – that were previously out of reach. The time and cost benefits of telehealth make it possible to serve these remote patients without a major impact on existing staff, which has a direct result in both costs and revenue.
The reality is that ROI can come from many places, some of them directly attributable to telehealth, while others are related to system-wide operational efficiencies. Ultimately, however, ROI is a function of adoption. In order to maximize on investments in telehealth, physicians have to be motivated to use the capabilities. When that happens, efficiency gains, cost benefits, and patient numbers will all reflect the value of telehealth.
To learn more about the ROI benefits of telehealth programs, click here.