Telehealth is Here to Stay

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 months, it’s probably safe to say the world we live in now is vastly different than what it was prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has affected each and every one of us in one way or another.

I would have never in my wildest dreams thought that wearing a mask in a bank while asking a teller for my money would be welcomed versus  ending up in handcuffs. This year has truly been a very surreal experience and I’m sure 2020 will go down in the annals of time as being a moment in history generations will be talking about.

The same can be said about healthcare. Prior to COVID-19, telehealth services were deemed a niche service with only a select few medical providers offering it to patients. I myself used it on a few occasions. The biggest benefit to me was not having to schedule a doctor’s visit around my busy work schedule and then be stuck in traffic, stressing the whole time if I could get through my appointment and still make it back in time for the product roadmap meeting.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, telehealth is defined as the delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care via telecommunications and digital communication technologies. Live video conferencing, mobile health apps, “store and forward” electronic transmission, and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are examples of technologies used in telehealth.


The Moment of Reckoning


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it came with a vengeance and proved to be a massive disruptor of traditional medical care. Along with much of our economic infrastructure, medical offices were not immune to a wide-spread government-mandated lockdown. Medical providers faced a massive conundrum; how could they offer virtual care solutions, expand access to care and enable timely treatment, while also limiting the risk of person-to-person spread of the virus? The answer was telehealth.

But it came with a catch. Most medical offices, hospitals and even the companies that build this technology were woefully unprepared for this massive influx of telehealth demand, resulting in a massive bottleneck at first.

Luckily, our government was quick to act and passed sweeping legislative measures such as having Congress waive telehealth restrictions for coronavirus screening, $8 billion emergency funding legislation that expanded the toolkits of healthcare professionals working to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, and the relaxing of government regulatory requirements.In short, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the once-niche telehealth industry into the mainstream, testing its ability to keep up with soaring demand and forcing innovation on the fly.
 

Why Telehealth Matters


Let’s begin by listing some stats that validate why telehealth isn’t going to slow down anytime soon:
  • Video consultations are growing from 19.7M in 2014 to an estimated 158.4M this year in 2020
  • One in three Americans are unsure about the safety in doctors’ offices, hospitals and urgent care centers. Thirty six percent of patients would switch their physician to have access to virtual care.
  • More than three quarters of patients care more about easy access to care than the need for in-person interactions with providers
  • Almost 75% of all doctor, urgent care, and ER visits are either unnecessary or could be handled safely and effectively over the phone or video
  • All major insurance payers now reimburse for video visits

Kareo’s Telehealth Solution


While Kareo wasn’t immune from the sudden and massive influx of telehealth deployment requests, we did have the foresight to build a robust solution almost three years prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, we were quickly able to pivot and address the massive demand with a robust telehealth solution that allowed our customers to focus on patient care while running a successful medical practice.

With Kareo Telehealth, our customers can achieve the following business benefits:
  • Improve clinical outcomes.Easier access helps boost patient compliance of treatment plans. Offering Kareo Telehealth also helps to increase patient satisfaction and retention by eliminating the need for patients to take extra time off from work to battle traffic to see their doctor, only to sit in a crowded waiting room until their name is called.
  • Reduce patient no-shows. Providers using the Kareo Telehealth platform see a no-show rate of less than 5%.
  • Keep schedules full. You can easily add dozens of appointments per day without increasing practice overhead.
  • Maximize valuable real estate. You can now reserve waiting room/exam room space and staff resources for new patient visits, procedures, or higher reimbursed visits.
  • Drive mental health adoption. Telehealth is especially helpful for psychiatrists and behavioral health therapists where emotional vs. physical treatment plans are the norm.

Key Features and Benefits of Kareo Telehealth
  • No activation or onboarding time! It just takes a flip of a switch within the Kareo platform.
  • Efficient scheduling with a one-click button.
  • Easy-to-use process for the patient with no app to download, no login/password to remember, and more
  •  Flexibility around unforeseeable disruptions. Patients can still see a doctor when they can’t attend an in-person visit and it’s easy for the provider to switch the appointment over to a virtual one.
  • Multiple clients can join a virtual visit (multiple family members, staff hand-off)
  • Screenshare capabilities and text chat during the visit and ability to turn off video if needed • A cost-competitive care delivery option that is part of a fully integrated, HIPAA-compliant and HITRUST-certified platform, offering an end-to-end solution.


Conclusion


Telehealth services are no longer an option, they are an absolute necessity. It would be a mistake to assume this trend for medical practices to adopt telehealth will die out following the outbreak. After all, remote healthcare allows patients to be cared for more efficiently, taking the strain off healthcare facilities while reducing operating costs and common healthcare-related infections. And with better telehealth reimbursement, it financially makes sense as well. If you are looking to implement a telehealth solution or are not happy with the vendor you have now, why not make the change now? Contact a Kareo representative and get started immediately with Kareo Telehealth to provide more opportunities to support your patients with virtual care capabilities or visit us at Kareo.com/telehealth.

About the Author

Sonny Singh is the Director for the Product Marketing and Partner Alliances departments at Kareo. He has a combined experience of 20 plus years in the tech industry...

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