HomeMedicine ArticlesIs Telemedicine a Substitute for In-House Practice?

Is Telemedicine a Substitute for In-House Practice?

Telemedicine has gained popularity over the last few years as many people began to understand its benefits and how it can help the country. Many benefits of telemedicine can greatly improve the healthcare system of any country, such as increased patient safety, increased access to care, and better patient outcomes.

Is telemedicine an adequate substitute for in-house care?  It depends on your hospital’s current business model and future goals. But one thing is certain: It’s here to stay. And it can offer an effective, less expensive alternative to traditional healthcare models.

Understanding how it works can help you determine if it’s right for your medical practice. In this article, we’ll explore telemedicine benefits, as well as why it matters.

Top 6 Benefits of Telemedicine

With its unlimited potential and advantages, telemedicine promises to revolutionize healthcare as we know it.  But are these benefits making their way into our in-house practices? Although implementing telemedicine can be difficult, with proper planning and due diligence, most of us will soon see how it can benefit both our medical practices and our patients.

1. Save time and money

 It’s important to remember that telemedicine can be used in conjunction with in-person visits. If a patient has quick, simple questions about something like flossing teeth or sitting in a chair without back support, you may be able to handle it over video chat without her having to make an appointment. This takes less of your time and saves money for your practice or employer as well.

2. It doesn’t take up any space in your office

We all know how important it is to have an open space with plenty of room, but you don’t want anything to be getting in your way. Using telemedicine means you can start operating on patients right away without worrying about installing separate rooms or furniture specifically for doctors. No more waiting around as construction work takes place.

3. It won’t require hiring new staff members

This is a benefit that many practice owners may have considered already—one of its biggest benefits, but it can still be easy to forget during tough economic times. If your budget has been feeling stretched and you don’t want to replace your position with more full-time equivalents, telemedicine could potentially make an impact on your practice profits without requiring you to make any changes to staffing levels.

4. Flexibility

Telemedicine is advantageous to employers who value flexibility. Instead of having one or two in-house physicians, many firms are choosing to hire telemedicine physicians on an as-needed basis.

5. Convenient

Having 24/7 access to a doctor means that people can make appointments when it’s convenient for them, which gives them additional flexibility when managing their medical care.

6. Availability

A major benefit of telemedicine is its availability. Because remote doctors are no different from any other employee in your practice, they always work, even when you don’t need them —and because everything happens digitally, there’s never a service disruption.

Why Telemedicine Is Important

With an increased demand for health care services, there has been a steady rise in specialized medical practices that utilize telehealth as their core principle. What is telemedicine, and what are its benefits over traditional medicine models? Traditional medicine, or in-person visits to see your doctor, has been the primary method of providing health care services. Not only is it costly to have your physician come to you, but also time-consuming. By utilizing telemedicine technologies, patients can take control of their health and schedule appointments whenever it is convenient for them.

That’s not all telemedicine provides: Many other benefits come from utilizing telehealth and telemedicine. By offering services in non-traditional hours, patients can receive care when they need it most, rather than having to wait until their physicians have time on their schedules to fit them in.

This alleviates unnecessary stress for patients who have serious medical issues and require quick care, or who need frequent routine check-ups but don’t want to take time out of their day to visit their doctors.

Why Would You Want to Use Telemedicine?

With its wide availability, low cost, and high convenience, telemedicine may be a suitable substitute for in-house practice.  It should not replace face-to-face visits but rather serve as an additional service to offer your patients more flexibility. 

Telemedicine allows individuals with certain chronic conditions who have otherwise limited care options better access to medication management support from their doctors than they would receive from a traditional primary care physician office visit.

This can help improve patient compliance with long term medication regimens, resulting in reduced overall health risks. Telemedicine also improves access to specialty medical practitioners such as dermatologists, cardiologists, oncologists and even behavioural specialists in cases where these services are unavailable locally.

Additionally, telemedicine can provide patients with immediate access to prescription refills or other commonly requested prescriptions of controlled substances 24 hours a day 7 days a week without them having to make another appointment at your clinic.

What Is the Cost of Telemedicine?

The costs associated with telemedicine can vary greatly depending on what medical condition you’re treating and where you purchase your care. The cost of telehealth services might range from free if your insurance plan includes coverage to $200 or more per month depending on what equipment you use and how often you have consultations. The Benefits of telemedicine can vary depending on where you purchase your care. If you have insurance, it might cover some or all of your telehealth services.

However, paying out of pocket can be expensive if you don’t have insurance or if your plan doesn’t include coverage. You might also find that with in-house care, there are lower costs associated with home visits as opposed to appointments at a clinic or hospital.

Some patients complain about having to drive long distances for appointments; however, those same patients admit that not having to wait weeks for an appointment is worth the time and gas. There’s no denying that convenience plays an important role in choosing health care providers.

Can Telemedicine Work with My Current Insurance Plan?

Most insurance companies cover telemedicine visits with an in-network doctor although some require you to see an out-of-network provider first. Some providers may also be able to conduct an over-the-phone diagnosis, but will then require that you visit your doctor in person for further treatment.

Many times, though, there is no additional cost associated with having a virtual consultation. In those cases, there’s no reason not to consider it.

 If you have health insurance, it’s important to understand how telemedicine affects your plan. If you visit an in-network doctor through telemedicine services, they will be reimbursed by your insurance company.

Depending on your provider, they may also be able to refer you to specialists and other providers. Over time, telemedicine can save both providers and insurance companies money, so it’s likely that more insurers will begin covering virtual consultations in the future.

Is telemedicine a good substitute for in-house practice?

When patients can’t physically see their doctors, telemedicine can be an alternative to in-house practice. While it’s not always ideal and many physicians don’t want to work in only a remote setting, some doctors enjoy working remotely. For these professionals, it makes sense that they would choose telemedicine over an in-house practice. Just make sure you’re getting your care from a trusted professional before using telehealth services.

Conclusion

Telemedicine is an emerging field of healthcare that aims to make it easier to connect patients with licensed professionals via digital means. The practice has been around since at least World War II when ships would use telephone communication to connect sick soldiers with naval physicians but was used primarily in hospitals and other medical facilities until recently.

Today, telemedicine has made its way into just about every sector of medicine, including primary care practices, urgent care centres and even traditional brick-and-mortar hospitals.

FAQs

1. Are there any legal concerns with telemedicine?

Because every state has different laws about health care, it’s important to understand both your local and national regulations before you start offering telemedicine services to patients. While legal challenges are likely to become more minimal as telemedicine becomes more accepted, it’s still worth checking into what practices are acceptable in your area before you start offering them.

2. Are telemedicine bills reimbursed by insurance?

Yes, most insurers reimburse telemedicine visits, but you should check with your carrier first before scheduling an appointment to be sure.

3. What should I do before I decide to go into telemedicine?

You’ll need to make sure that you have an established provider who is already licensed and is ready to begin accepting patients online through your platform.

4. How much does telemedicine save a practice each year?

The cost of care delivery is reduced by up to 50% with telemedicine versus office or hospital-based care delivery. Annual savings range from $10,000 to $100,000+ depending on the size of the office and volume of patient encounters.

5. Is it safe as traditional methods?

Yes, medical technology has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and we’re now at a point where it’s better than in-person care; if you’re worried about your doctor not being able to see you when you need to be seen, worry no more.

References

  1. https://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2020/10/telehealth-not-always-cheaper-worth-it
  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2021.648009/full
  3. https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/australians-embrace-telehealth-to-save-lives-during-covid-19
  4. https://evisit.com/resources/10-pros-and-cons-of-telemedicine/
  5. https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/telehealth

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