Pre-pandemic, discussions about telemedicine were typically centered around three traditional service lines: primary care, stroke care and psychology services. Although these are the telemedicine services traditionally thought of as being most profitable to healthcare organizations, there are so many other possibilities for how telehealth can be utilized to provide high-quality care to patients remotely. Now that the pandemic has placed telemedicine in the spotlight and it’s become more highly accepted among patients, clinicians and healthcare administrators, it’s time we move beyond discussions of what’s profitable via telemedicine to what’s possible via telemedicine.
My company, LocumTenens.com, provides staffing services for 60 different telehealth service lines, and I find both customers and clinicians are surprised when they find out what’s possible thanks to advances in telemedicine technology.
The patients, providers and healthcare administrators who had been hesitant to get on board with the recently accelerated telehealth trend have become more familiar with and are taking advantage of the technology accessible to them. According to the American Medical Association, pre-pandemic, only about 1% of all encounters were conducted via telemedicine. Almost overnight, that number quickly jumped to around 60 to 70%. But even with patients feeling more comfortable visiting a facility to receive healthcare and less fearful about contracting the virus while doing so, those numbers aren’t likely to drop now that now that they’ve discovered the flexibility and convenience telemedicine affords them. And they’re realizing more can be done via telehealth than they ever imagined.
In response to telehealth need and demand during the pandemic, telemedicine reimbursement has finally started to catch up to the technology. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia effected telemedicine commercial payer laws, and more are anticipated to follow this year. Lawmakers are advocating to make some of the telemedicine legislations enacted temporarily last year permanent. With reimbursement legislation catching up with the technology, there won’t long be a reason to fear services provided via telemedicine not being profitable.
With the time and funding dedicated to telehealth services and technology during the pandemic, increasingly more patients are feeling confident in the quality of care they are receiving via telemedicine (although even pre-pandemic, patient satisfaction scores were already high). Additionally, there are certain telehealth certifications which can help clinicians and healthcare administrators feel confident they’re working with a company that will provide them with the highest quality service as well. For example, my company recently became the first staffing agency to earn URAC certification, demonstrating commitment to quality care, enhanced processes, patient safety and improved outcomes.
There’s no denying the telemedicine industry is booming, and the rapid pace at which the market is growing isn’t anticipated to slow down any time soon. There’s never been a better time for healthcare organizations to explore and invest in technologies that will allow them to meet patient demand and exceed their expectations for care regardless of the kind of services their clinicians are providing.
Matt Hall Vice President, Telehealth
Matt Hall joined LocumTenens.com as Vice President, Telehealth in July of 2020. With a focus on telehealth business development, Matt’s responsibilities include expanding the company’s offerings and initiating multi-specialty contracts with healthcare organizations. He has an extensive history of partnering with both enterprise-level organizations and small rural hospitals, striving to find solutions to provide quality and affordable patient care via telemedicine.