By Dr. Alan Roga
If you want to know the difference a year can make, look no further than at telehealth adoption in the hospital and health system market. Faced with increasing financial pressures, including new payment penalties and shifting reimbursement models that continue to add more financial risk, and fierce competition for consumers who now have numerous choices to access healthcare – hospitals and health systems are realizing that telehealth is the answer.
Today the question we hear is no longer “should we implement a telehealth strategy” but “when and where is the best area to start?” A recent survey reinforces that point, as 83% of health systems rated telehealth as a high priority initiative, and of those health systems with telehealth in place, 69% have plans to expand their use.
The list of operational objectives that telehealth can serve is quite impressive.
- Readmission avoidance – By strengthening operational efficiencies, telehealth is enabling health systems to provide outpatient care, reduce medical errors and ultimately avoid costly readmissions.
- Improved care coordination – Telehealth is helping to address care gaps and improve provider capacity by enabling health systems to set up virtual practices and, through EMR integrations, share data in real-time.
- Supporting care delivery innovation – Telehealth is providing an opportunity for health systems to create new approaches to care delivery through post-surgical follow-up and training medical students and residents in telehealth.
- Market share expansion – As health systems are treating a wider variety of conditions, telehealth is helping hospitals to attract and retain patients through new service offerings, boosting their competitive advantage.
At Teladoc we’ve experienced the build of this momentum firsthand, through the growth in adoption of our consumer telehealth solutions. We diligently worked to architect solutions, purpose-built for the needs of hospitals and health systems and I’m proud to say that since the start of 2017, we’ve achieved a greater than 100 percent increase in hospital and health systems market, more than doubling its total in 2017, to now serve more than 200 hospitals across the country. That’s because we know that a truly successful telehealth strategy is not “one size fits all,” and we work closely with health systems to assess their imperatives and operational needs to create a tailored solution that address their goals.
Above all else, I’m most pleased to see how telehealth is improving the consumer experience. As an emergency room physician early in my career, I often saw patients – including families with small children – who waited for hours to receive care that would have been easily, not to mention more cost effectively, provided by a telehealth solution. Improving access to care is the reason I got into telehealth and it’s that shared commitment at Teladoc that compelled us to create a dedicated business unit, industry leading software and 24/7 operational support system for the unique needs of hospitals and their patients. As consumers continue to take a more active role in their healthcare decisions and where they choose to get care, now is the time for health systems to provide new ways to access quality care. The momentum for telehealth adoption is here, and for hospitals and health systems, the future is bright.