How Virtual Visits Increase Practice Profitability

How Virtual Visits Increase Practice Profitability

Today’s patients see genuine value in telehealth. One survey found that 93.2% of respondents rated their virtual visit as “high quality.” More than 9 out of 10 (91.2%) said the virtual visit was “very” or “somewhat” helpful in addressing their health issue.

With these kinds of numbers, it’s easy to see that a medical practice lacking virtual visit services might be leaving money on the table. Is yours one of them? If so, here are four ways virtual visits increase your practice’s profitability.

1. Virtual Visits Mean Volume
The math is simple on this one: more patients = higher profits. Complicating this straightforward formula, however, is the work-life balance many medical professionals seek. This formula works with virtual visits, though, because they allow physicians to see more patients in less time and under more flexible circumstances.

About those flexible circumstances: the opportunity to see patients after hours from the comfort of the physician’s own home is a key virtual visit benefit for physicians. For a doctor likely already dealing with urgent patient calls after hours, virtual visits formalize the interaction and provide a way for the doctor to get reimbursed for that time.

2. Virtual Visits Mean Longevity
Speaking of work-life balance, burnout is a related issue that plagues the medical field. One survey found that 42% of physicians reported burnout. A separate study found that burnout leads 30% of employees to consider quitting. There’s a logical progression here: burnout leads to people walking away. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of 42,600 to 121,300 physicians by 2030. Significant contributing factors include the patient workloads and administrative tasks with which doctors deal on a daily basis.

And a practice that loses a doctor loses dollars. Accounting for patient messaging, marketing, recruitment fees, lost revenue and retraining, estimates on what it costs to have a physician leave a practice can range between $250,000 and $1 million. The efficiency and flexibility of virtual visits might be enough to stave off that burnout — whether yours or a colleague’s. Instead of losing future profits and taking a big financial hit should a physician depart, virtual visits keep the practice charging ahead.

3. Virtual Visits Mean Streamlined Operations
Did you see the report that states the average worker only accomplishes three hours of work each day? Maybe it isn’t as bad in your practice, but any lost time hits your bottom line. Introducing more efficiency into your operations can only improve the situation. By its very nature, telehealth helps:

  • Reduce office no-shows, in part since patients receive more convenient access to their doctor
  • Decrease waiting room times
  • Increase doctor-patient communication with video and text messages
  • Eliminate billing-related phone calls, since telehealth software is capable of sharing that information with patients

In a sample virtual visit:

  1. A patient schedules an after-hours appointment through a practice’s telemedicine software.
  2. The patient and physician, connecting via video conferencing software, “attend” the virtual visit itself.

Compare that to all the steps — and staff — required to accommodate in-person appointments at an after-hours clinic and the benefits of virtual visits become even starker.

4. Virtual Visits Leverage Tools You Already Have
As with any new service offering, launching a virtual visit service will require some effort and financial investment. But this is a service offering that leverages many tools for which the practice probably already pays:

  • Office space
  • Internet connectivity
  • Wireless communication hardware
  • Video conferencing
  • Store-and-forward imaging
  • Streaming media

The final component would be telemedicine software. This is essentially the operating system of your virtual visit service and provides, among other things:

  • Electronic health record (EHR) integration
  • Appointment scheduling capabilities
  • Live video
  • Mobile app
  • Practice branding

Prices for telemedicine software vary widely depending on the particulars of the virtual visits service. Anticipate between $50 and $500 per month for each user.

Regarding office space, the magazine Health Facilities Management recommends telemedicine rooms be located away from loud equipment, foot traffic, and outside noises. It also cites the Facility Guidelines Institute’s The Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities, which lists “acoustics requirements for maximum noise levels, sound absorption coefficients, sound isolation between rooms and speech privacy.” An existing practice’s space may already meet all, or at least most, such requirements.

Virtually Futuristic Profits

In our nearly 30 years of providing support to the medical field, Complete Medical Services has seen ideas about patient care become fully realized services. That’s given us the perspective and experience necessary to help you implement virtual visits — and more — to your practice. Contact us to learn more.

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