The pandemic has shed new light on the use of telehealth in the United States. During the COVID-19 crisis, the number of telehealth visits increased dramatically. One report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reports a whopping 2,532 percent increase in telehealth visits delivered from March through June of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
Telehealth has been around for a long time, but it took the pandemic to push people to embrace it. If you are considering opening a healthcare business and wondering if you should include virtual appointments in your practice, you should consider the pros and cons of telemedicine.
Pro: Saves Time
One major pro of telemedicine is the time-saving aspect for both doctors and patients. During the average checkup, a patient sees a doctor for about seven minutes. In that context, it’s not hard to see the advantage of cutting out the extra time and making the most of a short visit.
Pro: Expands Access
Telemedicine can help stretch your healthcare network in new ways to expand access to care. Telehealth can be used to reach patients in rural areas and outside of your usual market. The ability to efficiently reach more patients can increase revenue. Patients seen through telemedicine are eligible for the same third-party reimbursement as patients seen in person.
Pro: Scheduling Flexibility
Doctors can manage their schedules more flexibly rather than having to adhere to a strict schedule at the clinic. A telemedicine session is very similar to a video call. It’s also easier for the patient to be available at a flexible time to consult the doctor. It helps the doctors to manage their calendars with less burnout.
Pro: Competitive Edge
The clinic can easily expand its specialties since providers can deliver telemedicine consultations from any location. This not only expands the patient pool but also sets doctors apart competitively, which, in turn, further expands the patient (and revenue) base.
Con: Security Risks
Hackers and other cybercriminals may be able to access a patient’s medical data. Health records are big business for enterprising hackers. Healthcare-related cybercrime is increasing, and, on the black market, the value of medical records is second only to the value of financial account data. One way to mitigate this is to use a telemedicine platform that meets HIPAA’s strict standards. And one that also fully encrypts all data transmission.
Con: Inability to Examine Patients
Providers must rely on patient self-reports during telemedicine sessions. This may require clinicians to ask more questions to ensure that they get a comprehensive health history. If a patient leaves out an important symptom that might have been noticeable during in-person care, this can compromise treatment. The solution to this is asking the client for an in-person follow-up visit if the physician has a facility close to the area where the telecare patient is located.
While the above points are just a few of the pros and cons of telemedicine, there is one more drawback to consider — navigating the telemedicine options alone. Which platform provides the best HIPAA compliant and secure service? What happens when there are technical issues? Which one offers the best support?
Partnering with a franchise like American Family Care (AFC) as part of your healthcare business goals takes the work and guessing out of the equation. It also provides the benefit of having a national footprint for patients and physicians to interact through a telehealth portal and in-person at clinics throughout the country.
AFC unveiled and began implementing the AFC/Telecare portal in the early weeks of the pandemic. Medical providers in the American Family Care nationwide network of healthcare clinics continue to provide virtual visits to patients. This includes assessment/screening of healthcare problems, such as acute illnesses and trauma, help with managing chronic illness, and prescription medication as needed, all from the safety of their home. As a result of providing this additional and now important access to healthcare, AFC experienced a significant increase in patient visits.
Click here to learn more about the franchise opportunities available at American Family Care.