Coming to a Practice Near You – Telehealth

Posted by Michael Greiwe, MD | June 5, 2018 |
Michael Greiwe, MD

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Telemedicine, the practice of offering digital virtual visits to remote patients, is undergoing the perfect storm. While telehealth applications date back fifty years, the promise of the technology has never reached widespread adoption.

Forecasts tell us that’s about to change. Healthcare Informatics predicts that the telehealth industry will reach $19.5 billion by 2025.

This article will look at some of the trends expected to finally foster the expansion of telehealth technology applications across the healthcare landscape.

Telehealth on the Upward Swing

Transparency Market Research has been tracking the global growth of the telehealth market and they’re predicting widespread adoption, particularly in the U.S. healthcare market in the next seven years. Industry shifts are expected to allow a 13% upward growth trajectory.

Here is what lies ahead:

  • In 2017, the global telehealth market was valued at $6 billion.
  • By 2025, the report suggests the market will expand by more than $13 billion to $19.5 billion.
  • The research says that an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease will contribute to an expansion of the technology for home monitoring applications.
  • Remote rural areas and a looming physician provider shortage in many specialties will also contribute to the widespread adoption of telehealth.

Interestingly, the report suggested a strong tie to orthopedic-related ancillaries such as radiology. Researchers stated:

Moreover, consistent evolution in information and communication technologies, effective image transfer, consultation and reporting, and scarcity of radiologists across the globe are the factors expected to drive the segment from 2017 to 2025.

While end-user adoption is typically divided between payers, patients, providers, and others, the report notes that clinical provider adoption is the market segment expected to increase adoption the most, while payers are anticipated to expand their reimbursement for these services.

The report concludes that the primary factors contributing to the expansion of the technology include:

Aging population, large patient pool suffering from chronic diseases, surge in demand to cut down health care cost, and improving health care infrastructure in countries such as India, China, and Australia are estimated to propel the telehealth market during the forecast period.

Clearly, the healthcare paradigm is finally shifting toward adoption of the virtual visit. What are some of the other trends impacting this sudden expansion of telehealth services in the American healthcare system?

Benefits of Telehealth – Trends to Improve Technology Adoption

In a new report called “The Promise of Telehealth: Strategies to Increase Access to Quality Healthcare in Rural America,” researchers at the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School sought to quantify the benefits of telehealth applications in rural settings. The study points out that, “Many residents of rural areas experience significant challenges in accessing quality healthcare.” With provider shortages expected to only increase, telehealth applications hold promise to lessen the burden of seeking medical treatment.

Another trend impacting the growth of telemedicine is the perilous upswing in costs associated with providing treatment. A recent roundtable on value-based healthcare suggests, “Healthcare cost increases continue to outpace the price and spending growth rates for the rest of the economy by a considerable margin.” The published findings of these strategy suggestions conducted by the Institute of Medicine recommend telehealth as a viable option for improving patient care while cutting costs. Modern Healthcare suggests that “there is now a system-wide consensus that the escalating pressure on providers to dramatically change how they organize and deliver care will continue in the years ahead.”

Too, the barriers to reimbursement and licensure are being lifted; 36 states have passed laws requiring virtual visits to be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person treatment.

The rise of high-deductible insurance premiums has moved American healthcare from treating “patients” to providing service to “customers.” These clients expect a service experience that is convenient and efficient.

Telehealth is the perfect application to meet both consumer demand and the imperative to deliver on the promise of lower-cost but higher value care.

Impact on the Small Medical Practice

But how will this technology adoption upswing affect the smaller medical practice? In the orthopedic space, if the practice is part of a larger hospital network, it’s possible that a telehealth application will be available to leverage. But for the smaller practice, it will be tougher than ever to compete against the convenience of the telehealth visit. With declining reimbursement, finding ways to cut overhead will continue to put pressure on even the largest independent practice network.

OrthoLive offers these practices options in the face of very challenging market conditions. Our service offers affordable telehealth solutions to improve the operational performance of the small to mid-sized medical practice. Telehealth lowers costs while improving volume, which will have a clear positive impact on your business.

With a subscription service like OrthoLive, smaller independent practices now have access to the same tools as larger groups or hospital-owned medical practices. OrthoLive offers real-time HIPAA compliant video conferencing designed to give patients and doctors the option to provide treatment remotely.

Telehealth applications have proven to reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and increase patient volume. An orthopedic surgeon with the goal of improving these specialty practices created the OrthoLive technology. This cloud-based subscription technology offers:

  • A simple scheduling/registration process.
  • HIPAA-compliant video visits.
  • These visits are accessible on any mobile device.
  • You can easily upload and share radiologic images.
  • A simple click allows screen sharing and flipping to view the injury.
  • The platform allows encrypted secure messaging.
  • Insurance verification and credit card processing for collection of co-pays and a fast check out.

80% of the initial orthopedic injuries can be diagnosed with telehealth applications, including:

  • Ankle or wrist sprain.
  • Low back pain.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Arthritis.
  • Rotator cuff tendinitis.
  • Bunion.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Mallet finger
  • Dupuytren’s Disease

You can use telehealth applications to expand your practice, offering additional services to patients in rural areas. Allowing “virtual urgent care” in your practice will eliminate the travel time required – something patients appreciate.

It’s clear that the time is right to consider telehealth for your practice. Fortunately, there are low-cost solutions available that will give your customers options while reducing your overhead and improving clinical care. Contact OrthoLive to talk about a trial of our telehealth subscription service.

Topics: "telehealth", "telemedicine", orthopedic practice