The orthopedic workflow is about to change – for the better. Telemedicine, a technology that has evolved tremendously since its inception in the 50s and 60s, is now being used in a variety of specialties to improve the convenience and quality of patient care and practice efficiencies in a variety of clinical settings.
Nowhere is the use of telemedicine more revolutionary than in the orthopedic workflow, where long-term wound care and pain management create frustrating inefficiencies both for the doctor and the patient. Orthopedists see patients with painful and debilitating injuries that can make every visit a personal struggle just to get to the exam room. How does this help the doctor-patient relationship? What if your practice could use technology to improve patient quality scores, increase practice efficiencies, and enlarge your bottom line?
In a high-volume orthopedic practice, telemedicine is the answer. From diagnosis to post-op wound care, how can telemedicine incorporate and improve workflows in the orthopedic practice?
Telemedicine and Orthopedics – Fixing What’s Broken
We’ve heard this many times before; the orthopedic practice struggles with increasing demands tied to high patient volumes and the increasing complexity of running the business. Declining reimbursement is only one of the pressures we face in the independent practice; remaining competitive means improving the patient experience in today’s competitive and fickle markets.
While it may seem counterintuitive to provide healthcare remotely, in fact, patients appreciate the convenience of digital access to any service – including medical treatment.
The underlying issue is not only that digital technology has infiltrated every part of our day, but that our patients are increasingly time-strapped and frustrated with the multi-step workflows tied to orthopedic treatment. Standing in line to speak with a receptionist can be a challenging proposition for a patient with a leg fracture. In rural settings, patients drive for hours to reach your practice. How many appointments are rescheduled due to the challenges of traveling over the river and through the woods?
Telemedicine improves the lives of doctors and patients by allowing us to leverage technology to improve efficiencies in an orthopedic setting. Telemedicine is currently being used successfully at nearly all of the stages of pre and post-treatment clinical care. Here are several examples of orthopedic workflows that have been successfully improved by telemedicine technology:
- Front desk pre-appointment
In the front office, telemedicine can help transition patient intake into a more efficient and convenient self-service model that saves time while improving patient comfort. Visits can be scheduled online, freeing up your scheduling desk and offering alternatives for the digitally savvy patient.
- Patient education
While telemedicine has been tied to on-demand short-term care, there is a huge benefit to applying the technology to current patients. In fact, once the patient relationship has been established, using telemedicine consults for simple follow-ups such as routine wound checks or patient education is a more efficient way to provide these services.
- Post-surgical care/orthopedic follow-up
Patient satisfaction scores are extremely high with telemedicine applications, especially if the patient has mobility issues that make visiting your practice a struggle.
Telemedicine is about using technology to improve patient access. Clinical teams can expand their hours, adding additional flexibilities to tight scheduling patterns. Patient wait time can be reduced significantly; one orthopedic provider reported his average patient wait time was 68 minutes without telemedicine. Using the technology created a new workflow “with virtually no waiting time.”
These visits require a digital device with Internet, a camera, and a microphone, something the majority of our clients carry in their pockets, backpacks, or purses every single day.
How Can Telemedicine Help My Ortho Practice?
Becker’s Spine Review published the highlights from a Journal of ISAKOS study of telemedicine adoption rates in pediatric sports medicine clinics. Here’s what they discovered:
- With the use of telemedicine technology, patient wait times were shorter.
- Skipping the drive time to the practice saved $50 per family.
- Clinician and support staff costs were reduced by $24 per patient.
- Patients gave the providers a 90% satisfaction score for their telemedicine visit.
Telemedicine is one way to maximize patient flow in orthopedics.
Performance improvement efforts to eliminate those “traffic jams” often experienced in a busy orthopedic practice will benefit from the inception of telemedicine. When patient visits increase, practice profits will, as well.
Time is money in any medical practice, and in the case of telemedicine, the technology exists to improve the amount of time each clinical team member spends with a patient. For example, telemedicine lets providers physically examine range of motion, neurovascular examination, and wound care inspection all without having to physically have the patient in the room. It can replace the MRI recheck visit. It also prevents unique marketing opportunities that highlight the convenience of the service.
While telemedicine cannot be used in every application, it can certainly be leveraged to cut costs, improve the patient experience, and increase the efficiency of workflows in the orthopedic practice. As medicine moves increasingly toward “value,” adding telemedicine in the orthopedic practice is one way that the independent practice can make use of new reimbursement models and work smarter.
The New Healthcare Paradigm – Evolve and Survive
Telemedicine, a technology that has been around for decades, has finally reached its apogee. A new study published in Becker’s Spine Review reports that, of the physicians and healthcare c-suite surveyed, 56% have adopted telemedicine in their practices. 86% say adopting telemedicine into their orthopedic workflows is a “medium to high priority.”
OrthoLive is a low-cost, easy way to add HIPAA-compliant video communication to your orthopedic practice. Our goal is to provide your practice with service efficiencies that improve the speed and convenience of patient interactions in a way that benefits both you and your clients.
Telemedicine eliminates some of the complexities associated with an in-person clinical visit. It improves patient access by allowing a more timely access to clinical teams. This technology will let your physicians focus on what they were trained to do – provide compassionate care designed to improve the lives of their patients.
Telemedicine is being used in hospital-owned specialty practices around the country. Now, OrthoLive has taken that technology and democratized it for the independent orthopedic practice.
Contact OrthoLive for a free demo of our service to find out more.