Telehealth is exploding in the United States. With more than 15 million people using telehealth services in 2015, up 50 percent from 2013, the new application is enabling increased access to quality care and reducing costs. Through telehealth, we now have the ability to connect patients and healthcare providers wherever either is located, a vital application in healthcare delivery.
Reduced Costs, Significant Results
Not only is telehealth more convenient for patients, but it is also more affordable. This is leading to better outcomes, higher patient satisfaction and reduced costs. Telehealth is anticipated to save the industry as much as $4.8 billion in annual spending, according to Modern Healthcare, across both urban and rural healthcare settings.
Beyond the cost-savings, telehealth is proving its effectiveness in some encouraging recent studies. According to The Geisinger Health Plan Study, patients enrolled in its telemedicine program experienced 44 percent lower readmissions over 30 days and 38 percent lower readmission rates over 90 days, compared to patients not enrolled in the program. With potential federal penalties being introduced for readmission, providers are insisting on using the service to increase ties to patients and improve the quality of service.
The study also found that implementation of a telemedicine program generated about 11 percent in cost savings during the study period. This led to an estimated return on investment of about $3.30 in cost savings for every $1 spent on program implementation. Patients participating in this study noted an appreciation of the convenience of the technology and satisfaction with the virtual care experience. And a study evaluating the outcomes of care for 8,000 patients who used telemedicine services found no difference between the virtual appointment and an in-person office visit.
Reaching Every Patient
Providers also must consider the more than 25 million limited English proficient (LEP) and four million Deaf and hard of hearing (HOH) people in the United States. It is essential to offer language access through telehealth programs to address their needs. Enabling video remote interpreting (VRI) through a telehealth platform facilitates immediate access to medically qualified interpreters. These specially trained remote interpreters can help providers extend access to care for their limited English proficient, Deaf and hard of hearing patients.
The Future of Telehealth
The acceleration of telehealth is only going to continue. This is increasingly true for hospitals where adoption is anticipated to grow to more than half of all health centers nationwide by 2020. Additionally, insurance providers will promote telehealth as a way to increase their competitiveness and lessen in-patient payouts by working with suppliers in monitoring their clients. And patients will actively seek and request telehealth services as a convenient option to efficiently meet their healthcare needs. Clearly this is a vital technology in the medical sector as it enables consistent, high quality care that is accessible anywhere. InDemand is able to meet the interpreting needs for these encounters through our InDemand Clarity-Connect API tool. If you’re interested in finding out more please don’t hesitate to email me.