As a physician, a medical services business owner, and a student of health policy, I am deeply familiar with the complexity of aligning incentives across health systems and payers. Rising healthcare costs and disparities in the quality of care are just two reasons contributing to calls for payment reform. We continue to see inspired efforts to improve alignment through alternative payment models. Yet, one reason I started a telemedicine company was to demonstrate that reform can take place by focusing on improving care delivery – knowing that virtual healthcare will support a health system’s financial model. In this post, I will share a glimpse of how telemedicine is a care delivery model that better aligns how we deliver care and how we pay for it. Shifting how we deliver and pay for care must be included in current and future strategies for aligning better patient health outcomes.
Advance Care Delivery and Coordination
Telemedicine brings healthcare directly to a patient, without compromising quality or adding unnecessary burden to a provider’s workflow. A radiologist by trade, I saw the power of having remote radiologists view images in real time with a patient via a virtual platform. I loved practicing medicine, but I also wanted to be part of a new approach to delivering timely care to patients. A patient needing surgery will still visit a hospital or outpatient clinic, but that same patient may decide to have a pre- or post- surgery consultation with their surgeon via video. Telemedicine facilitates communication between a patient and his or her doctor or nurse, and between providers. Better communication helps patients adhere to treatment and avoid adverse health outcomes, and it helps providers view the patient as a whole rather than with a narrow lens. Enhanced coordination reduces the amount of time and resources spent on a patient’s care – helping reduce health system costs.
Secure a Financial Advantage
Telemedicine allows providers to manage their patients better, add a new revenue stream in the form of telemedicine encounters, and adds flexibility into a provider’s calendar. Providers will see new revenue opportunities by expanding their telemedicine presence, and payers will financially benefit from patients who are better monitored and therefore less likely to confront more-costly and avoidable episodes of care.
Telemedicine delivers a care model that fits with current fee-for-service arrangements and alternative payment models
Within fee-for-service arrangements, telemedicine supports health systems that cannot keep up with patient demand. Telemedicine may alleviate patient demand pressures by allowing providers to dedicate part of their day to more efficient video consultations, or by working with a telemedicine vendor whose provider network can handle extra demand.
Alternative Payment Models
For health systems using alternative payment models, telemedicine enables enhanced coordination of care, so there is less wasted time and resources spent helping patients get better. Alternative payment models thrive on coordinating the patient’s care inside and out of the hospital. Telemedicine supports virtual check-ins to monitor patients post-discharge and throughout treatment.
Telemedicine not only makes care delivery more convenient and improves the provider workflows, but it adapts to different payment models. Whereas alternative payment models have worked to explore ways to control rising costs, telemedicine looks to protect patients, while aligning the financial incentives of providers and payers. I am proud of CareClix for advancing how care is delivered in the U.S. and abroad. As always, I’d be happy to hear your stories and to listen to your ideas for improving how healthcare is paid for and delivered.
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Thanks to Jeremy Gottlich from Ignyte Group for his support in writing this blog post.