No matter which area in healthcare, new advancements and developments are changing the industry every day. Telemedicine is one of the most rapidly growing areas of current healthcare – by 2025, the market is expected to be valued at well over $100 billion. Telemedicine isn’t complex: it is a technology that allows physicians, in a variety of fields, to meet with their patients through a two-way video call, providing a more convenient experience for both the doctor and the patient. Telemedicine is often used for discussing symptoms, providing prescription refills, and following up with patients, and it is a preferred option for many when a physical office visit is not necessary. Although orthopedic medicine is generally very hands-on, orthopedics is a medical field that is rapidly gaining interest in telemedicine. Aside from physical examinations and surgical procedures themselves, most of the steps of the orthopedic medicine process can be performed remotely. In this blog, we will detail some of the benefits of telemedicine that make it appealing for orthopedic practices.
1. Improved Patient Care
Patients with a non-life threatening injury may often be discouraged from putting aside time to see a doctor. Driving to the office and waiting in a waiting room (potentially having to miss work) just to speak to a doctor for a few minutes is not appealing for most patients. This can cause injuries to worsen, or may cause the person to visit the ER or urgent care rather than seeing a specialist who is more suited to take care of their injury.
According to orthopedic telemedicine firm OrthoLive, over 80% of orthopedic injuries can be initially diagnosed over telemedicine. With telemedicine, patients can speak to an orthopedic doctor from the comfort of their own home, and tell the doctor about their symptoms and what caused their injury. This can easily lead to a care plan and clear next steps for the treatment of the condition or injury. Telemedicine allows orthopedic doctors to meet with their patients more easily, which means that patients will be more willing to set up an appointment and get their concerns taken care of sooner rather than later.
2. Increased Revenue
Telemedicine can do more than allow orthopedic doctors to provide more comprehensive care- it can also increase compensation for orthopedic practices and physicians. Post-operative care is usually accomplished through written instructions and follow up appointments, which may be longer than they need to be when they happen in person. Shorter and more efficient follow up visits via video chat give doctors more time to see patients, improving patient accessibility and increasing revenue. Telemedicine helps ensure that post-op care is always compensated for the physician, and that visits are not longer or more complicated than they need to be. The more efficient a visit is, the more time a doctor has to see patients in a single day.
3. Improved Accessibility
Telemedicine virtual visits allow orthopedic physicians to meet with patients from underserved areas, which is beneficial for both parties involved. Patients facing an orthopedic injury in a rural area often find it difficult to locate a doctor in their immediate proximity, especially when they are looking for a specialist. Although the patient may have to come to see the doctor in person depending on the severity of their injury, telemedicine allows them to get a medical evaluation without traveling a long distance. This works in favor of the physicians, as well as allowing them to expand their reach to those outside of their community.
4. Reduce Patient ‘No Shows’
Along with improving patient accessibility, telemedicine also benefits the orthopedics facility by resulting in fewer ‘no shows’ for appointments. Since telemedicine allows patients to not worry about traveling to the physician’s office location, they are more likely to attend an appointment. According to The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), it is estimated that no shows can cost the healthcare industry more than $150 billion dollars a year! Telemedicine being extremely convenient and affordable helps significantly reduce the number of no-shows, as well as ensuring that you’re utilizing valuable billable time even if there is a late cancellation. Telemedicine can help save your practice from no shows and therefore help boost the practice’s revenue.
5. Expand Potential Patient Base
Telemedicine not only benefits the patients and the orthopedic practice but also the doctors themselves. Telemedicine allows orthopedic physicians to informally continue their education and training through collaboration. Also, orthopedic doctors can significantly expand their potential patient base, especially for those who are greatly limited to traveling. Furthermore, orthopedic doctors are at a reduced risk for burnout since they can effortlessly interact with patients more regularly and oversee patients more adequately.
6. Improve Patient Engagement
Over 3.8 billion people use the internet in today’s society, which is 40% of the world’s population. With the world utilizing the internet and technology results in more patients are becoming more tech-savvy. Patients utilizing technology benefits them by staying on top of their health, especially with the help of telemedicine. Telemedicine makes it extremely easy for patients to be aware of their overall health and maintain patient and doctor engagement because of convenience and accessibility. Telemedicine gives patients the chance to report early warning symptoms or any health concerns, and more with the benefit of virtual consultations. Face-to-face interactions with patients and physicians play such an essential role in the healthcare industry, which now telemedicine provides. Telemedicine can benefit all parties providing high-quality care for all patients that are near and far.
In the new decade, telemedicine is increasingly being utilized, especially in the orthopedic industry. Telemedicine is frequently used including for routine post-surgical rechecks, MRI, EMG, and test follow-up appointments, as a supplement for “brick and mortar” urgent care, in employer-driven “virtual clinics,” and by athletic trainers. The method of Telemedicine cannot be used for every single medical visit, however, the state-of-the-art technology is an impactful and beneficial tool for established patients for routine care. Telemedicine is a tool that improves the orthopedic doctor’s capability to treat patients and helps set the orthopedic practice apart from the rest of the competition.