Telemedicine provides the ability for physicians to extend their practice, offer better access to care, and to connect easily with patients who for whatever reason cannot travel to the office for an appointment.
In recent weeks, we’ve been hearing from a number of our physician clients who feel overwhelmed by the 3-minute “drive by” appointments they can offer to patients that schedule in-office appointments. We’ve been suggesting that they consider adding telemedicine options for patients in order to extend their primary care access and capacity. When we explain that there are now 22 states that require insurers to process telemedicine claims that meet the right criteria for evaluation and management services, their inclination seems to increase. When we explain further that income and ROI can go from $1-$3 per minute to $10-15 per minute while reducing about 19% overhead, we capture their attention.
Not all telemedicine systems are alike. Some afford patients the chance to “dial a stranger” meaning the practitioner with whom they connect online or by phone is not their regular doctor that knows them, knows their history, but is a live interaction with a stranger to them. The average cost of those visits is about $65. The notes from the visit don’t go into their personal physicians EMR, and they are rarely, if ever, reimbursed or covered by insurance plans. But that’s not the model of telemedicine that has me enthusiastic.
The telemedicine that extends primary care access to which I refer is one that is used by a patient’s personal physician. Often it is set up as a “store and forward” application. I log in from a smart phone, laptop, or desktop computer, enter the presenting chief complaint, fill in a questionnaire, handle my financial responsibility (copay, no pay, or full cost are all options giving traditional and concierge physicians a plethora of options), and off it goes to my personal physician. As soon as they have the time to review my questionnaire, and perhaps view a video or some photos to see my rash, swelling, or other signs and symptoms, they can take 5 minutes, order what I need from the pharmacy through e-prescribing, prepare a response to me from a library of responses that is custom to them, and push “send” to respond back to me. Copies of the visit note go to the EMR, the e-prescribing system, and payment arrangements are handled either by the telemedicine vendor, the insurance biller of the practice, or in some cases, no bill is prepared as it may be included in my concierge membership contract.
If you’d like to know more about how easily this can be added to your practice, give me a call and we can discuss your options. We’ve chosen MeVisit as our exclusive partner. If you’d like to chat with them, we have a special relationship with them and they’ve offered an exclusive arrangement for our clients.