Healthcare is radically changing, and at the heart of this revolution is telehealth. For medical providers, it is important to understand what is leading this shift and how you can position your telehealth services to appeal to the convenience-driven informed health consumer.
With the pervasiveness of technology in our everyday lives, consumers have come to expect a high level of convenience and affordability, even from healthcare providers. This is why telemedicine is on pace to redefine how patients access care and manage their health outcomes. It is not just important to understand how telehealth will rewrite medical care, but, more specifically, why this shift is occurring.
And the largest groups leading the way in this digital healthcare takeover?
The Millennials and Generation Z.
This demographic, often referred to as digital natives, were born and raised with technology being an integral part of how they consume and interact with the world around them. Not surprisingly, their need for on-demand access extends well beyond just the retail industry. Researchers have found that only 67% of Millennials and 55% of Generation Z adults have a primary care physician. And, the sole reason why they are opting out of traditional medical care?
A lack of convenient and affordable healthcare options.
By offering technology-driven solutions that enable patients to access medical care when and where it is convenient for them, telehealth will be able to provide a more seamless patient experience.
But, that’s not all that telehealth offers.
Increased medical outcomes.
In addition, without having to travel to see a doctor, or be limited to certain office hours to receive medical treatment, patients will have more convenient ways to follow-up with their primary care physicians. And, the research shows that 79% of patients scheduled a telehealth follow-up appointment because of its ease of use. With patients receiving the aftercare they need to improve their health outcomes, patient satisfaction, and overall health should also be enhanced through telehealth.
Greater access to care for rural patients.
With up to 20% of Americans living in rural areas at least 50 minutes from a healthcare facility, telehealth makes access to even basic medical care possible for a significant portion of the country. Research has found that not only does telemedicine provide around the clock access to the most underserved populations, but it has been 69% successful in improving the health outcomes of this rural patient subset.
Lower costs for quality medical care.
Telehealth ushers in a cheaper, more efficient model for healthcare, especially in avoiding emergency room visits. With the average emergency room visit ranging in cost from $309 to more than $1,500, telehealth can reduce this down more than tenfold. This not only saves the hospital money and enables their staff to be utilized for more urgent and complex medical cases, but it empowers the hospital system to reinvest those savings to improve the level of care overall.
Reduced burnout for medical providers.
With the average doctor’s appointment lasting less than 20 minutes, many physicians lack the necessary time to truly manage their patient caseload. However, with telehealth, much of the administrative work is done online, freeing up the physician to spend more time with the patient and focus more on each patient, thereby improving both the level of satisfaction of care for both parties involved.
Greater brand reach.
Since telehealth is not restricted by geographic location, hospital systems and medical providers can expand their brand reach to patients that would not have used their in-person medical services. This also enables providers to tap into a larger audience without having to open up or acquire physical locations in other areas. In this way, the barrier to growing your medical practice has been eliminated and replaced with a low-cost, highly convenient medical care model that patients are eager to use.
As some estimates point to telemedicine growing to be a massive $44 billion industry in the United States alone by 2026, offering a virtual appointment option is becoming a must to attract and retain patients. How you position your telehealth services will be key in your ability to tap into the healthcare shift that is well upon us.