You’ve probably heard this a lot – telemedicine is working wonders in reducing the cost of healthcare. But are those claims true?
Research published in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine estimates the net cost savings per telemedicine visit to range from $19-$121 per visit.
The potential of telemedicine
Telemedicine is witnessing action-packed years. A study predicts that the telemedicine market will hit $130.5 billion by 2025. Various health providers have reported significant savings with telemedicine. Let’s examine some figures:
UAB Medicine reduced the average wait time for a stroke consult to only six minutes in rural Alabama.
Brazilian petroleum giant Petrobras has successfully used telemedicine to care for its offshore oil production workers; out of 965 telemedicine visits conducted, 93.2% let to patient discharge with only 6.8% requiring evacuations – a 50% reduction.
The potential of cost reduction with telemedicine looks so promising that even the tech giant Amazon jumped in the fray with Amazon Care, a virtual primary care clinic catering to some of the company’s employees.
How is telemedicine reducing costs?
Telemedicine has been proven to reduce readmissions and other adverse events at a cost that is less than the cost of the problems themselves. We have already talked about the potential earlier; now let’s see various ways through which telemedicine can reduce costs.
- Remote analysis services such as telepathology and teleradiology enable resource pooling, resulting in lower costs and higher quality care. Smaller facilities that don’t have enough volume can share resources via telemedicine to offer around the clock coverage at a lower cost. Radiology services in the US are very expensive. But telemedicine can translate into cost savings for the healthcare system. Medical images such as X-Rays, MRIs or CT scans can be securely transferred to offshore locations for getting high-quality radiology analysis at a cheaper cost.
- Remote monitoring technologies are enabling patients to be monitored on an ambulatory basis when they might have been monitored as an inpatient previously. This has resulted in tremendous cost reductions for health care providers. Bluetooth-enabled medical devices allow frequent monitoring of vitals (weight, heart rate, blood pressure), which helps the doctors in better diagnosis and also allows pro-active healthcare interventions by reducing the risk of critical medical conditions like a heart attack or kidney failure. The introduction of VR has further upped the stakes. At the last CES event in Las Vegas, a well-known Israeli firm debuted a new telehealth-VR medical platform, which will include apps that consumers can use at home such as accessing personal healthcare data, exercise repositories, and apps to exercise the brain. The platform can also be used for remote monitoring by physicians and family members.
A HIPPA compliant IoT platform like Bridgera Monitoring is a perfect foundation to build solutions like these.
- Telemedicine is a boon for behavioral health access. It’s estimated that over 8 million American adults experience mental illness in a year and the number is steadily increasing. With telemedicine, patients can find available doctors for their specific mental health issues in different geographic locations. There is a significant shortage of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals throughout the country – it’s estimated that there is only one psychiatrist per 30,000 people in close to 4,000 areas in the US.
- At-home Triage Services such as tele-visits with nurses and primary care physicians reduce the unnecessary and expensive use of emergency room visits, benefitting both patients and the insurance companies. Such services allow delivery of continuous care at a cheaper cost by utilizing lower-cost resources. Through various telemedicine apps, patients can schedule a virtual appointment and consult a physician almost round the clock from the comfort of their homes. A low-cost resource such as a certified nurse assistant can visit the patient at home instead of a doctor who is a high-cost resource. The assistants can easily take care of routine treatment and vital readings. In case of any complications, they can capture a few pictures and videos of the patient and consult with the doctor online who can analyze the high-quality images.
The road ahead
Telehealth has shown maximum potential in areas like chronic condition management, remote patient monitoring, and delivering behavioral healthcare. Outside of these, the evidence base remains insufficient. While the volume of research is growing, it goes without saying that telemedicine has led to better health outcomes by improving access to care, lowering costs, and providing early interventions.
Today, telehealth includes everything from telephone consultations and live video feeds via Skype to digital CT scans and remote monitoring of intensive-care units. Though the technology can’t replace all the nuances of in-person clinical care, the health care industry is certainly poised for a change.
How Bridgera can help
Bridgera has been developing custom smart/ digital telemedicine solutions for its customers using the leading edge technologies like IoT, Analytics, Mobility and Cloud. Our technology platform is the fuelling engine behind creating new solutions to help healthcare systems become smarter and more efficient. Our Bridgera DevOps team develops effective platform and offers complete support to the IoT implementations, ensuring both efficiency and perfection.
Please CONTACT US today to know more about our Telemedicine solutions.