The early adoption of telemedicine, a term often used interchangeably with telehealth, has surpassed the early adoption of electronic health records (EHRs), survey results show. Telehealth is even finding favor with specialists who experience significant burnout.
Telehealth platform company American Well reported at the ATA19 telehealth conference that physician adoption of telehealth increased 340 percent between 2015 and 2018. Even among providers who have not used telehealth, more of them are willing to try it.
Why is Telemedicine Becoming More Appealing?
Telemedicine has already been found to have numerous benefits to behavioral health and addiction treatment providers and their patients.
Closing care gaps: Specialists, including behavioral health clinicians, tend to practice in higher-population areas, creating fewer options for small towns and rural areas. Telemedicine could help bridge some of the care gaps found in behavioral health and addiction treatment.
Reducing care shortages: Although mental health needs are growing across the United States, there is also an increasing shortage of care providers. As addiction, suicide, and other behavioral health concerns increase, telemedicine may mean a difference between life and death.
Improving patient results: Experts note that telemedicine can make counseling and other types of substance abuse treatment more accessible to clients. This expanded accessibility can help individuals get support and make better decisions when faced with the option to use addictive substances.
Improving practice revenue: Telemedicine can be more convenient for patients than in-office visits. It reduces the risk of canceled appointments and no-shows. Faster check-ins can streamline the practice and improve billable hours.
What Are Some Concerns in Implementing Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is a growing technology, and the healthcare field overall is always changing. Researchers, clinicians, and administrators are working to resolve several issues associated with telemedicine. Some of these include:
Fragmented Care: Telemedicine offers a convenient source of care for many patients. At the same time, it could also lead to increased healthcare fragmentation if telemedicine providers do not coordinate with other members of a patient’s healthcare team.
Interoperability: Much like with EHRs, providers have many options for telehealth solutions. Unfortunately, the wide variety of solutions and software may limit interoperability. Behavioral health providers should be aware of this when entering the telemedicine space.
Measuring Value and Effectiveness: As U.S. healthcare moves to a value-based model, efforts to measure value and effectiveness should not exclude telemedicine. Experts at the American Telemedicine Association’s 2019 conference in New Orleans suggest that providers focus on building relationships with patients and asking telehealth users if they feel their needs were met.
Staff Effectiveness: All clinicians and support staff must be thoroughly prepared and trained for the adoption. Take time to address any questions and concerns. Be sure that remote workers have all the information, training, and equipment they need, and are aware of expectations.
Support Your Telemedicine Practice With Specialized EHR
BestNotes EHR was developed specifically to serve behavioral health and addiction treatment practices. Whether you’ve already invested in a telehealth program, you are just starting the process, or simply considering adding it to your practice, BestNotes can help you stay streamlined and cost-effective.
Contact us today to learn more about how BestNotes EHR can help you improve care, track patient outcomes, and increase practice revenue.