Telehealth is a powerful tool going into the future, allowing you to interface with patients like never before. You can increase patient cooperation and compliance and even take on more clients by working remotely when you have the time. Increasing revenue streams is a very good reason to invest in starting a telehealth component for your practice.
But that word, investment—what does it actually mean in real-world money? What are the risks, costs, and time constraints associated with starting a telehealth practice, or adding one to your office? Though there are definite costs in both money and time associated with starting a virtual practice, you'll find that they are often well worth the investment.
The Costs of Implementing Telehealth
While the majority of telehealth is virtual and program-based, that doesn't mean there aren't physical investments that need to be made. Beyond these initial physical components, there is the cost of the software itself and the subscription with the platform that administers it. These are only a few of the potential startup costs, though.
Hardware & Tech
If you're going to be seeing patients remotely, you need cutting-edge tech. You want to ensure you're using the fastest internet available in your area. Additionally, having top-of-the-line tablets and computers with audio and visual capabilities will help you see everything you need when working with patients.
Many offices opt to completely overhaul their systems when starting down the telehealth path. This usually means new equipment for each provider, as well as new computers in each room. You will likely not need to update administrative computers as long as they're working fine, but the process of embracing telehealth does require updated tech.
Because your telehealth software will be tailored to your office, the cost will vary. Additionally, there is the time necessary to allow the software to adapt and learn your routines. Smaller offices will have a lower startup cost in general, but not always—specialty and specific needs can change the cost.
Setting up and adding practice data to the platform is the biggest software investment. Adding data is what makes telehealth run seamlessly for your clinic.
After the initial cost to implement the software to your needs, there is a monthly subscription to stay connected and updated. Ultimately it's simply another monthly cost of doing business, like internet or phone access.
Whenever you implement new protocols in your office, you'll need to ensure your staff can handle them. Taking time out to ensure proper staff training is essential, and should be part of the onboarding process from your telehealth platform service provider.
You will need to make sure that day-to-day duties are covered as normal, and your team will need to dedicate time to training. In some cases, this could mean longer hours, overtime, or both. When the platform is in place, however, you should find that your office runs smoother and more efficiently, while increasing the number of patients you can see.
Marketing Your New Services
If have had a brick-and-mortar practice for some time, expanding into virtual health will require some marketing. A good telehealth platform will help you market to your area and beyond, drawing in more patients. This will create more revenue and in turn, help off-set the cost of starting telehealth in the first place.
Is it Worth it to Invest in Telehealth?
The short answer is a resounding yes—the amount of patients interested and using telehealth has increased 30% from 2019-2020 alone. This is a market that is full of people who want virtual visits and believe in the model. You can see current patients who prefer virtual visits using a telehealth platform as well as your access to future patients through telehealth.
The price associated with starting a virtual practice can seem high at first, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Providing better care to your existing patients while opening up your practice to new patients is a huge benefit. A robust telehealth platform also allows you to hire, order supplies, and interface with specialists/referrals faster than ever before. What's best is there is a consistent audit trail for each process you undertake—you can always see where money and time are spent.
ViTel has made it our mission to help doctors reach patients with access like never before. Even before the pandemic, people were turning towards virtual visits. Now telehealth is a major aspect of healthcare and increasing access to medical services like never before.
If you would like more information about the cost of starting a telehealth practice, contact ViTel for a free demo today. We can show you just how effective and lucrative an investment into telehealth systems can be.