Digital services have proved to be reliable and efficient in medical operations. Some doctors use digital services to advertise their products while others use various software to monitor their clients as well as prescribe drugs to them.
A few years ago it was difficult to imagine being able to monitor and prescribe drugs to patients remotely, but nowadays it’s commonplace. What’s more, doctors have taken advantage of similar technologies to save money and maximize profits in their medical businesses.
Below are some of the ways through which doctors are relying on digital services to save money:
Sophisticated payment software
Doctors are some of the busiest people in the world. Some of them rarely get more two breaks in a day. Sometimes they have juggle between several things to ensure everything is running smoothly. That’s the reason most of them are investing in digital services to make their work easier.
The good thing is that there are several software companies that are focusing on the healthcare industry. This has helped doctors save money that would have rather been stolen in one way or another. For instance, sophisticated software solutions provided by outside services help physicians negotiate payer contracts with insurance companies.
The golden years are becoming that much easier with each passing year thanks to quality of life improvements made possible through technological breakthroughs. Tech is empowering seniors to age in place much longer than anticipated. Furthermore, tech innovation is enhancing medical equipment and medications, ultimately improving seniors’ quality of life.
Data Analysis for Improved Care
Machine learning and artificial intelligence is significantly enhancing healthcare for seniors across the United States as well as the rest of the world. Tech is now capable of analyzing information in an incredibly efficient manner. Between health monitoring systems, smart watches for seniors and in-depth data analysis, there are all sorts of new and creative ways to monitor senior health.
Predictive analytics will likely prove quite important in the future for regular doctors, dentist for sale practices and others, ultimately empowering healthcare workers to predict seniors’ health challenges. It is quite possible predictive analytics will soon accurately predict a patient’s likelihood for a potentially devastating fall, a heart attack, stroke or other medical problem. The prudent use of such predictive analytics will make it easier for seniors to obtain the care they need for high-quality living throughout the entirety of the golden years.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine visits have been able to provide an increasing number of patients with virtual access to quality care without requiring in-person appointments.
However, many patients are still reluctant to accept telemedicine as an option, due to fears concerning out of pocket costs. Let us go over how telemedicine companies charge patients and the different ways that it can be the more affordable option.
How Telemedicine Companies Charge You
Paying Cash Per Visit
Several telemedicine companies ask patients to pay cash for each visit, which allows uninsured patients quick and easy access to healthcare professionals. A 2017 study shows that the average cost of a telemedicine visit is $79, compared to $149 for the average doctor’s office visit.
Paying Through Insurance
Many telemedicine companies work ‘one on one’ with doctors, who bill your telemedicine visit to your health insurance, providing an even more affordable option for many patients. As telemedicine becomes increasingly more popular, health insurance plans are starting to offer coverage for telemedicine visits on a more widespread basis. Your insurance may even cover medication prescribed to you by a telemedicine provider.
How Telemedicine Saves You Money
Eliminates Transportation Costs
An important way that telemedicine is more affordable than in-person visits is that virtual appointments eliminate the cost of transportation. With telemedicine, you can enjoy access to quality care without paying for public transportation, ride-sharing, gas or parking costs. This can be especially beneficial for families living in rural areas and forced to travel long distances to meet with their provider in person.
Eliminates Childcare Costs
Another factor making telemedicine more affordable is the elimination of childcare costs associated with a parent’s ‘in office visit’. Parents can attend a 15-20 minute virtual doctor’s appointment in the comfort of their own home, without the worry and expense of hiring a sitter for their children, traveling the 2-3 hours to and from their appointment, sitting in the waiting room, and time meeting with the doctor.
More Affordable Than In-Person Visits
Even paying out of pocket for telemedicine appointments, they are still more affordable than in-person visits. The cost of a telemedicine session is not only less out of pocket but results in lower co-pays if your coverage is through insurance. Cost sharing will vary based on your insurance plan, but by and large insurers compensate providers for telemedicine but at lower rates, which translates into lower patient co-pays too.
Numerous follow-up appointments can rack up costly co-pays and transportation costs for such a short visit. With a quick telemedicine appointment, you can continue receiving quality care at an affordable price, right at home or work.
Telemedicine platforms offer the more affordable healthcare option for both the insured and uninsured, while also eliminating the costs associated with physical visits. Be sure to check out platforms like Adviiseto find out how your insurance can help cover telemedicine visits. It is the modern doctor’s house call.
As the number of COVID-19 cases increases and social distancing measures remain, telehealth is making an integral contribution to healthcare. You could even say it has become a lifesaver.
A great way to reduce coronavirus spread and promote social distancing, telehealth enables stable patients to stay home while communicating with healthcare providers and receiving virtual medical care. It includes everything from making online appointments to conducting primary care visits through video chat – and is being adopted with greater frequency than ever.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “leveraging telemedicine whenever possible is the best way to protect patients and staff from COVID-19.”
Clearly, telehealth is an important tool that helps protect healthcare professionals and patients alike during these times. Yet even before the recent surge, telehealth visits were changing healthcare relationships for the better.
A January 2019 study published in The American Journal of Managed Care found that telehealth visits provide numerous benefits, including convenience for both the patients and healthcare providers.
The study concluded that virtual visits rated high among most patients, with most saying they would recommend telehealth appointments to family and friends. Patients also said it saved them the time it would take to visit to and from an appointment. Most patients and physicians said communication wasn’t lost through virtual visits.
For healthcare professionals, video visits are more efficient than in-office appointments, allowing them to see more patients each day. Telehealth also gives practices the option to extend hours without staffing an office. And recently, it has allowed healthcare professionals quarantined because of COVID-19 to treat patients remotely.
The Covid-19 Outbreak has completely upended our daily lives with social distancing measures and stay at home orders forcing most of the global population inside. One group who has been identified as being particularly at risk of infection throughout the crisis is the elderly.
Simultaneously because of the lock down procedures people are becoming more comfortable with using telemedicine solutions; during this outbreak period alone, we saw a 70% increase in the use of our phone and video-based teleconsultation services.
With at risk senior population required to stay inside, Telemedicine may prove to be the solution that can both keep our elderly population safe from this deadly virus and ensure they are still receiving the quality medical attention they need remotely.
With the world’s population growing older at historic levels, the “Silver Wave”, is upon us. This refers to the recent surge in the number of people over the age of 65, an age demographic which is anticipated to encompass more than 30 percent of the Europe’s population and 23 percent of the United States’ population by 2060.
This trend is also developing at concerning pace in Asia, where by 2030 it is expected that the region will house over 60 percent of the worldwide population of people age 65 and older. While this may not sound significant on it’s face, the economic implications alone raise several concerns, including a reduced labor force and strained healthcare systems.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law in March, has provided a lifeline for many businesses — including healthcare organizations. Amid the grim reality of medical equipment shortages and limited hospital beds, the CARES Act provides the healthcare industry much-needed relief.
Considering a significant number of practices are struggling to keep their doors open, and hospitals have experienced significant revenue loss from elective procedures being cancelled or postponed, the act has been pivotal in providing critical aid.
However, at over 800 pages, understanding the full impact of the act can be challenging. Below, I’m sharing how the CARES Act can benefit healthcare providers, as well as additional steps medical practices can take today to ensure the financial security of their organizations.
What You Need to Know About the PPP
By now, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been in place for a few weeks, and many healthcare practices with fewer than 500 employees have likely already submitted their applications. Whether you’ve already applied for the PPP or are weighing your options, here is some need-to-know information to consider.
At its core, the PPP gives businesses an incentive to keep their staff employed. Funds dispersed from this program can be used to cover up to eight weeks of payroll costs and other eligible expenses, such as rent, utilities and mortgage interest. This loan can provide practices with the necessary funds they need to keep their staff employed and continue serving their communities.
While the initial funding for the PPP from the CARES Act quickly ran out, another law passed in April 2020 provided another welcome injection of funding in the program.
By Juan Pablo Segura, president and co-founder, Babyscripts
In the past several months, novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has risen from humble beginnings in a Wuhan farmer’s market to international status: dominating the news cycle, exhausting the world’s hand sanitizer resources, and generally monopolizing the mental real estate of the developed world.
As new cases continue to be identified in the U.S., politicians are giving coronavirus the attention it deserves, responding to initial accusations of inadequacy with proposals for funding and reimbursements for testing and other precautionary measures.
One of the primary targets of this emergency funding is telehealth. New York’s Governor Cuomo and the NY Department of Financial services released a directive encouraging insurers to develop telehealth programs with participating providers.
Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego announced he was introducing a bill that would allow Medicaid to cover all COVID-19-related charges, including virtual appointments.
Major health industry groups like the Connected Health Initiative and the American Medical Association advocated for the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to telehealth and offer Medicaid reimbursements for telemedicine in emergency situations.
Many have cited this pandemic as the “put me in coach” moment for telehealth — digital innovation that has lagged in adoption because of cumbersome restrictions, red tape, and lack of funding, among other things. And it’s obvious why telehealth is the tool for this moment.
At its most basic level, telehealth can provide accurate information about the virus — what it is, what the symptoms are, and how to protect against it. It’s low-hanging fruit in the rank of benefits, as disinformation seems to be spreading faster than the virus itself.
A local Costco suffered a run on toilet paper and paper towels, while the soap aisle remained surprisingly undisturbed: “Are we prepping for a snowstorm or a virus?” one shopper wondered.
A viral (no pun intended) tweet from CNN stated that “38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona beer ‘under any circumstances’ because of the coronavirus.” The tweet sparked a rash of sardonic responses. “Thirty-eight percent of Americans shouldn’t be allowed to roam free,” wrote one Twitter user.
The statistic was later debunked in a statement by the CEO of Corona, but it proves how quickly and easily even the most ridiculous rumors can take hold in panic mode.
The simple security of receiving information from a trusted care provider through a mobile app or text notification can dramatically reduce the panic that rises from disinformation, and clear up confusion around prevention and precautions (and what beer you should be avoiding).
Technology has changed a dramatic amount over the last ten years alone, and digital health is now ever-present. From telemedicine and health-related wearables to online medical providers and health resources, digital health is growing faster than ever.
Consumers are using digital resources to better manage their health levels, and medical facilities are using digital technology to track, manage, and improve the health of their patients. Now, patients do not even have to meet in person to get the treatments or advice they need.
Putting power back into the hands of the patient while giving doctors and medical professionals access to the tools and data they need; the rise of digital healthcare is something that cannot be ignored.
Digital Healthcare for the Individual
Consumers have access to more technology than ever before, and that’s good news for those in the healthcare sector. Now that consumers can easily buy a wide range of wearable technologies, they can monitor their health levels from anywhere, and provide their doctors with detailed information. Going further than external wearables like fitness trackers, we have also seen pacemakers with their own dedicated monitoring apps.
This unprecedented level of data gathering is proving vital for catching early signs of health issues. The health industry is being forced to keep up the pace of tech innovation simply because of the wide range of benefits that those new technologies bring.
In a new survey conducted by Kareo, independent medical practices and billing companies shared the unprecedented challenges created for them and their patients by the coronavirus pandemic. More than 600 medical practices and 140 medical billing companies were interviewed by Kareo in late March.
The research uncovered the immediate actions medical practices and clinics are taking to ensure patient access to care through telemedicine solutions with 75% reporting either a current telemedicine option or the intent to deploy one soon. The survey also highlighted the risks to patients and independent medical practices with 9% of respondents reporting practice closures with many more concerned about potential practice closures as patient office visits plummet due to “stay at home” orders and other concerns. As Kareo was publishing these survey results, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, potentially providing a lifeline to the most severely impacted medical practices.
By mid-March, independent healthcare professionals were already facing the practice and personal impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, with 28% of practices only offering telemedicine visits and 9% of practices already closed, with many more concerned about the risk of future closure. While 63% of practices were still delivering on-site care, most of these practices were exploring options to move to hybrid or exclusively telemedicine-based care.
Kareo’s ongoing analysis of actual patient encounters across over 50,000 medical providers, found that by late March independent medical practices has experienced an approximately 35% decline in patient volume, raising alarm around both the apparent inability for patients to access care and the operational viability of medical practices if this trend continues.
Kareo’s research also highlighted the impact felt by the more than 5,000 medical billing companies across the country, with these service providers reporting immediate impacts on their businesses due to precipitous decline in medical practice patient volume. These companies play a critical role in the healthcare ecosystem by providing medical billing expertise that is essential for the financial viability of many independent medical practices. Financial risk to these service providers creates another risk for medical practices to manage as practice volumes ultimately return to normal.
To address “stay at home” orders and patient concerns about face-to-face medical encounters, healthcare professionals have rapidly turned to telemedicine solutions. By mid-March, fully 41% of independent medical practices reported offering telemedicine, up from 22% reported in Kareo’s State of the Independent Practice Report in late 2018.
An additional 34% reported current efforts to deploy telemedicine options, which ultimately will result in the vast majority (75%) of medical practices providing remote care solutions. In the third week of March, Kareo saw a 500% week-over-week increase in telemedicine visits while working to accommodate an over 3,000% increase in telemedicine adoption.
The easing of regulatory requirements related to telemedicine security and functionality allowed medical practices to access a broader set of possible telemedicine solutions, ranging from medically-specific options like Kareo Telemedicine that are HIPAA compliant and fully integrated with the broader patient engagement, electronic health record, and billing technology platform all the way to general video call technology such as Apple FaceTime. Easing Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance reimbursement requirements for telemedicine also supported the rapid pivot to virtual-care and are essential in supporting the financial viability of medical practices and their supporting medical billers.
“Independent medical practices stand as the cornerstone of the U.S. healthcare system and are responsible for more than two-thirds of annual patient visits,” said Dan Rodrigues, founder and CEO of Kareo. “Yet our research shows that even doctors are not immune to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Telemedicine and the CARES Act provide critical lifelines to ensure independent practices remain available to their patients through this crisis.”
There are several government programs that practices can take advantage of to ease financial burdens and maintain their current staff levels. Small business loans, tax relief, Medicare payment advances and grants are a few of the options currently available. In combination, these programs can help ensure that independent medical practices and clinics emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with minimal damage to the long-term viability of their business.
The CARES Act expands eligibility for loans under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act and authorizes the Small Business Administration to make $349 billion in Section 7(a) loans. The CARES Act also offers an employee retention tax credit (Employee Retention Credit) designed to encourage eligible employers to keep employees on their payroll. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded their current Accelerated and Advance Payment Program to a broader group of Medicare Part A providers and Part B suppliers. Details on the eligibility, and the request process are outlined in the Expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payment Program fact sheet. The expansion of these programs is also only for the duration of the public health emergency. For more information on resources available to help with the COVID-19 crisis, visit Kareo.com/covid-19.
Maven, the largest telemedicine provider for women’s and family health, announced a new partnership with MassHealth, the Massachusetts, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. MassHealth will provide free telemedicine appointments for members with COVID-19 symptoms with Maven’s network obstetric/gynecologists, maternal fetal medicine specialist, pediatricians, family physicians, and general practitioners for women and families in Massachusetts.
MassHealth members will be connected through an online navigation tool to Maven providers through on-demand chat and video appointments 24 hours a day through the use of any web-enabled device.
“During the COVID-19 emergency, MassHealth has made unprecedented efforts to eliminate barriers to health care access, including expansive coverage of telehealth services,” said Acting Medicaid Director Amanda Cassel Kraft. “We are excited to announce this partnership with Maven ?to provide medical support to our members seeking guidance on COVID-19 symptoms or risk factors.”
In the wake of COVID-19, women and families are dealing with a myriad of health concerns, from managing conditions related to a high risk pregnancy to being discharged from hospitals soon after giving birth to caring for a newborn. Telehealth now plays an essential role in giving these women and families the support and care they need from the safety of their own homes.
“This pandemic has raised serious concerns for millions of women who are pregnant or have just given birth,” said Kate Ryder, founder and CEO of Maven. “We have doctors available around the clock to support MassHealth members and alleviate the burden on the healthcare system during this public health crisis. Massachusetts has long been a leader in healthcare and other states should look to their innovative response to this crisis as a model.”
With the incredible demand for care, trusted clinical data and information, and resources around COVID-19, Maven has developed dedicated COVID-19 resources. This includes:
Ongoing webinar series led by healthcare professionals to provide clinical updates on the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic, answer member questions and address topics including pregnancy, fertility, anxiety and pediatrics. The next webinar will be held on Thursday, April 2 at 1:30 p.m. EST. Please register here.
Covid-19 support section in our member app for those looking to connect with specific providers.
Specific Maven provider in-app resources with the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.