It's so expected as to be mundane at this point, but healthcare costs are indeed rising.
As the New York Times reports, health plans nationwide are reporting rate increases for 2017. And many are very large -- Blue Cross Blue Shielf of Texas is seeking an increase of nearly 60%.
These rising costs are, of course, felt by individuals and families buying health insurance. They're perhaps felt by insurance companies. And they are felt acutely by hospital systems and healthcare providers -- who are often left with the burden of picking up the slack when the insurance, the individual, and the payment doesn't quite cover the true costs of care.
We believe that there is such a swell of support for telemedicine right now because of the context of rising costs in which we find ourselves. Telemedicine is a way for healthcare collaboration to happen, for care coordination to happen, and for key metrics to come into line -- all without huge investments of time or money in implementation.
10 simple ways that we see telemedicine playing a key role in cutting costs in the medical context in which we find ourselves:
- Telemedicine can influence key indicators directly. Key indicators, like length of stay, can be very directly influenced by telemedicine. That means that you can use telemedicine systems to create interventions in the areas your system is struggling in.
- Telemedicine can make it easier to factor in the "intangibles." Being a healthcare provider is almost insurmountably complex. Telemedicine makes it easier for all "voices" and all aspects of a patient's life to be heard and factored in -- something that improves outcomes and decreases costs through fewer treatments and less noncompliance.
- Gaps in EMRs and EHRs can be patched and addressed.
- Improvements in care coordination don't have to be complex. In fact, we found that the simpler care coordination tools actually had better outcomes than the higher-cost implementations.
- Long term care, a key cost center, is a particularly high-leverage place to use telemedicine.
- Hardware should be cheap and readily available. We always balk when providers say they need fancy or expensive equipment to do telemedicine-based healthcare collaboration. In fact, the best camera is the one already in your pocket.
- All of the key components in health costs decreasing can be influenced by telemedicine.
- Telemedicine-supported care coordination can help with super-utilizers. When patients fall between the cracks, it costs them their health, and it costs everyone money. Telemedicine-based care coordination can be the missing link.
- Care coordination works better than incentives for decreasing length of stay.
- Telemedicine has played some key roles in affecting costs already.
Not all telemedicine is created equal. Some telemedicine solutions are so intensive to implement, that returns may not be reaped -- ever. So it's certainly not one-size-fits all, but telemedicine -- especially hybrid store-and-forward solutions that don't require expensive hardware -- can play a large role in getting healthcare costs down.
For more on how telemedicine can help your organization address rising costs, explore our free quick guide to telemedicine: