The Cost Saving Benefits of Telehealth
Telehealth is one of the fastest-growing healthcare services in the world today.
Thanks to modern technological development, the telehealth industry now offers a wide variety of medical services, appointments, and previously inaccessible resources to the public. Today, patients can receive care for checkups, assessments, mental health evaluations, and more through telehealth platforms and telehealth-specific companies. Accessibility, convenience, and efficiency are just a few benefits that telehealth brings to the table for those who use telehealth services. But perhaps the most apparent benefit of telehealth is the cost-saving advantage.
When reliable care is accessible from the comfort of your own home, overall medical costs can be dramatically reduced.
People love to save money. People especially love to save money on the goods and services they already pay for anyway. If you asked around, you might be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be interested in saving money, no matter the product.
Patients who experience higher ticket prices for medical services are less likely to seek the needed medical care they deserve. Many would agree that a significant reduction in medical costs could positively impact their financial situation.
The blog below will reveal how veterans can genuinely benefit from using a virtual HIPAA compliant platform and save money through telehealth technologies.
Veterans already face many obstacles in their daily lives, and receiving affordable and convenient health care shouldn’t be one of them. Telehealth eliminates the need for high medical costs and lengthy wait times and allows veterans to get back to living a happy and healthy life.
So, can telehealth reduce overall costs for veterans?
Let’s find out!
How Telehealth Lowers Healthcare Costs
1. In-Person Appointments vs. Virtual Appointments
Comparing the cost-saving benefits of telehealth to traditional appointments.
In a study conducted by Red Quill Consulting, Inc., evidence showed that telehealth could indeed reduce overall costs for patients. For example, while the average price of an in-person appointment is between $136 and $176 per visit, the cost of a virtual telehealth appointment is approximately $50 on average.
That’s a total of 60% to 70% in savings!
One significant difference in the cost of an in-person appointment versus a telehealth appointment is the potential co-pay cost. Co-pays for virtual appointments are often lower in price than the co-pays for in-office visits.
It is important to note that the co-pay costs difference depends on both the insurance used and the healthcare provider. Before booking a telehealth appointment, please be sure to call your insurance company and your provider and ask about costs for your virtual healthcare visit.
Another benefit of telehealth is the reduction in the number of follow-up visits. In the same study from Red Quill Consulting, it was found that 83% of telehealth visits required a follow-up visit.
This means that less than 1 in 5 patients needed subsequent appointments after the initial visit.
Fewer follow-up visits can mean lower appointment costs, which equals more money in your pocket!
2. Receiving Care Promptly
Obtaining medical evidence is faster and easier than ever.
Some providers who treat veterans may not have the availability to take on new patients for several months or may not accept new patients for extended periods of time.
When there is a shortage of specialists available for veterans, telehealth can provide relief.
In some cases, telehealth appointments can be booked the same day or within just a few days of needing the appointment. When veterans receive prompt medical care, they can often solve their medical needs sooner. Once the veteran obtains the medical evidence they need, they can then file their disability claim with the VA.
Telehealth empowers veterans by providing them with timely access to health care services.
Instead of having to wait months for an available provider, the veteran can proactively move one step closer to a potential disability claim increase on their terms.
3. Faster Turnaround Times for Obtaining Medical Evidence
Current telehealth technologies allow veterans to gain near-instant access to the help they need.
Connecting with a licensed provider or medical professional has never been easier. Many aspects of in-person appointments (from traveling to the appointment to receiving medical evidence or lab results) can significantly delay clinical outcomes. But with the rapid advancement of telehealth services, the time between the appointment and those clinical outcomes can be reduced considerably.
Some veterans need a quick solution for obtaining medical evidence for their disability claim submission. Many veterans’ disability claims are denied due to a lack of medical evidence.
Furthermore, if a veteran is submitting a new claim or appealing a previous claim, there may be filing deadlines that the veteran must meet. Telehealth offers a fast, affordable, and convenient solution to this hurdle.
Many veteran-focused telehealth companies understand that there may be time constraints for a client’s VA disability claim.
Because of this, they will often offer faster turnaround times than a traditional or private provider could provide. Additionally, some companies provide expedited medical evidence (for an additional fee).
The companies that focus solely on veteran clients, and specialize in veterans’ needs, can provide independent medical opinions in as little as 48 hours. Some of the companies that offer fast turnaround times for medical evidence include Telemedica LLC and American Medical Experts.
4. Fewer Work Days Missed – Time Is Money
Convenient and accessible medical appointments.
Telehealth also can save patients money over time by reducing the number of workdays missed for scheduled appointments. In-person medical appointments can sometimes take several hours. Attending a doctor’s appointment may mean having to take a partial or full-day off work, depending on the appointment type. For hourly or contracted workers, this can result in money lost and be detrimental to the patient’s financial situation.
However, through telehealth, these missed workdays are being significantly reduced.
Telehealth allows patients to quickly log on to a HIPAA compliant platform for an appointment at the touch of a button with convenience and instant access. This accessibility gives the patient flexibility for their appointment time and location.
For example, the patient could schedule their appointment just before or after their work shift and meet with the provider via video conference in their car, home, or a designated private location.
Traveling to and from a doctor’s office, sitting in a waiting room, and waiting for prescriptions all takes time. Telehealth eliminates the wait and commute and gets right down to what’s important – you, your time, and your money.
As the saying goes, time is money, and by saving you time, telehealth can undoubtedly save you money.
5. Telemedicine Saves Travel Distance & Time
Virtual appointments help veterans save on travel costs.
In this study, researchers examined all telemedicine visits conducted from the Veterans Affairs hospital in White River Junction, VT, between 2005 and 2013. Their objective was to calculate the cost-saving benefits in VA telemedicine volumes over time. All telemedicine visits based at the White River hospital were reviewed (5,695 visits). Travel distance and time saved were calculated in this study.
The study concluded that telehealth visits resulted in an average travel savings of 145 miles and 142 min per visit. This data equaled a total of 824,724 miles saved in travel and 13,400 hours of driving for all veterans who participated in the study.
This reduction in driving time and distance translated into an average of $28.86 in savings per telemedicine visit, or $18,555 savings per year.
According to a 2015 article published by the RAND Corporation, veterans travel an average of 14.5 miles one way to access veteran-specific medical care. For 14.5 miles traveled, at an average speed of 45 mph, it would take the veteran approximately half an hour to arrive at their destination. Factor in traffic, time of day, and varying speed limits, and the time spent traveling can add up quickly.
By the time the veteran arrives back home, it can take them well over an hour just to travel to and from their appointment.
A separate study conducted by various international universities outlines the impact that telemedicine programs have on the well-being of the planet and all telehealth patients’ financial health. The research gathered from 2015 to 2019 shows that the patient saved a considerable amount of travel time and reduced fuel consumption while still receiving quality care.
Several benefits outlined in the study include:
+ A total of 1,928 hours of travel time saved in 2016
+ 15.2 tons of CO2 emissions reduced in 2016
+ An average of $622 saved annually in overall fuel costs and parking fees
+ An average savings of $86.13 per appointment
6. Telehealth & Clinical Outcomes
Telehealth can connect providers with veterans who live in rural or remote areas.
Outside of a city’s metropolitan area, there may not be many specialists available to veterans. However, with remote services, veterans can receive care that is comparable to an in-person appointment. The goal is not to save the health care system money but to improve patient care. A study by The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that telehealth’s clinical outcomes were either equal to or better than those of patients who received in-person care.
As we begin to look at the specific benefits of telehealth across all types of care, there is evidence that telehealth produces better clinical outcomes for veterans with certain mental health conditions. Veterans living in rural areas are less likely to receive mental health care than those living in the city.
Still, telehealth gives veterans easy access to mental health care professionals no matter where they live.
Not only does telepsychology reduce travel burdens, just as it does for all health care appointments, but it is proven to be a very successful means of monitoring a patient’s mental health. Telehealth has even helped decrease psychiatric hospitalization by 31%.
Telehealth can also eliminate the stressors of travel for patients with situational and social anxiety.
It may be difficult for some veterans to describe their symptoms adequately if they feel uncomfortable. But through telehealth, the veteran can attend the appointment on their terms and decide when and where they feel most comfortable talking with a provider. A comfortable client means a successful and productive evaluation, which leads to better clinical outcomes over time.
When the provider can identify the veteran’s needs and ailments through open and honest communication, fewer follow-up visits and, therefore, fewer co-pays and appointment fees are incurred.
The Bottom Line
In the past several years, many American Veterans have begun to use virtual health care for a wide variety of medical needs. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that in 2019, 2.6 million virtual health care episodes were conducted, and 900,000 veterans used telehealth platforms in the same year. These numbers show us that telehealth is quickly becoming a valuable and highly sought-after choice for veterans.
Telehealth creates ease and accessibility for veterans and can facilitate a relaxed and productive appointment.
When patients can receive health care without leaving their homes, the savings start to add up in significant ways. Technological advancements have certainly opened the doors to a brighter and healthier future – one where potentially all veterans can receive the medical care they deserve without sacrificing time, quality, or money.
**It is important to note that telehealth should be used as a substitution rather than a replacement for veterans with physical or mental health concerns. It is recommended that patients who use telehealth services should still schedule an in-person appointment at least once a year for a physical check-up. If you have a serious health concern, call your doctor or visit the nearest health care facility.