How telepsychiatry helps keep costs low
Remote healthcare is still relatively new and has been slow to be adopted on a large scale, but many who have taken advantage of telemedicine services are finding that the financial aspect is well worth the transition. While telepsychiatry can’t completely replace an in-person visit with a Psychiatrist, it can be a valuable option for areas where access to those types of professionals is limited at best.
Many studies have been conducted to evaluate the financial benefits of telepsychiatry to see if this form of healthcare is truly impactful when it comes to keeping costs low. One study found that 7 of 12 instances of telepsychiatry were cost-effective when used past the break-even point (and when used in conjunction with a business plan.) Another found that telepsychiarty saved nearly $97,000 a year by reducing patient transfer costs, missed appointments, and a reduction in travel expenses.
Travel seems to be one area of great savings on both the patient and professional side. When doctors and patients don’t have to go out of the way to reach each other, healthcare costs are dramatically lower and time is saved as well.
Telepsychiatry is also beneficial for patients with other types of geographic restrictions–not just rural communities. Urban areas where wait times are long and clinics are saturated means patients have another obstacle to overcome. Prisons also often benefit and lead to more safe consultations if the provider has concerns for his/her safety. One study showed that this form of care saved correctional facilities anywhere from $12,000 to $1M. This means safer prisons, government spending savings, and necessary care provided to a large population base.
Because a patient can be connected with the care they need regardless of location, psychiatric healthcare can be delivered more seamlessly and effectively–cutting down on costs.
How to get started
Launching your telepsychiatry department begins with a few best practices:
- Hire a mix of licensed mental health professionals. This guarantees you can provide the different types of care your patients will need.
- Get creative. Take advantage of this form of telemedicine to encourage patient care follow-through with chronic conditions.
- Study your billing. Make sure you’re being reimbursed for all administered care and are coding telemedicine visits properly to avoid claim denials.
- Make it available in your ER. Manage costs by making tele psychiatry available in your emergency room.
With telepsychiatry, the doctor is always in. While it may not yet be the answer for every type of healthcare provider, telemedicine continues to become increasingly popular for its extensive savings–both of time and financial resources.
What are your thoughts on telemedicine and cost savings? Tweet us your feedback at @BHMhealthcare on Twitter.