Telemedicine

Teledermatology – 6 Lessons Learned

A Report on Teledermatology

As 2015 comes to a close, I want to share the most valuable lessons we’ve learned from operating a teledermatology solution.

Patient Fit

Obviously, there are a lot of potential patients that can benefit from a teledermatology visit. Access to a dermatologist can sometimes be challenging and even if a patient has a scheduled appointment, making that appointment can often be difficult given our busy schedules. With that said, from what our dermatologists tell us, the best teledermatology candidates share some common characteristics. Cash pay patients: For many of these patients, teledermatology is usually a no-brainer given that a virtual visit can represent a significant discount to a in-person appointment. Patients with high-deductible insurance plans also experience the same benefit. Working parents: As mentioned before, getting to the clinic can be challenging and nobody realizes this more than busy parents. Established patients: While some patients choose a teledermatology visit as their initial care, we see the most volume from patients who have an established relationship with the dermatologist.

Most Common Diagnosis Treated

Over 40% of our telemedicine visits are for Acne. About a third are for Post-Op visits. As you might expect, the remaining patients are comprised of common dermatological conditions (Eczema, Rosacea, Psoriasis).

Patient Satisfaction

Our experience is in-line with what most published studies have found. Patients love it! Most of our patients report they are Very Satisfied with their telemedicine visit and the majority would recommend the service to a friend or family member. What is surprising is the wide age range of patients using telemedicine. We’ve seen patients from 18 all the way up to 74 years young!

Workflow

Clinic workflow is vital to success in healthcare. Starting anything new, like teledermatology, can be disruptive to any effectively managed process and so we’ve monitored this closely. We’ve had to constantly improve how practices sign up patients, introducing new tear pads that allow clinic staff to offload the patient signup process. In addition, we’ve introduced a messaging system that streamlines questions patients have about their treatment plan.

Marketing

A teledermatology solution without marketing support can make it difficult for a clinic to realize the full benefits of offering telemedicine. For this reason, we now provide a full suite of marketing assets to assist the clinic with ramping up telemedicine in their practice. Marketing is not a one-time thing–it is an ongoing activity that clinics just don’t have the time to do and we can now help support clinics with this aspect of their business.

Benefits Aren’t All Monetary

While teledermatology brings in revenue just as in-person visits do, the benefits are far greater than that. Teledermatology helps with patient retention. Those patients that miss their clinic visit now have the option to do a telemedicine visit–maintaining continuity of care and keeping that patient engaged with your practice. Practices using our platform have very high patient satisfaction and offering telemedicine helps maintain that level of satisfaction. Some benefits have no monetary value but help the dermatologist provide a very high-level of care and peace of mind. A great example of this are Post-Op visits. Now the dermatologist has a secure way see the healing progress after surgery and detect infections much earlier, all without sacrificing valuable clinic time for a simple check up. In fact, just last week our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Peña, performed a post-op visit with a patient who reported healing well but spotted an infection from the submitted pictures.

Want to learn more about MyDerm Portal and how we can help implement teledermatology in your dermatology practice? Schedule a demo at a time that works best for you http://mydermportal.com/myderm-portal-demo/

Achieving the Triple Aim with Telemedicine

In 2008, when Don Berwick authored the Triple Aim, he set forth a vision to improve the healthcare of all Americans. This week, as we celebrate National Public Health week, I want to revisit the goals of the Triple Aim and start a discussion about how telemedicine can help us realize these goals.

At its heart, the Triple Aim is an effort to improve the U.S. healthcare system by simultaneously pursuing three goals: 1) improving the patient experience, 2) improving population health, and 3) reducing the cost of care.

Patient Experience

Whether it is long-wait times at the point of care or having to take off work to see a physician, patient’s face a multitude of issues when trying to engage with the healthcare system. While we have the most advanced diagnostic tests and medical devices, the way we deliver care has remained mostly unchanged for the past 40 years. People can set up dates with the swipe of a finger on Tinder, have anything delivered to your front door in a few hours using Favor, but most patients still have to drive to the doctor’s office for a simple acne follow-up.

Telemedicine is changing that by offering a transformational improvement to the existing healthcare delivery system. Now with a simple web platform or phone app, patients can be seen from the comfort of their home, without wait-times or travel. In addition, recent studies have found that patients are highly-satisfied with this mode of communication with their physician (no surprise here).

Not only are patients satisfied with telemedicine technology, but it is easy to see how physicians are also eager to engage with their patients over the web. Unlike EMR’s where government regulation has mandated adoption, we have seen a significant uptick in physician adoption of telemedicine with zero government intervention!

Improving Population Health

Improving public health requires that patients have access to healthcare. For many people, a drive to the hospital or a physician office is not a short trip. If this is the case, it is easy to see why so many people wait until they have an emergency to see a physician. Prevention and proper chronic care management is key to maintaining and improving health.

With telemedicine visits, access to a specialist no longer involves taking the day off. Whether it is the early detection of a life-threatening melanoma or consistent heart disease management, a doctor visit or follow-up is as easy as logging into a mobile phone app! As we reach critical mass with telemedicine adoption, I expect to find a population more engaged with their healthcare. And more engaged patients always leads to a healthier population.

Lowering costs with Telemedicine

Convenience is always a factor when deciding to seek care. But costs are an even greater factor. While I won’t go into specific details (google RAND Health Insurance Experiment), higher costs have been demonstrated to prevent even sick patients from visiting a physician. To see how telemedicine reduces costs you just have to look at the most frugal customers: employers. A 2014 study found that 37 percent of large employers planned to cover telemedicine visits this year. Better yet, just google online doctor visits and you’ll see a multitude of services offering virtual visits as low as $35–compare that to the average price of a typical clinic visit of about $100.

Telemedicine is a cost saver not only for patients but also for physicians and insurers. For physicians, they can now treat a patient using far fewer resources and thus can afford to offer these visits at a reduced cost. For insurers, many of whom are feeling the strain of all the new expensive biologic therapies, this should be a welcome cost savings.

Our business was founded on public health principles: improve care, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce the cost of care for all. With MyDerm Portal, we are marching towards the achievement of the Triple Aim and are proud to be doing our part to improve public health!