The entire healthcare industry is currently under significant change. The Affordable Care Act has increased the number of Americans with health insurance. And while that has increased the number of people seeking out medical care, at the same time the number of doctors graduating and seeking employment in the healthcare system is decreasing. Predictions show the US will be short by as many as 91,500 physicians by 2020, with that number swelling to more than 130,600 by 2025.
Enter telemedicine. Even though it’s important to build a long term solution to rectify the shortage, telemedicine has a way of quickly taking over the impact of this shortage. It may be something your practice is considering for a variety of reasons.
It can increase physician productivity
A physician’s time is very valuable. Yet physicians often find themselves with a lot of wasted time throughout the day left empty by patient cancellations or scheduling problems. Telemedicine services can allow a physician to use downtime productivity, meeting with more patients that truly have a need.
It can provide specialty services even in remote locations
Doctor shortages are especially high in the rural communities. While they may have generalists on hand, rarely are specialists in place. Telemedicine can relieve shortages, and bring in the right people for the patients most in need.
It can initiate collaboration
As more doctors build up unique specialties, working on cases specific in nature, telemedicine allows them to share that expertise with other doctors from around the world. This can bring fast acting solutions to conditions that may have otherwise gone untreated.
Yet with all of the benefits also comes risk.
Patient records are at greater risk
With more people needing access to patient files also comes more risk. It’s important to choose programs that can easily be accessed by any doctor or medical personnel you choose to do business with, make the process easy and seamless from any device in the world, while at the same time meeting the highest standards of control.
Cloud applications can increase risk
While there is a growing trend for medical practices to use cloud based storage and applications to eliminate the costs of having to maintain internal systems, and to allow access to data across a variety of electronic devices from anywhere in the world, choosing cloud based applications should be done with care. Chosen vendors should be analyzed for their security standards to ensure your data is well cared for at all times.
Different locations, different rules
Collaborating with a doctor in a different state increases your risk. But when you open up your patient files to medical personnel from different countries, the risks increase tenfold. Is your data being encrypted as it’s being uploaded or downloaded for view? Are the devices safe and secure on both ends? Do all parties meet your safety standards?
While the only thing that is for sure in the coming months and years within the medical world is change, there are ways to better prepare yourself and your business to ensure safety throughout. If you have questions about risks associated with the new way of running a modern day medical practice, give us a call.