As a company that has worked in the telemedicine space for the past 10 years, and actually helped found a second opinion cancer company, I feel that we’re uniquely qualified to answer this question. Our first dive into telemedicine was actually in 2006 where we helped launch a teledermatology company. Since then, we’ve worked with over a dozen different specialties to add telemedicine to their practice/facility, and helped start multiple nationwide telemedicine companies. With that being said, we’ve turned away many more potential clients wanting to add telemedicine.
Telemedicine services are certainly not for every practice or specialty. We will answer the question if telemedicine is right for YOUR practice by asking you a series of questions. If you can answer yes to these questions, then that means that you’re pretty safe to proceed with adding telemedicine to your practice. If any answer is no, you should really reconsider until all answers are yes. For the purpose of this agreement, these questions are really targeted towards existing practices looking to introduce telemedicine into their practice.
1.) Have you decided if this is going to be a standalone business or part of your existing practice? Do you and your staff have the time to handle the logistical and administrative effort required to start and run a telemedicine company? Having time means that by introducing telemedicine, the rest of your practice will not suffer financially and your family won’t suffer emotionally. An easy way to decide on this is to ask your front desk if you could block out two hours a day for your telemedicine consults. If you can’t afford to do this due to patient demand, you probably need to rethink exactly how your going to handle introducing a new way to be busy into your practice.
2.) Are you planning to offer telemedicine services as a participating provider with insurance companies(this is the only question where a no is acceptable). If yes, has your state fully adopted the parity law? The adoption of the parity law means that payers are required to pay the same rate for a virtual and in-person visit. If it’s not a parity state, are you willing to get a license in a neighboring state that has adopted it? Rates for telemedicine consults are much 40-60% lower than in-person consults in the states that have not adopted the parity law.
3.) Have you succinctly been able to answer the question of why? Why do you feel it’s advantageous to add telemedicine to your practice? Why do you think patients will find value in this offering? The epitome of a waste of time and effort = offering a product or service that no one will buy or understand its purpose. If patients are already waiting 6 weeks to see you as a new patient and by offering a telemedicine service, your wait time extends to 8 weeks, can you really say that it’s worth it?
4.) Are you willing to spend at least 15k to get this new service off the ground and promoted? This is really the minimum you should have on hand for administrative, technological and marketing expenses. You can expect your costs to increase by 5-10k for each additional state that you’d like to work in. You need to have the ability to triple your marketing budget if you do NOT plan to offer your service through insurance companies.
5.) Does your practice have a substantial online presence? Does your website currently have a patient portal that the majority of your patients have adopted? The reason for these questions is pretty self-explanatory so we’ll only briefly touch on it. It your practice doesn’t utilize a patient portal and/or has a website from the 90s, it’s hard to imagine that you’re really going to invest what’s necessary to get a telemedicine division off the ground.
By answering these questions, you should be either confronted by reality or by opportunity. If it’s reality, then save yourself the headache and focus on building your brick-and-mortar business. If you instead see opportunity, reach out to us today for a free consultation and let us help guide you towards the next steps.