CFO Considerations for Telehealth Expansions

Clearstep Media
Clearstep Team

The COVID-19 pandemic forced telehealth front and center in the healthcare industry. As a result, some hospitals report over 300% growth in telehealth visits. Even 10,000% growth is not unheard of.

But the newness of telehealth and the disruption it causes on the financial side can be jarring. As a CFO, you need to be able to plan for improvements and expansions to your telehealth system to keep up. In this article, we’ll look at what you need to consider as a CFO for your telehealth expansion.

Related: Emerging Technology in Health Care: 10 Innovations that Are Changing the Industry

What is a Telehealth Expansion? 

Telehealth takes a wide range of work and effort to operate effectively. It requires a digital infrastructure capable of accommodating an increase in digital traffic and engagement. Plus, it requires effective training to ensure employees can properly work within the system. 

These are barriers that prevent some healthcare facilities from expanding the telehealth services they offer. A telehealth expansion is designed to overcome these barriers. 

A telehealth expansion ensures that a facility is prepared for an increase in telehealth services. It addresses the digital needs of this transition, what is expected of employees, and anything else that is necessary. Together, these factors allow the facility to offer more.

CFO Considerations

While a telehealth expansion is positive for an entire healthcare facility, a CFO is particularly interested. This is because the proper implementation of telehealth services greatly impacts the company’s finances. There are many ways in which telehealth transforms and improves the way a healthcare organization does business. 

Integration with EHR

Telehealth is especially helpful for follow-up appointments as patients can receive care without having to drive all the way to a hospital or other office. However, compatibility and integration with patients’ electronic health records (EHR) are critical to the seamless integration of care when using telehealth.

Staff needs to be able to see what steps have been taken, other medical concerns or conditions, and other critical health information. To do this, you need to choose a telehealth system that works well with your EHR. Luckily, Clearstep seamlessly integrates with major EHR providers to make logging virtual triage, patient services and remote patient monitoring interactions easy.

Facilities for Long-Term Care and Lower Readmission Rates

Patients in long-term care facilities tend to make more frequent trips to clinical providers. However, it also takes staff much longer to get these patients ready to be transported. In the past, reimbursement didn’t happen unless the patient was seen in an in-person visit in a clinic.

Luckily, as telehealth models have been implemented in nursing homes, preparation and transport time have been greatly reduced. In many cases, telehealth makes it possible to complete a visit without extensive preparation, wait, or transport time since the patient can simply conduct their visit over the phone or online. In turn, readmission rates have also decreased as providers can see patients easier and quicker.

Related: Cost-Cutting Strategies for Hospital and Health System Operations

Financial Issues

Providers are paid based on production. Hospitals are still paying doctors the same amount. However, telehealth visits only result in a third of the revenue as an in-person visit. In addition, doctors can work from home instead of in the clinical setting. CFOs need to figure out how to balance provider pay with a possible decrease in income.

Want to streamline your telehealth expansion? Learn Why Clearstep is the partner you need!

Relaxed Requirements for Reimbursement

Before the pandemic, it was difficult to conduct many virtual visits because reimbursement regulations stated that in-person visits needed to be made. However, insurance and related organizations have relaxed this rule to ease access to care. While some worry these stricter regulations may return, the benefits to patients and providers are such that many are hopeful they will not.

With a positive outlook, providers can assess all areas of patient care to see what can be offered through telehealth. This means organizations may be able to expand access to services that previously were not available through virtual visits.

Revenue Improvements and Flow

One of the biggest factors preventing patients from seeking care is the difficulty of doing so. Many find booking an appointment and then driving out to that appointment too inconvenient. 

Telehealth allows patients to seek care more easily as it allows them to do so instantly and from the comfort of their homes. Patients tend to seek care more often when it is easier to seek care. This directly leads to providers staying busier and having a more steady flow of revenue. 

As we move forward with the increased implementation of telehealth services, CFOs have the opportunity to look for improvements in revenue cycle management. 

Recovery of Revenue

As healthcare needs change, your organization needs to find new ways to generate consistent revenue. This is particularly important as expenditures related to COVID have been a constant.

Your hospital might look at last year’s cost report and apply a volume decrease adjustment to do this. And in some instances, hospitals are seeking status as rural hospitals.

Telehealth services are a way to provide additional services and recover additional revenue. This is especially true when you consider state and government funding and grants available for telehealth.

Related: Healthcare Price Transparency: What Will it Impact?

Expansion of Services

Expanding telehealth services allows a healthcare facility to take advantage of everything telehealth provides. This means more of all of the revenue-increasing possibilities listed above. A company looking to expand should consider expanding telehealth in addition to traditional expansion methods. 

Telehealth expansion even allows the company to cast a wider net. It helps reduce the impact that distance has. So, patients from further away will consider your facility as an option. 

It also allows for a general improvement in the image of a company. Patients like telehealth as an option; because of this, they also prefer companies that offer telehealth. Existing patients develop an even more favorable impression of the company. As this image improves, it may even lead to an influx of new patients.

If You’re a CFO, We Invite You to Consider Clearstep

Clearstep is focused on leveraging clinical AI technologies to improve the business of your healthcare facility. We have skills, expertise, and programs you won’t find anywhere else. Our AI chatbot, virtual triage, and remote monitoring can provide you with a full suite of digital front door technology. Our Smart Care Routing™ will make the process of implementing or improving your telehealth program much more streamlined. With these, we can expand your telehealth program, improve your patient care, and empower your organization to succeed financially.

Improve patient access and experience with our Smart Care Routing. Get in touch with us to see how Clearstep can help your organization.

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