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Starting a telehealth program for revenue generation

In part two of a two-part series on leveraging untapped resources for telehealth revenue generation, we look at ways to help increase revenue and improve financial performance.

Physician practices are struggling to overcome growing costs and reimbursement reductions, but there's an opportunity to take advantage of the rising trend of telehealth services to generate more revenue while improving access to patient care.

Starting a telehealth program, which allows physicians to use resources already at their disposal in cost-efficient ways, is a possible solution for physician offices.

By utilizing existing resources, physicians can:1

  • Increase their annual revenue by an estimated 20%
  • Earn up to $45,000 in additional revenue from remote patient monitoring (RPM)

In a 2020 Kyruus research report, 50% of patients surveyed said they'd be willing to switch healthcare providers if offered regular virtual care.2 Furthermore, while 76% of consumers are reportedly interested in telemedicine, only 46% of providers are currently using it — making telehealth an enticing untapped opportunity for revenue generation.3

The value of starting a telehealth program

During the pandemic, many physician practices tried to meet patient demand for telehealth services in ways that didn't impact their costs and revenues.

While telehealth won't replace all in-person visits, market insights suggest it will continue to be valuable following the pandemic while creating multiple revenue opportunities:

  • Helps increase patient satisfaction. A June 2020 Kyruus research survey of 1,000 patients reported that participants were so satisfied with telehealth almost half said they would continue to use virtual care in the future even if their insurance does not cover it4
  • Alleviates the strain of physician shortages. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a shortage of 130,000 physicians by 2025. With telehealth, a single physician can see multiple patients in the same time period they would typically see one in person5
  • Improves access to health services for rural communities. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that over 60% of Americans live in mental health professional shortage areas, while 80% to over 90% of mental health specialists only provide services in metropolitan areas.6 Physicians can connect patients with specialists via telehealth platforms during an office visit, offering a convenient service for all involved

4 ways to increase revenue in primary care

Using a strategic approach to telehealth designed to help improve staff and patient satisfaction, workflow efficiency and financial performance may position your physician practice for success beyond the pandemic.

Here are a few ways to help improve financial performance:

1 | Keep and attract patients to gain a competitive edge

The Kyruus survey states that 50% of patients would be willing to change providers if they could continue to access telehealthcare,2 suggesting that having a virtual care manager may outweigh the benefits of in-person meetings.

Follow-ups can also benefit from telehealth by solving the historic challenge of "no-shows." According to the Healthcare Innovation Group, physicians lose an average of $200 per 60-minute unused slot.7

By managing follow-ups via telehealth platforms, physicians can:

  • Provide convenient virtual visits from physician offices to patient homes
  • Improve patient outcomes and retention
  • Increase revenue capture

2 | Leverage telehealth platforms as a triage service

Physician practices can use telehealth as a triage service by asking patients questions about their health to determine whether to treat them virtually, in-person or via specialist referral.

During a 15-minute telehealth consultation, your practice can:

  • Conduct quick follow-ups for non-urgent cases
  • Prescribe medication refills
  • Ask basic questions and make informed referrals

3 | Increase capacity to grow revenue

By using telehealth for shorter visits, the number of visits could increase revenue by at least 20%, while implementing a strategic RPM program could average about $1,300 in annual reimbursements per patient — potentially within your current patient roster.1

With fewer in-person patients, staff can spend less time managing the logistics of physical patient care, a good option for smaller practices with fewer resources.

4 | Expand your telehealth services

By expanding virtual telehealth services (including specialist care and remote monitoring) to patients, physicians may increase revenue and their patient population.

Physicians may expand services to include:

  • Specialty care services such as behavioral or nutritionist specialties
  • Care for rural patients with limited healthcare access
  • Reimbursable location-to-location services to connect in-office patients with virtual providers, collaborate on their care and be paid for these interactions
  • RPM patients with chronic diseases can access connected devices that transmit data to physicians. This service allows regular virtual monitoring and separate payer reimbursement for telehealth visits to patients at home

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Leveraging an untapped resource for revenue generation: Telehealth >

Telehealth for the long haul

With patient interest in telehealth at an all-time high, the time is right for physician practices to determine how to use existing resources more efficiently and capture new sources of revenue.

As physician practices examine varied ways in which starting a telehealth program can satisfy the patient healthcare experience, experts believe telehealth is here to stay.

Whether you're just getting started or already using telehealth primary care services to a certain degree, read part one and learn about barriers to telehealth adoption to access the full scope of potential benefits for your patients and physician practice.

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