Do routine annual physicals still have a place in today’s healthcare industry? Would it be easier for both patients and providers if typical in-person visits could be handled with remote care? An article from USA Today posed that question this week, as the topic has become increasingly prevalent as providers look to cut costs and streamline treatments in our new outcomes-based economy.
To get to the heart of the issue, USA Today bulleted out the “pros” and “cons” of routine check-ups based on their conversations with doctors and patients.
For those familiar with the remote care space and the numerous telemedicine programs being used across the country, it immediately becomes apparent how many of the above items can be resolved through the use of remote communications. Undoubtedly, in-person visits are necessary for many patients. It is interesting to speculate on the number of routine screenings and check-ups that could be accomplished from the patient’s home without the hassle of scheduling and time spent in waiting rooms.
Building off of this line of thinking, it might be wise to ask: Does a 20-year-old need to have annual physicals, or are these better suited for a 68-year-old patient with various co-morbid systems?
Perhaps the most telling part of the article was this statement:
“Here’s something those on both sides agree upon: Relationships between doctors and patients are important and should be nurtured. Some doctors suggest that could be accomplished with less frequent visits or through other means — including increased digital communication.”
As an example of how remote care can do just this, look no further than Medicare’s Chronic Care Management (CCM) program. It can foster relationships, cut costs, and improve care. It can also reimburse doctors for providing 20-minute monthly remote care calls to patients with multiple chronic conditions.
Similar to an in-person check-up, the medical professional answers questions. They also provide medication instructions, and most importantly, nurture relationships with patients and ensure that any possible concerns are addressed. The best part? All of this is delivered via a concise, specific call tailored to the patient’s specific needs.
Licensure issues and state requirements continue to be barriers preventing the widespread use of remote care. This report clearly shows just how much potential this technology has for saving time and fostering meaningful relationships.
The next step will be for CMS to unveil programs that reimburse providers for these services across all patient demographics and regions, following CCM’s example of an improved care continuum that focuses on what matters the most: The Patient.