Replacing a conventional trip the doctor’s office with a telehealth visit saves patients—and the health system—time and money. Telehealth, in fact, has saved one big Michigan health system just over $4 million in three years.
Regence, a healthcare payer that serves more than 2.4 million members through Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield for select counties in Washington, yesterday released numbers claiming that consumers, on average, save $100 per visit when using telehealth rather than in-person office, urgent care or emergency room visits.
That figure is based on services provided through national telehealth vendors in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington and reflect cost savings associated with medical claims, mileage and wait times in traffic and in the waiting room.
“Technology has accelerated the adoption of telehealth as one of many convenient options people have to help contain their health care costs and seek care based on where, when and how they want it,” says Brodie Dychinco, Regence’s general manager of convenient care delivery.
When a Regence member with a commercial, non-Medicare policy uses telehealth instead of an emergency room, urgent care or doctor’s office visit, they save an average of $75 out-of-pocket on associated medical bills. This savings number may vary depending on the member’s specific policy and whether deductibles have been met.
New numbers from Spectrum Health, a 12-hospital system based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, revealed even more detailed costs savings from telehealth.
Spectrum Health has built and operated its own consumer telehealth program since 2014. In just about three years, Spectrum has conducted just under 50,000 (49,788) total digital doctor visits, including 30,775 telehealth visits for acute care and 19,033 for specialty visits.
Over three years, telehealth also has helped Spectrum avoid 11,253 patient trips to the emergency room and 269 hospital, or inpatient, transfers. Since launching telehealth in 2014, the total savings for healthcare insurers is about $4.1 million and saved patients driving 944,023 unnecessary miles.
So far in 2018, Spectrum’s MedNow telehealth program has saved healthcare payers $1.5 million in total savings and patients driving 476,279 miles.
In just the first four months of 2018, MedNow has conducted 26,421 telehealth visits—or 88% of the 29,989 telehealth episodes the health system must conduct for the full year.
Using claims data from Priority Health, Spectrum’s healthcare plan, the typical cost of a telehealth visit is $42, compared with $917 for a trip to the emergency room, $150 for an urgent care visit and $111 for an office visit.
If telehealth was not available, 1,859 Spectrum patients would have sought care in the emergency room, 1,816 in the doctor’s office, 521 patients would not have sought any care and 216 patients in the emergency room.
“The impact on telehealth is improved access to care and decreasing cost of care,” says MedNow director Joe Brennan.
To learn more on Spectrum’s digital healthcare, telehealth and patient satisfaction programs click here.
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