Why Telemedicine Alone Isn’t Enough: Digital Transformation for Private Practice

By Sas Ponnapalli, CEO of Beam Health Published on Jan. 27, 2022

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen private practices in neighborhoods all over the country fight to keep their heads above water. Gone are the days when it was enough just to be the friendly neighborhood clinic with the personal touch; private practices are competing against vertically integrated telemedical companies and venture capitalist backed hospital systems. While telemedicine is an effective tool, this technology is not a panacea and private practices need help with other, growing problems.

Patient Leakage

Patient leakage is proving to be a serious issue in the healthcare space. 10-20% of lost revenue reported by healthcare organizations is due to patient leakage and 23% of those organizations do not know the exact extent of the damage. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that 69% of practices have one person monitoring patient satisfaction, and that person has no available metric to track the number of patients lost at any given time. Many practices also lack a system for patients to leave feedback for their providers, forcing patients to voice their concerns on Yelp and Google.

Antiquated Billing Systems

Antiquated billing practices are also crippling healthcare providers. 77% of clinics are still using paper mail to invoice and are collecting just over 60% of copays, which is a compounding problem as more of a practice’s revenue is generated through copays, not reimbursements. These practices need to move towards an automated copay system that collects payment after visits. Beam Health, a digital operations platform for healthcare, has instituted such systems and have seen providers collect 98% of their copays.

Updated Digital Systems

Copay collection is one part of a larger issue: the need for clinics to integrate their systems into updated digital operations platforms. With staff already maxed out caring for patients and using outdated systems, there is limited time to install a variety of new technologies that could integrate their calendars, measure patient satisfaction, or even updating websites that look and feel like they were built 25 years ago. Digital systems in need of upgrades are ignored because time is a precious commodity, and patients who are seeking care are turning towards modernized healthcare systems that do not have the personal touch and charm of the neighborhood private practice.

Marketing for Private Practice

Additionally, let’s say that a clinic was to add all of these improvements- would it matter if the patient had no idea? Private practices are not marketing their value properly, and thus missing out on new patients while current patients may not be aware of any new services offered. Providers need to take advantage of leveraging their expertise through blogs or reaching out through social media which will allow them to strengthen their bond with the community.

At the end of the day, these practices are small businesses in need of support. They have great clinicians who are motivated to help patients but lack business expertise. 2020 and the COVID 19 pandemic proved to the world the value of telemedicine, offering those care at a time when it might have otherwise been impossible. What it proved is that telemedicine alone isn’t enough for private practices. These small businesses need help to compete against those vertically integrated telemedicine companies and VC-backed hospital systems.

The private practice is integral to the fabric of our society; people prefer the connection they have with their family doctor. If we continue down this path, the private practice would begin to be a thing of the past and the world would be a worse place. To stay competitive and thrive, private practices need to improve upon patient experience and business operations which means providing doctors with resources for customer service, analytics, and marketing.

To learn more about Beam Health, visit their websitehere.