You’ve added telehealth services to your practice’s repertoire, and patients seem to be using it. Yet, what is your ROI? Are you getting your money’s worth on your investment?
Here’s a look at factors you should consider to measure ROI for your telehealth program. (For providers looking to implement a telehealth program, RingCentral is now offering RingCentral Office for free.)
What to consider when evaluating telehealth ROI
Evaluating telehealth ROI isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. What will deliver ROI to one healthcare organization might not really matter much to another.
Why is that the case? Telehealth program ROI can depend on:
- The size of the organization
- The nature of the organization
- The organization’s clinical capacity
- The organization’s payment model
Healthcare organizations should think about:
- Patient acuity mix
- New patient volume
- Patient retention level
- Hardware and software costs
- The potential for cost savings
- Program management requirements
- Staffing levels
There are also benefits for the patient, which many providers don’t take into account, such as:
- Greater access to care
- Greater convenience of care
- Greater patient satisfaction
Let’s not forget about the advantages for providers:
- Improving work-life balance
- Optimizing schedules
- Reducing commutes
- Addressing coverage gaps
How can your organization evaluate telehealth ROI?
With all of that in mind, how do you go about calculating the ROI on your telehealth program? You can assess the return you’re getting on your investment by looking at:
- What the goals of the telehealth program were
- How easy the telehealth program is to manage, and how many staff you need for it
- What the hardware and software costs are
- What kinds of tangible benefits the program brings
- What kinds of intangible benefits the program brings
What are the goals of your telehealth program?
The goals of your telehealth program are unique. As mentioned earlier, they’ll be based on the size and nature of your organization, its clinical capacity, and its payment model. Your goals will also be shaped by your patients—do you have many acute patients, and what does your new patient volume look like?
Here’s an example to illustrate. Suppose you run a primary care clinic located in a rural area, and you want to implement a telehealth program to reach your patients who aren’t able to come into the clinic (rural patients face high barriers to care: they typically have to take time off work and travel to a provider, which costs rural communities, on average, over $40,000 per year).
You would measure ROI by, among other things, looking at how many more patients your healthcare organization is able to engage via telehealth capabilities. If your original goal was to achieve a 15% boost in rural patients, and you actually reach a 35% increase, you’re seeing good ROI.
The management and staffing requirements of the telehealth program
It’s also crucial to look at your telehealth communication technology’s management and staffing requirements when calculating ROI. Management and staffing are two costs that affect what kind of return you’re getting.
Ask yourself this:
- How much time do you spend dealing with issues arising from the telehealth communications platform—how many times do you or your staff run into problems using it, how high is the learning curve, how often do you need to call tech support, etc.?
- How many employees do you need to staff the telehealth communications platform? Do you need dedicated staff for it? Do you need to hire more staff?
What are the hardware and software costs?
Another aspect to consider when you’re looking at telehealth communications technology ROI is the cost of the hardware and software. Those costs aren’t just about the sticker price, either —there are a number of factors you have to examine.
The base price of hardware and software actually only represents 20% of a solution’s total cost of ownership. Eighty percent of the solution’s costs come after purchase, which include:
- Tech support
- Other maintenance costs
What are the tangible benefits of the telehealth communications platform?
The tangible benefits of your telehealth communications platform might be linked to the goals you’ve identified for the program. They might also be completely unexpected, yet obvious measurable gains related to your telehealth program.
Going back to the example of the rural telehealth service, suppose that in addition to increasing your coverage by 35%, you also see a reduction in the cost of those appointments because it’s more cost-effective to hold telehealth visits. Another example would be that because you chose a telehealth communications platform that integrates messaging, video, and phone, you save time and money because you’re not constantly switching between disparate tools.
What are the intangible benefits of the telehealth communications platform?
The intangible benefits of a telehealth communications platform can’t be quantified, yet they matter for ROI. Your telehealth communications platform must also deliver value in addition to tangible benefits for it to be considered worthwhile.
Let’s take a look at the intangible benefit that delivers value by returning to the point about a comprehensive telehealth communications platform. If you’re a provider or staff using a single platform to message, video conference with, and speak to patients, you feel less stressed out when you only use one telehealth communications technology for appointments, as opposed to using three different systems for those functions. Lower stress means higher job satisfaction, less burnout, and a better patient experience.
Choose a telehealth communications platform with high ROI
By looking at the ROI of your telehealth communications platform, you can understand exactly what value and benefits you and your patients are getting out of this technology. Calculating ROI might even help you see new use cases for the telehealth communications technology that you might not have realized existed previously. RingCentral Office is an easy-to-use telehealth communications platform with solid ROI. See how cloud communications can transform your healthcare organization. Request a demo.
Originally published Nov 17, 2020, updated Mar 17, 2021