Digital health helps Cleveland Clinic caregivers touch more patient lives, providing convenient, high quality care to those in need. Since beginning to offer virtual visits in 2014, Cleveland Clinic has completed more than 100,000 outpatient visits. The trend is accelerating, with 41,000 of those visits completed in 2019 alone.
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This technology also makes healthcare more flexible, increasing the ability to provide care where and when patients need it. At the same time, it helps create efficiency that benefits caregivers.
Reaching more patients in more places
Telemedicine allows patients living in both rural and urban areas to access healthcare when they need it. Currently, about 59 million Americans reside in health professional-shortage areas, which are rural and urban areas with shortages of primary care providers. These patients often experience long delays when attempting to schedule a healthcare visit and may experience issues with continuity of care if they are unable to see the same care provider at every visit.
It also provides access to care to patients without reliable transportation or those who may be too sick to travel long distances. For some patients, such as those with cystic fibrosis who do not want to come to the hospital for fear of contracting multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a virtual office visit may be safer.
At the same time, telemedicine helps reduce healthcare costs. For example, it:
- Optimizes staff distribution and healthcare resources within a healthcare facility and across an entire system.
- Enables primary care providers to conduct appointments without additional office staff at any time, thereby extending office hours and availability.
- Reduces the financial impact of patient no-shows.
- Improves patient engagement and outcomes.
- Reduces unnecessary office and emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
The virtual rollout at Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute started the ball rolling by providing video-enabled “telestroke” consults to patients at some of the health system’s regional hospitals as well as outside hospitals. Since then, nearly every Cleveland Clinic specialty has begun offering virtual visits in some capacity, including: