Telehealth is an effective and convenient alternative to many in-person medical needs. It allows patients to save time by avoiding traffic, waiting rooms and long wait-times to get an appointment. In a study that surveyed 764 patients who had experienced telehealth visits, 91.6% were satisfied with their visits and 91% said they had a sufficient amount of time with the provider — a true win-win.¹
Along with time, telehealth also lowers the cost for many patients, especially in the long run. One reason telehealth is a lower cost than traditional health care is because it can prevent patients from needing more expensive, traditional settings of care, such as urgent care visits or having to be admitted to the emergency room. In fact, telehealth can save a patient $19 to $121 per visit. Likewise, an avoided ER visit saves patients more than $1,500.²
An effective model of care that can help reduce avoidable trips to the ER includes the combination of telehealth and providing care coordination through remote health coaches. Health coaches don’t replace traditional physicians, however, the two work in tandem to be complimentary in the efforts of improving health outcomes for the patient. Many health centers have a workforce shortage and some physicians face burnout from day-to-day rigor of current health care requirements.
Union Health Center in New York City is one of many health centers that support patient care coordination with health coaches to improve patient health outcomes through flexible scheduling, standardized tracking and evidence-based communication approaches. These health coaches are members of a larger team that focus primarily on higher-risk patients. They embrace and rely on health coaching as part of the big picture of effective care for patients and keeping them from unnecessary trips to the hospital. They play a different role than physicians, but both roles are crucial to achieving the best overall outcome for patients.³
Health coaches can fill the gaps of what health centers need. Oftentimes, traditional physicians are so busy treating patients or charting that they can’t always find the crucial time needed in order to coach patients on how to improve behaviors and lifestyle habits. In effect, physicians can feel the burnout when trying to fulfill their own duties along with responsibilities that could be supported by additional members of their staff, or remote health coaches, such as educating patients regularly or just better understanding the patient’s daily routines and habits.
“Whereas doctors, conventional or integrative, are medical experts, health coaches are nonjudgmental partners exploring health priorities. Rather than focusing on causative factors for illness, health coaches begin with present circumstances and work forward toward optimal healing behavior and future-oriented growth.”⁴
Many times health centers are not aware of efficient and effective workflows that could be put in place to provide ongoing remote care coordination via telehealth. Patient visits to health centers can be brief and feel rushed, but health coaches are prepared to stay in communication with patients outside the four walls of the health center to get to know each patient. What works best for one patient might not work best for all of them and health coaches are trained to uncover the best practices for each unique patient. Certintell empowers health centers with a variety of care options such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) and supporting clinical workflows through remote health coaches to start or scale these services through telehealth.
¹ Powell, Rhea E., et al. “Patient and Health System Experience With Implementation of an Enterprise-Wide Telehealth Scheduled Video Visit Program: Mixed-Methods Study.” JMIR Medical Informatics, vol. 6, no. 1, Feb. 2018. PubMed Central, doi:10.2196/medinform.8479.
² Cheney, Christopher. “Cost Savings for Telemedicine Estimated at $19 To $120 Per Patient Visit.” Health Leaders, https://www.healthleadersmedia.com/welcome-ad?toURL=/clinical-care/cost-savings-telemedicine-estimated-19-120-patient-visit. Accessed 8 Apr. 2020.
³ Langley, Jessica. “Why Healthcare Needs Health Coaches.” Physicians Practice, 21 May 2019, https://www.physicianspractice.com/article/why-healthcare-needs-health-coaches.
⁴ Kreisberg, Joel, and Reggie Marra. “Board-Certified Health Coaches?What Integrative Physicians Need to Know.” Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, vol. 16, no. 6, Dec. 2017, pp. 22–24.