Most studies examining the benefits of telehealth over traditional office visits have focused on its expansion, its effect on access, and the satisfaction of both doctors and patients. However, the potential for telemedicine to greatly boost physician capacity by cutting down on nonvalue-adding activities and patient no-shows is an issue that has not received enough attention. In this study, researchers delved into this topic. They estimated visit durations and no-show rates for tele-visits using data from the electronic health records of 2 healthcare systems and information acquired from focus groups with family medicine physicians. This simulation model uses these to explore the feasibility of replacing in-person consultations with telehealth services to expand patient panels without compromising accessibility. They discovered that tele-visits cut down on doctors’ time on administrative tasks and patient no-shows. Assuming a modest reduction in visit durations and no-shows, the use of tele-visits may translate into more than a 10% increase in patient panel sizes at current tele-visit utilization levels and as much as a 30% increase if half of all visits could be effectively conducted virtually and resulted in a greater reduction in visit durations and no-shows. This study provides evidence that a key benefit of adopting telehealth for many regular interactions is a reduction in wasted physician time and a substantial increase in the number of patients that a primary care physician may care for without jeopardizing access to treatment.

 

Source: jabfm.org/content/early/2022/09/15/jabfm.2022.AP.210435