An important question when exploring the benefits of remote second opinions, other than your patients’ demand, is the potential for increasing your revenue. You need to be sure it’s worth your investment before committing, and we get that. In this post we will walk you through the costs associated with offering remote second opinions and the potential revenue to help you decide whether it is an investment that you want to make.
The incremental costs associated with offering remote second opinions are relatively minimal. The largest portion of your investment will be in technology to support your effort. If you choose a purpose-built comprehensive platform, the benefits will greatly outweigh the costs. Other costs to consider are training your staff and marketing your new offering.
The right technology will be able to support you in a way that will make the implementation of remote second opinions most efficient. A recent study by Deloitte Insights showed that in the UK, utilizing the appropriate telehealth technology led to 60% less time spent on paperwork and allowed practices to see two additional in-person patients per day. These figures do not account for the number of remote consultations that you could add to your practice, so the benefit can be even greater.
Depending upon the size of your practice, remote second opinion software cost is around $2,500 per physician, varying a bit based upon the specialty of your practice. As an example, a practice with 5 physicians would pay roughly $12,500 per year. As we’ll show, that cost can quickly be recouped by adding just a couple of new patients.
While the technology can do a lot to support you through this process, it is not complete without proper training. You will need to set aside time for anyone who will be utilizing the software to be trained on it in order to use it to its fullest potential. On average each physician we work with may need up to two hours of initial training in order to feel comfortable using the system. Consider the number of physicians that will use the software and their salaries to get an exact number specific to your practice. We will average the opportunity cost of training at $200/hr per physician. If you have a practice of 5 physicians, consider a total cost of $2,000.
Another factor that will make your remote second opinion service more successful is utilizing marketing to its fullest extent. Your patients and potential patients will need to know about the new service you’re offering in order for you to generate the most revenue possible. This will likely require some edits to your website as well as some effort to ensure that your referring sources are aware of this new service. If we estimate a web developer charges $75 per hour for at most two hours worth of work to add a page to your website and make sure it’s accessible for your patients this would add about $150 to the total cost.
Total cost estimated for a subspecialist practice with 5 physicians: $14,650
Although the number is heavily dependent on your subspecialty, we estimate the average cost of a remote second opinion is $1,000. If we take our example of a practice that has 5 physicians, and each physician does just one new remote consult a month at $1,000 per consultation, that alone would generate an incremental $60,000 per year. As you can see, we’ve already recouped our initial investment by 4 times, but there are other benefits to consider that may make this decision even easier.
It is inevitable that when you provide your expert opinion via remote diagnosis/consultation you will increase exposure and ultimately receive more procedures as a result. Patients that seek your expert opinion understand that you are qualified and knowledgeable so if the result of the remote second opinion suggests a procedure, the patient will be more willing to travel to receive care from your practice. If 10 percent of your remote consultations result in a procedure, this could add 6 procedures that you would not have had previously. Estimating these procedures, depending on type of procedure and type of subspecialty, are valued at $2,000 per procedure, that is an additional $12,000 per year.
It is reasonable to assume that these patients that seek your expertise for their second opinion and ultimately their procedure have the potential to become regular patients. If we take the figure presented of new procedures, we could estimate that 50 percent (~ 3) of those that came to your practice for their procedure become a regular patient who has the potential to visit your practice just 1 time per year. These routine appointments could generate an additional $200 per appointment per patient resulting in an additional $600 of incremental revenue.
The estimated additional revenue of a practice with 5 physicians: $72,600
Based on our estimations and depending heavily on your specific subspecialty, we found that the estimated cost to begin offering remote second opinions for a 5 physician practice is roughly $14,650 and the revenue potential is around $72,600 (5 times greater than the investment). The fact of the matter is, the revenue generated greatly outweighs the cost of setting up your remote second opinion service, even if there are some costs specific to your practice that have not been mentioned here. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today!