Telehealth Is Here to Stay. Is Your Facility Ready?
How the Coronavirus Has Changed the Healthcare Industry for the Better
Demand for telehealth services is skyrocketing across the country as more providers and their patients look for ways to limit in-person care. Since the novel coronavirus is considered extremely contagious, patients are being asked to stay at home as much as possible when seeking non-urgent care. This prevents the spread of disease, so patients don’t have to worry about getting infected with the virus in the waiting room, in the doctor’s office, or even on public transportation.
Providers are also reducing their risk of exposure by remotely consulting with their patients. They can stay at home if they are recovering from illness without shutting down their practice. We have seen a major jump in the number of virtual office visits over the last few months. Learn what this means for your facility, so you can capitalize on these trends without getting left behind.
The Rise of Virtual Care
The coronavirus pandemic is hurting healthcare facilities across the country. Revenue is down as patients choose to forgo routine and preventive care, which is how many facilities make the bulk of their money. Surgeries and other in-person procedures have been rescheduled, but many of these appointments and check-ups can be switched to a virtual setting without sacrificing the quality of care. Patients can easily contact their primary care doctor or local urgent care clinic without setting foot inside a facility, thus reducing their chances of infection.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Informatics Association highlights the need for virtual care services during the pandemic. The study found that virtual urgent care visits at NYU Langone Health grew by 683%, and non-urgent virtual-care visits grew by 4,345% percent between March 2 and April 14, the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
State and local governments are also easing restrictions when it comes to telehealth reimbursement. Some providers have been hesitant to adopt this technology if it means seeing out-of-state patients or getting reimbursed at a lower rate than they would for in-person services.
However, more providers are adopting this technology during the pandemic thanks to recent policy changes. Medicaid and Medicare providers will now be reimbursed at the same rate for virtual care as they would for in-person consultations. Legislators are also looking for ways to expand access to broadband internet, so more patients can access these services.
Are These Trends Here to Stay?
Patients are quickly discovering the perks of virtual care. They don’t have to worry about putting their health at risk, long wait times, or arranging a ride to and from the doctor’s office. Telehealth also gives patients more freedom in terms of where they seek medical care. They are no longer limited by physical distances or a lack of transportation. This ensures that everyone with access to broadband can stay in touch with a healthcare provider during the pandemic.
As more providers adopt telehealth, we will likely see massive changes in our country’s health system. Once these providers adopt telehealth, they are unlikely to go back to the status quo.
Patients can easily make appointments online, refill prescriptions, and consult with experienced providers without leaving their homes. As the virus lingers in various communities, more patients will likely take advantage of these services in the months and years to come. We may see more patients accessing care closer to home rather than visiting their local emergency room. Patients may also be more selective in terms of where they go for medical care, thanks to the flexibility of telehealth.
Increase the Staying Power of Your Facility
If you are worried about the staying power of your facility, consider optimizing your telehealth program. Look for ways to update your existing technology, while keeping an eye out for the latest trends in telehealth. In addition to smart tablets, electronic health records, and predictive analytics, providers are using telehealth technology to collaborate with specialists in real-time, increasing the quality of care.
Create a patient-centric approach to care, so your patients can enjoy all the comforts of virtual care. They should be able to make an appointment online, update their personal information, and review their health records. Simplify the patient experience to stay competitive in our changing industry.
Make sure your telehealth programs are easy to use for both patients and the staff. Get rid of redundant processes and complicated interfaces that can delay care. This will help you increase efficiency, so you can see more patients in less time. Keep these tips in mind as these trends continue in the healthcare industry. Contact InTouch Health to learn more about the latest telemedicine devices and software.