Life After Coronavirus: Next Steps for Health Systems

life after coronavirus

 

In 1918, as the flu pandemic stormed the global population, the medical landscape was forever changed. A disjointed system became more connected, and what was reserved for the privileged became more accessible. Again, we are in a comparable era as Covid-19 has clearly rattled the health system and experts predict that the healthcare industry will be forever altered. 

From workforce disparities to health care preparedness, medical facilities are having to rethink their methods once again. Yet, what we have now that we did not have in 1918 is digital technology. The digitization of health records, cloud storage, and cutting-edge treatments took over the medical industry before Coronavirus and will continue to do so. However, telemedicine specifically has proven to be an invaluable resource that is only expected to skyrocket during, and after, Covid-19.

Before Covid-19, telemedicine was predicted to grow from a $38.3 billion industry to $130.5 billion in 2025. However, it is projected by some healthcare leaders that Covid-19 has accelerated telemedicine adoption by a decade. Chris Jennings, a policy consultant and former healthcare adviser to the Obama and Clinton administrations, states, “There’s the assumption in primary care that you always had to have in-person contact, and that telemedicine would be unsatisfactory, or wouldn’t fill the void. That’s been exposed — actually, it’s safer, it’s quicker, and it’s easier.”

The value of telemedicine

The benefits of telemedicine are palpable, with or without COVID-19. The pandemic has just revealed to slow adopters that the technology is not only useful, but indispensable. In some cases, it has been the only option for patients that are avoiding visits because they do not want to leave their homes and risk exposure. Post-Covoronavirus, the same approach will be used for patients who cannot drive to a medical facility because of distance or lack of transportation. Regardless of proximity, some patients can still be treated at home with a telemedicine provider, depending on the issue. For example, a psychiatric patient, who would usually endure long wait times in a waiting room as a low-acuity case, would receive faster and more comprehensive care through a telemedicine option. 

Clearly, faster care provides a better outcome for the patient, but this benefit is also critical for medical facilities. Seeing patients quicker and increasing patient throughput allows hospitals to See More Patients™. Re-routing some low-acuity cases to telemedicine providers takes the pressure off of overworked medical staff and will enable them to focus on urgent cases. Overall, streamlining care and seeing more patients results in increased profits and additional revenue streams – a vital component in an already highly-competitive and volatile industry.

Furthermore, consumer satisfaction with telemedicine is relatively high. A J.D. Power study found that 46% of telehealth users ranked the service a 900 on a 1,000-point scale, beating out satisfaction scores for other healthcare services. This means that more and more patients are experiencing better outcomes and are accepting what telemedicine has to offer. They will eventually gravitate towards medical facilities that provide a telemedicine option. Practices that do not modernize their services with a telemedicine provider could very well be passed over for a facility that does offer this option. 

Telemedicine preparedness

This digital transformation is necessary for survival. So, how best can a hospital or practice prepare for telemedicine adoption and choose the right telemedicine provider? 

Every medical facility has its own unique patient care needs and operational processes, so it is imperative to find a telemedicine partner that understands your challenges and goals and will collaborate with you to customize your program. Having a customizable solution with user-friendly technology (for both patients and providers) is also vital. This technology is one aspect that makes the process easy for providers and helps patients feel comfortable. Still, equally important is working with a partner with qualified and trained physicians that have continuous training and support. Lastly, having dedicated project managers to guide your telemedicine implementation, and designated support staff to help you along the way makes a significant impact on your overall success with the program.

At VirtualMed Staff, we are a full-service telemedicine partner that offers a completely customizable solution, integrating with your existing systems, workflows, and technology. Healthcare leaders trust us to provide a customizable medical solution in hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities across the United States. Book a demo with us today to find out more.