As the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, federal, state and local authorities are implementing re-opening strategies that will allow many activities that have been on hold for three months to resume. Alongside those re-opening strategies, CMS is now encouraging providers to resume regular and non-emergency visits while continuing to manage COVID-19 cases.
That includes healthcare services that were postponed either by patients or their providers, as well as any new or previously scheduled appointments. Many organizations postponed non-emergency care in order to increase capacity for handling coronavirus patients, because of reduced capacity, or to limit exposure during the height of the pandemic. Patients, too, held off visits to their physicians to avoid risk. CDC says necessary care should not be put off any longer than it has and that patients should start scheduling appointments to address conditions.
While the potential resurgence in patient volume can provide revenue increases for providers that have been struggling, it will make it more important than ever to follow guidelines and leverage available connected health technology to treat all patients safely and to give patients the confidence it is safe to seek care.
As healthcare facilities expand their availability, there are several ways connected health can help ensure the continued safety of patients and staff, while also delivering the care patients need and allowing staff to work more efficiently.
Patient portals, mobile apps, or voice-enabled chatbots can make scheduling easier for patients and staff. Patients can schedule or adjust appointments at any time on their own, allowing staff to tend to other needs. Reminders can be automated and sent through whichever channels patients prefer to make sure they are not missed.
Waiting Room Procedures –
Email, chat, text messaging, and patient portals can all be used to communicate waiting room procedures and to let patients know what new measures have been implemented to reduce risk to patients and physicians. Increasing communication between patients and providers can help patients better understand how to handle current conditions, but it can also drive better relationships and keep patients more involved in their health and wellness.
Virtual Care –
CMS is still recommending virtual visits whenever possible to limit in-person engagements and to provide care for at-risk patients. Telehealth sessions help patients receive the care they need and can help reduce the on-site burden as providers try to manage COVID-19 patients alongside other patients who need in-person care, including a potential influx of previously postponed care.
Follow-up Care –
Even patients who need in-person initial consultations may be able to receive follow-up care through telehealth, minimizing the need to travel to providers’ offices, reducing risk, and maximizing physician efficiency.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present a dilemma for the healthcare community and patients. With most experts predicting a significant second wave, connected health can continue to play a major role in enabling providers to deliver quality care.
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