The pressure the COVID-19 pandemic has put on the healthcare system is undeniable. While many providers have been able to treat patients through a combination of in-person and telehealth visits, a great number have seen dramatic revenue drops during the pandemic.
In California, for instance, 98% of practices say they have seen a significant dip in patient volume of 68%. That loss of business has resulted in a 64% revenue loss on average. It’s caused providers to react in a number of ways, including reducing work hours, implementing pay cuts, cutting staff, or even closing their practices temporarily.
Under the circumstances, their top priorities at the moment include things that would help them remain operational, including financial support, PPE acquisition, temporary housing, and employment advice. But, also among their priorities are telehealth guidance and information about telehealth platforms and vendors. Even as states are starting to loosen restrictions, it’s unknown how quickly patients will be willing to get back into their regular routines, including visiting healthcare providers.
Given that, their desire to better understand telehealth suggests a desire to leverage new technologies to help engage more patients and rebuild some of their revenues. There are several ways telehealth can help.
Maximize Staff and Physician Potential –
While many patients still may not be ready for in-person visits – and providers may not be able to expand to fully accommodate them, anyway – tools like virtual visits can allow providers to see more patients, maximizing their time and even allowing providers increase work hours again.
High-risk Patients –
Elderly patients or those suffering from chronic conditions are in a higher risk category. Providing routine consultations and check-ins through telehealth can help keep their treatment plans on track and address any concerns they may have, without requiring them to travel from their homes.
Acute Care & Routine Follow-up –
Patients needing consults for acute care or follow-ups to previous visits may be able to be served through virtual visits. For instance, visual assessments of rashes, burns, or other injuries can help physicians prescribe next steps – which could include scheduling an office visit or prescribing medication and a connected health-based follow up.
Automated Intake and Information Exchange –
Chatbots, automated messaging, and other programmable communications can reduce workload for physicians, allowing them to better manage patient demand without compromising patient experiences. Automated and artificial intelligence-driven communications can help patients schedule visits (virtual or in-person), collect information and automatically append it to patient records, send reminders for visits and treatments, and schedule follow-up consultations.
Remote Patient Monitoring –
Chronic care patients and many others need to regularly visit physicians to have health statistics measured. Many of these can be done with remote patient monitoring solutions, eliminating the need for travel to facilities, reducing the burden on physicians, and allowing for more frequent measurements to help better understand changing conditions and medication effectiveness.
These and other opportunities to help physicians serve patients remotely can help practices increase their access to patients at a time of uncertainty. Even as states start loosening restrictions, questions remain about the state of the pandemic, a potential second wave, and how quickly people will actually be willing to return to some level of normal activity. Connected health technologies can help providers start to recover from the past months and provide them a foundation for building their connected services into the future as a normal part of their services.
To learn more about connected health and how to best implement solutions that can help increase providers’ ability to deliver quality care under any conditions, view more about our services.