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Telemedicine for a Post-COVID World

How to prevent falling off the pendulum of virtual care adoption

When I was younger, my parents took me to a lakeside bed and breakfast in Vermont. The lake had a rope swing, and being an adventurer, my mom decided to jump on and take it for a spin. As she reached the apex over the lake, she realized she no longer wanted to jump and began to swing back and forth like a pendulum until her strength inevitably failed her, causing her to fall and break her collar bone.

What’s this story have to do with the future of telehealth?

Well, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, health care systems and practices alike have “swung” between various levels of virtual care adoption. The pandemic caused a landmark shift in how health systems provide care to patients. Within a matter of months, care moved from almost exclusively in-person environments to completely virtual settings, opening patients, providers, and administrators’ eyes to telehealth.

350x242-1As I explained in a short Insights with eVisit video, two-thirds of patients want to continue to receive virtual care—citing waiting room times, commuting challenges, and lost work production—while half of providers aren’t comfortable with offering care in a hybrid environment.

Unfortunately, this has caused providers to fall off at various stages along the spectrum of in-person, virtual care, and hybrid care models. To contend with the reality that telehealth is here to stay, successful providers not only need to retain elements of telemedicine but must also capitalize on virtual care opportunities.

Providers can start by bolstering specialty-centric workflows. (For more on that, check out part 2 of my blog series next week.)

Quality providers know that clinical workflows are critical to success. The challenge, of course, is finding the right platform to ensure they are able to adapt and scale their virtual care offerings to retain patients within the system.

Some platforms offer great two-way video solutions, but don’t allow entire care teams—from medical assistants to schedulers to care coordinators to nurse navigators—to be part of the clinical workflow. This is an impediment to virtual care adoption moving forward because many platforms don’t enhance or accelerate workflows. Meanwhile, alternative platforms provide quality workflows, but are competitive to the health system as they pull patients out.

Solutions that were duct taped together during the pandemic won’t last in the post-COVID world. Moving forward, virtual care workflows must include entire care teams or face low provider adoption. Providers that utilize telehealth platforms with service-line specific workflows will minimize the use of their staff’s time and resources while providing patients with streamlined care, keeping them in-network and guaranteeing return on their telemedicine investment.

Stay tuned for more insights on how to best leverage telehealth for your organization in part 2 of this series.

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Need help determining which elements of a care delivery platform will best suit your long-term needs? Set up a consultation today.

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