Telehealth is here to stay. Over half of consumers say they plan to use telehealth post-pandemic. 95% of providers report the same, and payers are continuing to incentivize virtual care options.
To solve healthcare’s most pressing challenges though, we must move beyond merely replacing in-person doctor’s visits with video appointments. To be sure, video visits have an important role to play, removing geographic barriers and offering convenience to many patients—key drivers of adoption during the height of coronavirus lockdowns. However, when telehealth offerings begin and end at introducing a video platform, we miss opportunities to fix many of healthcare’s woes, including patient access, provider burnout, and dismal bottom-line results at the system level.
“You can’t just convert the in-person visit into a video visit and think that it’s going to be 10 times better, because now you have all of the intake and outreach processes that were built to do in-person and how do you take care of those?”
— Dr. Denise Gonzales, Medical Director at Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Telehealth is not a one-size-fits-all solution. As with any complex problem, solving the healthcare delivery crisis requires a holistic approach. The adoption of remote visits alone is not a silver bullet to a better care delivery experience for patients or providers. Instead, health systems need to evaluate digital tools that help them improve how care is delivered, in-person or virtually.
EHRs are central to the healthcare delivery problem.
The federal government began using EHRs (electronic health records) in the 1970s within the Department of Veteran Affairs. Today, more than 90% of health systems have adopted EHRs to replace chart notes, lab reports, and other information found in a patient’s paper-bound medical record. The replacement of these physical files was ultimately designed to improve the documentation process, but has instead led to a whole host of digital inefficiencies.
EHRs are great for billing, but they often don’t fit within clinical workflows and create a divide between providers—who now look at screens more than their patients—and those they are caring for. The inefficiencies left by EHRs have fallen on providers themselves, and this administrative work has become a leading cause of provider burnout.
Seamless communication among systems (a.k.a. interoperability) is key.
With digital tools that simply move the site of care online, this paperwork problem remains.
You can’t talk about improving care delivery without having interoperability at the center of the discussion.
Imagine this scenario.
A patient has a stubborn earache. They go online and navigate to their provider’s website. Once there, the patient is prompted to answer a few simple demographic questions. Then, they’re shown available care options to choose from, including asynchronous, live virtual, or in-person options.
Since it’s an earache, they choose to go through a brief, self-guided interview that collects information about their current symptoms and health history. This generates a chart note that automatically syncs with the organization’s EHR system, and the provider gets a ping that a new patient interview is ready for their review.
The provider reviews the chart note from the patient interview in a few minutes and assesses what’s best for them: they can either deliver online treatment for low-acuity conditions asynchronously or the clinician can recommend an appointment to see the patient live. Based on the chart note from this patient’s automated interview, they quickly diagnose an ear infection, add a note for the patient, and prescribe treatment.
Ten minutes after the patient sought care online, they get an after-visit summary from their provider and a prescription to treat their ear infection—all without leaving home or having to get on the phone.
For hundreds of low-acuity conditions like an ear infection, the entire intake, triage, and treatment process is complete.
For other conditions, the clinical interview is translated into a chart note that is automatically integrated in the EHR system, giving the physician valuable information about the patient, their condition, and health history before a live in-person or virtual visit.
With automated clinical workflows, up to 90% of the administrative burden on providers is alleviated while almost 50% of urgent care and emergency department visits can be redirected to the asynchronous treatment option. This leads to a better patient experience, lowers cost of care, and wins back invaluable time for providers so they can do what they love: practice at the top of their license.
What we’ve just described is exactly how the Bright.md platform works, and many of the largest and most innovative healthcare systems in North America including Prisma, Mercy, and Presbyterian Healthcare Services are already using it to increase their revenue streams.
Think of the Bright.md platform as the digital thread that ties your care delivery systems together.
The most effective digital tools go beyond telehealth by taking the entire care delivery process into consideration, from the moment a patient begins their search for a provider, to the moment they’re feeling better—through to managing follow-ups and health records.
Creating seamless patient experiences that drive loyalty is critical to success in 2021. Improving clinician experiences is just as important: in one recent survey, 94% of executives said this is a priority for their organization this year.
It’s time to evaluate your digital tools to ensure they’re improving how you deliver care, attracting and retaining patients, empowering providers to focus their time on delivering exceptional care, and boosting your bottom line. Learn more about how the Bright.md platform works.