The COVID-19 pandemic is a huge turning point for healthcare. Practices have learned (the hard way) that conventional ways of running their businesses are inefficient and far from future-proof. It’s a call to action for adopting new and innovative ways to provide care.
Fortunately, modern technology has risen to the occasion, empowering healthcare organizations to provide quick access to care despite social distancing measures. Recent events have illuminated several key ways in which healthcare IT is helping practices evolve and survive.
1. Digitized Health Care Through EHR
Paperless health care operations have accelerated the patient experience. EHRs that offer diagnosis templates for the patient’s visit note allow clinicians to quickly identify those who need coronavirus-related care and then arrange the appropriate treatment. It’s especially helpful during patient surges when long wait times could congest waiting rooms and expose more patients to the virus. The transition towards digital records has also allowed the secure transfer of data across facilities, which is particularly useful now when care coordination is so crucial.
2. Virtual Access to Care
Even with community quarantine measures in place and patients told to stay at a distance, you can still find ways to increase patient engagement. EHR-integrated mobile applications enable providers to conveniently gather, monitor, and act on health data. Meanwhile, providers can allow patients to book appointments online, access their health information on their phone or tablet, and even request a virtual appointment with their doctor. These digital tools not only reduce wait times significantly, but they also make healthcare more convenient and cost-efficient.
3. Telehealth Services
Telehealth has been slow to catch on in the years since it appeared, but now it’s a requirement and scaling rapidly. One of the best alternative methods of health care when it comes to limiting exposure to the coronavirus, the federal government has increased coverage for Telehealth services and even encouraged practices to adopt it. Whether it’s for treatment of common illnesses or continuing care for chronic conditions, patients can see their doctors through a video call without ever leaving their homes.
4. Remote Staffing
Outsourcing in healthcare institutions isn’t anything new, but it also never had a full chance to shine until now. With patient surges putting unprecedented stress on hospital staff, doing the necessary administrative work could potentially delay care and make things worse. Having a remote staff for your front and back office can take care of the administrative burdens, allow frontline staff to focus on patients, and expedite the triaging process.
While the world is preoccupied with COVID-19, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the crisis. Phishing emails and other malicious programs related to the coronavirus have become an all too common occurrence, threatening to steal sensitive information. Investing in cloud storage and offsite data backup, as well as equipping essential network safeguards, is saving countless practices from the crippling effect of data theft.
In a future that’s arrived sooner than anyone expected, we are now witnessing technology reshape healthcare. As we do, one thing is abundantly clear: adopting new technology is our best chance at beating the coronavirus and being prepared for other potential crises down the road.