Building a Robust Virtual Care Toolbox to Engage Patients and Improve Outcomes

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By Donna Morrow

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent in healthcare when it comes to the pandemic, it’s inconsistency. Ever-changing guidelines and recommendations, shortages of equipment and PPE, and breaking virus and vaccine news coming from every direction have created an atmosphere of confusion, frustration, and exhaustion for both patients and care providers. Even as we begin to shift our gaze toward a post-pandemic world, challenges with vaccine distribution and administration have created a bumpy road for patients to navigate. 

The constant roadblocks that patients encounter as they seek care in a pandemic era have been somewhat assuaged by the accelerated widespread availability of telehealth and virtual visits. Thanks to the convenience and increased access to care that telehealth affords, patients now expect a higher-level of personalized treatment that is on their terms. So how do we implement lasting practices to deliver the quality of care that patients deserve and expect long after the unique disruptions caused by the pandemic subside?

Savvy healthcare organizations will view enhanced patient expectations as a catalyst to push beyond table-stakes telehealth visits toward offering a more robust toolbox of virtual care options that foster better patient engagement, accountability, and satisfaction. Such system-wide digital transformations are key to supporting short-term widespread health initiatives such as the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, as well as achieving broader, quality goals such as the Quadruple Aim and HEDIS Measures. A single, holistic virtual care platform allows healthcare organizations to enhance care delivery and improve patient engagement by directly tackling inconsistencies that frustrate both patients and providers. 

For patients, it’s all about better, personalized communication. Even pre-pandemic, a survey found that 58% of healthcare consumers said they prefer their healthcare interactions to be digital, and 61% said they would “visit their healthcare provider more often if the communication experience felt more personalized.” Challenges of the past year only amplified this frustration, as a survey from March 2020 revealed that 52% of respondents said they had not heard from their provider at all with guidance about COVID-19 as the pandemic began to take hold.

Organizations that want to achieve better communication must think beyond simple video visits and ensure all touchpoints — patient education materials, medication instructions, interactions with care circles and family members, mobile apps, etc., — incorporate personalization for each patient. Personalized, two-way communication empowers patients to feel actively engaged in and accountable for their own care, leading to better outcomes and higher satisfaction. Additionally, the patient side of the experience must include frictionless, easy-to-use tools that enhance, not hinder, their ability to interact with their provider or care team. 

For providers, it’s about delivering more meaningful, proactive, and personalized care without increasing workloads, duplicating processes, or placing additional burden on support staff. Meeting these goals requires harnessing multiple streams of data, including patient-generated data, across the care continuum in near real-time. 

Funneling patient data into a single virtual care platform gives the entire care team the same, complete view of a patient’s health to streamline care coordination and alert providers when patients veer of course of their care plans. Additionally, a single, connected platform can quickly identify high-risk, vulnerable populations that may need specialized messaging, care guidance, or proactive interventions to address problems before they lead to complications or hospitalizations. This is especially useful for managing remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs or expanding access to behavioral health services. 

Transforming the patient care journey through COVID-19 and beyond requires healthcare organizations to play a vital role to better engage patients and modernize the way they deliver care. Building a strong digital foundation now supports immediate initiatives such as COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, as well as ongoing population health and quality goals designed to reduce care costs. Forward-thinking organizations that invest in holistic, digital care platforms can drive clinical consistency and improve outcomes while delivering personalized, patient-focused experience. 

Donna Morrow is the VP of Clinical Operations and Client Success at Notewortha first-of-its-kind virtual care delivery platform

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