Expanding Telehealth in a Post COVID-19 World through Workplace Education

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By Vivek Sharma, CEO of InStride

Like many market segments, the healthcare industry continues to quickly adapt to the next normal, as healthcare professionals and patients use telehealth at unprecedented levels. This year, the U.S. telehealth market expects to reach around $10 billion with an 80 percent year-over-year growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, how will healthcare providers prepare their workforce to meet the often-overwhelming demands telehealth presents today and in the future?   

To meet these growing demands, healthcare providers must now boost their workforce potential while continuing to deliver the unparalleled, compassionate care that is always expected. By providing effective training and education across the healthcare system, employees become equipped with skills to meet industry needs, deliver better care and improve an organization’s bottom line. 

Acquire in-demand telehealth skills now

Today’s sense of urgency to meet the demands of telehealth will continue to grow. Healthcare workers must acquire new technology skills and knowledge of regulatory mandates and how to conduct a virtual visit.

“It is not only that technology can enable patients to access healthcare through telehealth, but the experience must also enrich the provider-patient relationship, promote trust, and ultimately improve willingness to engage in prescribed treatments and follow-up,” says Dean Judith Karshmer of the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. 

To meet these new industry requirements, corporations and educational institutions need to collaborate and offer intensive upskilling programs compacted into 12 instructional weeks instead of the usual 12-18 months.  This timeline also aligns well with the professional development priorities of employees, as they find these shorter timeframes to complete training, certifications and other education programs more manageable.

The required skills for healthcare providers differ from just a few months ago. Unless the opportunities to acquire telehealth skills become available, meeting new industry demands will remain challenging. Also, as 61% of employees prioritize career growth over pay, it’s a smart move for companies to support and reinforce continuous learning.

Leverage quality online education

As COVID-19 ushered in a wave of monumental change, it also accelerated online education, which is at an all-time high. The technology infrastructure exists, and the cultural hurdle is being overcome as corporations, educators and employee-learners gain hands-on experience with the technology. The accessibility of quality online education remains key for the quickly-evolving telehealth industry. Healthcare organizations should look to partner with innovative institutions that already provide, at scale, the same quality instruction online as in the classroom. 

Action required now

The U.S. healthcare industry’s hesitance to change, along with regulatory and operational issues, created challenges to deliver the promise of telehealth for the past several years. However, COVID-19 ushered in a new era and accelerated adoption of telehealth is now happening in more places. ASU’s College of Health Solutions Speech and Hearing Clinic recently transitioned into a telepractice in just over a month, and the Mayo Clinic increased from approximately 400 to 35,000 virtual visits a week. Similarly, Phoenix Children’s Hospital developed a digital dashboard that converted 6,000 weekly appointments from in-person to telehealth. 

This is just the beginning.

“Preparing for online healthcare delivery is more than replicating a patient encounter through technology, it requires a new perspective and approach to assessment, listening to the patient, and tailoring a treatment plan that is relevant,” says Dean Karshmer.

Readying the healthcare industry for greater telehealth practices in the future requires a thoughtful, flexible approach to workplace education programs which improves an organization’s bottom line and benefits all.

About Vivek Sharma

Vivek Sharma has extensive experience building and growing profitable businesses through the application of digital technology. He has previously held executive-level positions at The Walt Disney Company, Yahoo! and McKinsey & Company with roles spanning general manager, eCommerce and product leader, Fortune 500 board director, data science professor and strategy consultant.

Vivek is now the CEO of InStride, a Strategic Enterprise Education™ company that enables employers to provide career-boosting degrees to their employees, through leading global universities across the U.S., Mexico, Europe and Australia. Vivek is also an adjunct professor of data science at the University of Southern California, where he teaches business innovation to graduate students at the Marshall School of Business, and authors a blog on business innovation. Vivek was recently appointed to the Board of Directors forJetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) and he is a member of the G100 Network, World 50 group, National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s center for education & workforce and serves on the board of ASU EdPlus.

Vivek graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and holds an MBA from INSEAD, France.

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