2020 has been quite the rollercoaster ride for the healthcare industry. The outbreak of a mysterious and sometimes deadly virus nationwide has left medical experts struggling to fight this pandemic while tending to their existing patients’ needs. The task has proven more than difficult as healthcare staff is overworked, and the doctor-patient relationships decline. As the year comes to a close and coronavirus cases surge, healthcare professionals must find efficient solutions to continue weathering the storm.
In-person visits remain the most popular method of treatment among patients. It provides a more intimate and hands-on approach to getting the care they need. Physical doctor’s appointments allow patients to interact with healthcare staff, primary care physicians, and specialists. It enables medical experts to see, touch, and examine patient problems accurately, conduct tests and lab work to determine a diagnosis, and communicate treatment options, lifestyle changes, and concerns with their patients face-to-face.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, has changed the landscape. Patients are afraid to visit a healthcare facility that treats individuals with the virus. Doctors are stretched thin from treating the influx of COVID-19 patients, leaving little time for individuals with other health concerns. Unfortunately, these outcomes resulted in patients neglecting their healthcare needs and medical experts desperate for a solution to ease fears and reconnect.
Many medical practices turned to telehealth as a means for treating their patients. It’s the practice of providing healthcare services through digital platforms. Well-designed websites made it easy for patients to schedule an appointment, view test results, access reports, and referrals for faster and safer care. Video conferencing software provided a secure platform for doctors to see, listen, diagnose, and treat patients from virtually anywhere. Products like Relatient Broadcast Messaging made it easy for doctors to communicate changes to patients instantly.
Telehealth has been instrumental in bridging the gap amid these trying times, but some kinks remain. Not all patients can benefit from telemedicine solutions as their health conditions or medical needs require more testing or a hands-on approach. Not to mention, there’s a broad demographic of patients lack the technological resources or comprehension to utilize telehealth platforms efficiently. Unfortunately, these are often the patients with the most severe health problems and the most significant chance of suffering greatly from the coronavirus.
While in-person visits and telehealth services have provided some resolve for medical practices and their patients, there are disadvantages to both that need to be addressed. For doctors or healthcare administrators that wish to accommodate employees and patients, a hybrid healthcare solution may prove effective. This method essentially combines the advantages of in-person appointments and telehealth services to give patients more efficient care options.
If a medical practice is designed in a way that caters to the “traditional” and “tech-savvy” patient, healthcare staff can continue meeting the needs of their patients. They can also save money, streamline processes, reduce workloads, compensate for shortages, and ease employee overload.
Developing a Plan
Offering hybrid healthcare solutions is all about accommodating in-person and telehealth patients. This means evaluating your existing strategies and solutions and finding areas of improvement.
For instance, patients who prefer or need to be seen in-person often fear coming to the office amid the pandemic. Develop health and safety practices that reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus in your healthcare facility, then communicate these changes to your patients on your website, social media, email accounts, and phone calls. The more they feel you’re investing in their wellbeing, the more likely they will continue seeing you for treatment.
For patients interested in telehealth, ensure that you have invested in the best technologies, from appointment setting software to video conferencing equipment. You might even take the time to upload tutorial videos, how-to guides, or basic steps for your patients to learn how to adapt to new technologies.
Every medical professional wants to be there for their patients. Yet, the global pandemic demands have placed an undue amount of stress on their shoulders, making it difficult to do their jobs. If you’re a doctor or healthcare administrator interested in finding solutions to bridge the gap and make your patients more comfortable, enhancing in-person visits and telehealth services to develop hybrid solutions can be just what your patients need during these uncertain times.