At a time when the pandemic has severely limited patients' capacity to see their doctors, telehealth has aided in expanding access to care. Whether the full potential of telehealth is achieved once the crisis is over will be determined by the actions made by healthcare leaders today.
COVID-19 has resulted in a significant increase in the use of telehealth. Consumer usage has exploded, with 46 percent of US customers now using telehealth to replace missed healthcare appointments, up from 11 percent in 2019, according to a recent McKinsey survey. Providers have rapidly scaled their offerings and are now seeing 50 to 175 times as many patients via telehealth as they were previously.
Prior to COVID-19, the total yearly revenues of US telehealth vendors were expected to be $3 billion, with the major vendors focusing on the “virtual urgent care” category, which allows consumers to have on-demand instant telehealth appointments with physicians (most likely, with a physician they have no relationship with). Up to $250 billion of current US healthcare spend might be virtualized if consumer and provider use of telehealth accelerates, and telehealth is extended beyond virtual urgent care.
This change isn't unavoidable. It will necessitate new ways of working for a wide range of providers, significant advances in information interchange, and more technology access and integration. Improved convenience and access to care, improved patient outcomes, and a more efficient healthcare system are all possible results. Players in the healthcare industry should consider taking actions now to facilitate such a transformation and strengthen their position in the future.
So, how can healthcare providers prepare for this change?
- Accelerate the creation of a comprehensive, consumer-integrated "front door." Consider what the integrated product will initially cover in addition to what is already in place, as well as what may have been implemented in response to COVID-19 (for example, e-triage, scheduling, clinic visits, record access).
- Segment the patient populations (for example, those with a certain chronic disease) and specialties for which home-based diagnostics and equipment could be used to scale remote interactions.
- Improve the provider workforce's capabilities and incentives to enable virtual care (for example, workflow design, centralized scheduling, and continuous education). Benefit structures should be aligned with health system and/or medical practice economics to encourage adoption.
- To drive advocacy and contracting for continuous increased coverage, quantify the value of virtual care by evaluating clinical outcomes, access improvement, and patient/provider satisfaction. When contracting with payers for risk models to manage chronic patients, consider the potential value of telehealth.
- Consider options and justifications for expanding beyond telehealth/clinic visit substitution to new markets and demographics, as well as scaling other uses (for example, teleICU, post-acute care integration).
What tools and solutions are recommended to help healthcare organizations through this transformation?
ABBYY helps healthcare organizations solve this problem with its Process Intelligence solution, which can analyze multiple processes within your business and deliver a digital process model (a “digital twin”) of your business operations and processes. Process Intelligence extracts and reads the timestamps used to record specific events and processes using advanced algorithms. It then visually models these timestamps so that you can quickly spot deviations from the ideal process flow — allowing you to pinpoint the source of an issue that could be costing your company money. Every process, no matter how ad hoc or complex, can benefit from Process Intelligence. With this level of visibility into your operations, you'll be able to see exactly how your telehealth technology is working.
For healthcare organizations looking to automate their telehealth process, the use of digital employees in conjunction with ABBYY Content Intelligence technology handles the growing difficulty of processing content like papers, forms, photos, and email conversations swiftly and accurately. Finding specific information in a document, performing data entry, and routing the document for review and approval can all take a lot of time and effort. Content Intelligence equips the digital workforce with the cognitive abilities to comprehend and create meaning from enterprise content, transforming unstructured data into organized, actionable data, allowing your digital workers to be smarter, and your processes to function more smoothly.
ABBYY offers a comprehensive approach to improve patient experience and your performance on quality measures. To continue reading, access our Telehealth Solution Brief.