Telemedicine post-COVID: How to implement key lessons from the pandemic to boost efficiency
| April 12, 2021
As you no doubt have learned as a healthcare administrator or professional throughout the COVID-19 crisis, telemedicine is hugely beneficial when it comes to quick triage and treatment of patients at a distance.
But that's not the only way you can incorporate this universal technology to help your hospital, clinics or office locations run better. New research is outlining fresh ways you can use telemedicine now and in the future to optimize how well your organization runs as a whole. Focus your approach on the following key areas:
Emergency room efficiency.
University of Texas at Dallas researchers looked at this key issue in their early 2021 study, "Does Telemedicine Reduce Emergency Room Congestion? Evidence from New York State." The team found that implementing a process in which a patient who presents in the ER, depending upon the specifics and severity of his/her condition, might be easily redirected to a telemedicine provider.
This can be done using on-site assistance to connect patients and off-site physicians throughout the telemedicine service within the same hospital, through linking with a different hospital, or even utilizing a doctor who is working from home. Once a patient and doctor are linked up via videoconferencing tools and health records are accessed, that patient can immediately move out of the ER and begin to receive care, therefore freeing up space and resources for sicker patients and eliminating overcrowding and long wait times.
Work with your technology teams and enlist key physicians within your organization to coordinate a program that fits your facility's needs.
Pediatric patient engagement.
A study from November 2020, "Show rates for asthma visits during COVID-19 increased thanks to telemedicine: Study shows amount of time spent on each patient also increased between 32 to 62 percent," found that parents of children with asthma were much less likely to cancel or miss a doctor's appointment for their kids during COVID when that appointment was virtual.
What's more is that over 90% of the patients in this study showed that their asthma was well-controlled, demonstrating that telemedicine visits can produce excellent compliance and care benefits. You can replicate this kind of success within any of your organization's specialties through a simple outreach campaign.
Let your patients and their parents/caregivers know how easy it is to ace medical milestones from the stress-free comfort of their own homes and that your doctors will gladly dedicate the time needed for both a virtual exam and address all questions and concerns they have clearly. Emphasize ease, and your patients will cooperate.
Increased patient volume.
NYU researchers reported in a study from last year that expanded video visits in ambulatory care settings allowed more than 7,000 patients to be seen within 10 days at NYU Langone Health in March 2020. This accounted for more than 70 percent of total ambulatory care volume during that period.
How can you make this kind of approach work well? Coordinate your teams for fast virtual consult capability; centralize your patient care info into one simple portal so they can gain easy access; and work with your insurers to adapt billing quickly. This, in turn, will increase profitability for your organization by accommodating more virtual visits per day.
The bottom line: mobilizing telemedicine more widely can vastly improve how well your organization runs. Most important of all, it can improve your patients' outcomes.
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