We need to rethink how we deliver care.
The 2020 Covid pandemic pushed telehealth onto everyone’s radar, but the buzz has worn off. We’re largely back to the “old-fashioned” way of seeing patients, with most people coming into offices to be seen in person. Granted, telehealth and remote patient monitoring have entered the conversation, but the volume is so low that it hasn’t moved the needle.
Now, with the Omicron wave of Covid, a big portion of our providers and staff are quarantining at home, forcing them to care for fewer patients. The healthcare workforce is stretched thin, and burnout is devouring overburdened staff members. The unfortunate result is a lower quality of care.
Things need to change.
For starters, we need hybrid work models in healthcare that resemble models working in other industries. Providers and staff forced (or electing) to work from home should be able to lean on technology to provide the same opportunities they’d have in the office. This technology also lessens the workload for team members at the office who have seen double and triple the amount of tasks piling up due to staffing shortages.
These game-changing solutions can be implemented tomorrow.
Front-desk assignments that staff can do remotely:
- Check in patients for in-office visits: Using Qure4u DriveUp, patients mark themselves as “arrived,” allowing staff to simply review that all check-in tasks are completed and payment is collected. If there are missing tasks, DriveUp pushes the notification to the patient’s phone. When the patient has everything complete, a staff member only needs to click the “Invite In” button. It’s that simple.
- Convert a patient’s appointment to a telehealth call: This is incredibly useful for positive Covid screenings.
- Check in patients for telehealth appointments: It’s quick and easy to make sure all check-in tasks are completed and copays are collected.
- Convert appointments to telehealth calls: This has been huge for providers who are quarantining or working from home.
- Prep appointments for tomorrow: Push reminders to patients that still haven’t completed their pre-check-in tasks.
- Message with patients: Patients crave communication, especially when they have questions.
- Review online scheduled appointments: This is a great way to improve efficiency.
Added bonus: Smoothing the workload for the entire staff should be the goal. If each of the tasks above is handled by a remote staff member, then in-office staff can have more time to focus on improving patient care and collecting co-pays and payments.
What medical assistants can do remotely:
- Review and complete forms and procedures: This includes health history forms, medications and allergies, and screening questionnaires.
- Send messages: Contact patients and clarify if information is not clear.
- Include notes for providers: This is crucial if something needs their review.
Added bonus: When these tasks are completed by medical assistants working remotely, in-office MAs can turn their attention to collecting vitals and other patient-care responsibilities.
How providers can work remotely:
- Prioritize in-office versus telehealth calls: Patients who can be seen remotely are converted to telehealth calls, and all data needed for the encounter is collected ahead of time including screeners, HPI, and ROS.
- Monitor patients: Providers can review vitals from patients enrolled in a remote patient monitoring program, communicate via secure messaging, adjust medication when needed, and set up a telehealth call if it becomes necessary.
- Answer questions: Improve lines of communication and message with patients, other providers, and staff.
Added bonus: Having remote providers take care of all these tasks frees up in-office providers to see patients who require in-person care.
How you can help patients who can’t (or prefer not to) come in to the office:
- Schedule a telehealth call: Patients with an acute need are scheduled for a telehealth call. Short-term monitoring can be set up via care plans or home-monitoring devices that are shipped directly to the patient’s home with a click of a button.
- Harness the power of remote patient monitoring (RPM): Patients with chronic conditions are enrolled in RPM. With the click of a button, the RPM device is shipped to the patient’s home – and data starts flowing almost immediately. Providers can communicate with patients via messaging or telehealth. You’ll get reimbursed and help your patients at the same time. It’s a win-win.
- Convert post-procedural to RPM: Remote patient monitoring collects data points such as pain, temperature, and movement. Patients that report data out of range can even send in a photo of the wound or can be seen in a telehealth call.
- Send patients home faster from the hospital: Because the RPM device collects information and alerts staff and PCP to abnormalities and risky data, providers don’t need to have patients stay in hospitals longer because monitoring can be done remotely now.
How do you know if you’re acquiring the proper technology?
This checklist will help you find the vendor that aligns with your needs:
An all-in-one platform that includes:
- Patient arrival management/DriveUp
- Digital check-in covering all required tasks (it doesn’t help you if the patient only can do part of their tasks from home)
- Secure messaging
- Remote patient monitoring with alert functionality
- Device ordering and management system
- Post-procedural care management
The platform should be integrated into your EHR.
- You want data to automatically transfer into your EHR, and you want an integrated system that helps you get quick adoption from providers and staff.
Patient support provided by the vendor.
- Your vendor should handle all patient support so your staff and providers can focus on patient care and not be bothered with technology support.
Investing in a stronger future.
It’s worth repeating: We need to rethink how we deliver care. Our providers deserve it. Our teams are depending on it. And our patients are craving it.
The innovative technology exists, and sooner or later every healthcare practice and hospital will adopt these necessary tools. As we continue this transition into a new age of healthcare, the bold decision-makers and their patients will see the greatest return on their investments.