COVID-19 has changed the way healthcare providers operate in just about every way. While much of the world has slowed down, innovations in HIT have been ramping up to help hospitals and clinicians combat the crisis and alleviate some of the burdens in their day-to-day workflows.
Telehealth platforms are one of the more popular technology trends arising from the pandemic. Close to half of doctors are now using telehealth to treat patients, up from 18% two years ago. Previously seen only as an emerging trend, while the world tries to follow social distancing guidelines, the use of these remote healthcare applications has transitioned into a new normal.
The impact of COVID is going to forever change the way patients access physicians and how healthcare, as an industry, is going to fundamentally operate. Once people get used to accessing care from home, continuing to do so once the crisis ends will be second nature. Just as the world shifted from traditional mail, to email, then ultimately instant messaging for distanced communication, the same can be said with healthcare. People won’t want to deal with driving to physicians’ offices and sitting in waiting rooms filling out paperwork when they can do all these things with much less effort from the convenience of their home.
The hospitals of the future have become the hospitals of today.
Telehealth was the trendsetter in transforming how patients input health data and complete pre-visitation documentation, but the next frontier for this change is going to be in the inpatient setting. These last couple of weeks we’ve heard stories about an influx of patients to EDs and testing sites. We’ve seen how front-line workers are struggling to triage patients in crammed Emergency waiting rooms, tents, or sometimes even outside. During a time when gathering comprehensive patient information, consents, and signatures will be more critical than ever, hospitals are going to start to turn towards more remote data capture methods.
The bottleneck for incoming data lies within registration. Patient admissions workflows are looking different than they did just a few months ago. In the age of COVID healthcare providers need to have a way to gather patient data safely and with minimal contact. The sharing of pens and paper for forms completion, the traditional registration process we’re all accustomed to, has become a liability. Balancing data gathering along with protecting both admissions staff and the privacy of health information has turned into a delicate dance. Hospitals need to leverage these emerging remote capture platforms that are available to enable their patients to fill out their registration documents remotely, on their own devices.
And while it’s hard to predict the future, especially in these uncertain times, the shift from in-person operations to remote operations has been swift and will only continue to boom. In the past, the healthcare industry has never been a pioneer for technological transformation but perhaps the one silver lining to this crisis is that it will serve as the catalyst for change. Welcome to the digital healthcare revolution.