Remember the days when mom or dad were taking you to the doctor’s office? Maybe a nurse gave you a piece of candy, or your parents took you to lunch after as a treat? Yeah, for kids today, that experience is a thing of the past.
As patients, whether it be for an annual physical or continuous management of ongoing conditions, all of our needs differ tremendously and can sometimes be completely unpredictable. The healthcare industry has always been there for us and has been so adaptable to those needs in the past.
This has not changed with the global COVID-19 pandemic; we rely on healthcare heroes now more than ever. In our current environment, chronic and at-risk patients need to be physically distant from facilities. Still, health and treatment can’t just stop, especially for those who need a higher level of care and time with physicians and specialists. To address this immediate challenge, healthcare providers have had to implement new, adaptable approaches and solutions to see patients and treat them from afar.
The Changing Healthcare Landscape
I’ve been fascinated to watch how healthcare has been so adaptable to change and utilize technology to help keep both the providers and patients safe, all while still ensuring we receive the care we need. Telemedicine has given us continuity in a time that it has mattered most, but that has not been without an entirely new set of challenges to overcome. But switching to a remote care model has just been the tip of the iceberg; everything about the way the healthcare industry needs to operate has changed in just a few short months. Some of these changes include:
New patient flow processes
To keep patients, themselves, and their entire communities safe, healthcare providers have needed to implement new workflows. Patients experiencing COVID-related symptoms need to be effectively triaged and treated to isolate them from other patients, clinicians, and staff members. Hospitals and other facilities have needed to completely revamp the way they operate to ensure that their new processes and workflows emphasize safety without affecting the quality of care or patient outcomes.
Different procedures for capturing information and consent
A patient cannot receive care without providing their caregiver with their health information and signing consent forms. In the age of COVID, where we are all hyperaware of the surfaces we touch, healthcare providers needed to quickly develop innovative ways to gather this data safely and effectively. Oftentimes they’ve implemented tools where patients can fill-out their health information remotely on their own devices and at their convenience before their set in-person or telehealth appointment.
Updated patient registration and access workflows
Passing pens and paper on a clipboard between patients and providers is a thing of the past. Upon registration, providers must address forms completion and pre-visitation data capture in a reimagined way, especially in an acute care environment. Many organizations have opted for contactless registration solutions that allow patients to complete all the necessary pre-visitation forms on their own devices and in a way that automatically pushes the data from those platforms into a provider’s EMR system.
Implementation of Virtual Waiting Rooms
To ensure their patients’ safety while waiting for care, many healthcare providers are turning to next-generation tools designed to complete digitized intake forms, provide education, and enable remote check-in capabilities for all telehealth and in-person visits. These solutions utilize chatbots to welcome patients, update multiple charts with pre-visitation data, and often send real-time texts to the patients when it is time for them to enter an on-premise care location before their remote visit.
While it’s hard to predict what the future will hold, especially in these uncertain times, one thing is for sure… the healthcare industry will continue to adapt and change as the world does.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way providers work and operate to make obtaining great care even safer than it has been before. Many of these strides forward are going to be here to stay, and I’m excited to see the new and exciting HIT innovations that are on the horizon.