At the end of 2019, 25% of patients said they would switch to a new primary care provider if they offered virtual care options. By April 2020, that percentage had climbed to 40% and showed no signs of plateauing. By now, the healthcare system expects as many as one billion visits in 2020 will be conducted virtually.
Now is the time to lock in a virtual strategy and re-thinking in-house processes for the ones that serve as a revenue multiplier for all healthcare service providers by:
• Ensuring that everyone who needs it can easily access care virtually.
• Full integration for care automation into telehealth offers.
Patients are valuing convenience and ease-of-use over provider loyalty. During the first months of COVID-19, those who needed care but were afraid of exposure to the virus sought it wherever it was easiest, even totally disconnected from their usual care provider service. For the millions of Americans in this situation, there is little or no incentive to come back once they’ve experienced easy access. Healthcare systems should create a virtual front door access to prevent losing ambulatory patients to virtual options, otherwise they’re leaving money on the table.
A virtual front door should be a collection of digital access points that allow patients to navigate telehealth offerings, triage them to the appropriate level of care based on the severity of their condition, and deliver care efficiently in low-acuity conditions.
Access for everyone
25 million Americans who don’t have access to broadband internet can’t use video-based telehealth tools. Likewise, 26 million people living in the U.S. are not proficient in English. These populations are more likely to live in poverty, rural areas, often work service or construction jobs, therefore may be more at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Even if they are able to get online, hospital portals and video visit platforms are hard to access for people who primarily speak other languages.
For non-English-speaking populations navigating the health care system is challenging enough for in-person visits: Walking into a clinic, the person at the desk struggles to understand you or if your doctor doesn’t speak your language could lead to miscommunication about the dose of a medication, understanding your medical concerns or even insurance instructions.
The pandemic sets up additional roadblocks when doctors around the country suddenly changed how they practiced medicine switching to telemedicine — a fragmented umbrella term that includes everything from text messaging to an integrated video chat.
Hospital-run patient portals may still be more accessible than platforms run by private virtual care companies.
Hospital-run portals offer online visits through insurance plans or for a fee as most of private-owned platforms don’t seem to have been designed with non-English speakers in mind, since they have specific markets being targeted in their expansion plans.
There’s no overnight fix to untangle these challenges and open up existing systems to those communities specifically.
From your end as a healthcare provider you can incorporate: Interpreter integration, remote customer service guiding patients to set up their software, partnering with local public spaces to use their computers or Wi-Fi connection and other solutions depending on your town’s own accessibility challenges.
Telehealth to Generate Revenue
After the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, when most healthcare centers were overwhelmed with very sick patients, the term “clinical resilience” took on new meaning. For the busier systems, building resilience means taking care of the clinical workforce from whom so much has been asked. Giving them tools to deliver care efficiently and with confidence can go a long way toward preventing the kind of burnout that causes medical errors, staff turnover or worse.
For the healthcare centers that have been all but shuttered during lockdowns, virtual tools that automate the care-delivery process and aid in practice resilience by generating revenue for ambulatory care sooner. A virtual front door can also help systems keep the patients they already have rather than losing them to a mobile app or other systems that offer convenient ways to access care. That loyalty means today’s pink eye turns into tomorrow’s downstream revenue as people’s health concerns change or become more complex.
Health systems need to look beyond telehealth tools as merely a digital substitution and instead see them as avenues for digital transformation. If they can incorporate these tools, clinician workflows and administrative tasks can streamline care delivery no matter which venue it’s delivered in. Once care has been provided by the clinician, the patient’s EHR is updated and coding and billing files are prepared automatically, saving the clinician even more time. The automation can turn a 20-minute visit into a task that takes as little as two or three minutes.
That time savings means providers can deliver more episodes of revenue-generating care per shift, and they have more time to spend with patients who have more complex conditions, which also generates more revenue.
No matter which telehealth modality a system has deployed, a care automation tool complements existing care channels, making them all more efficient along the way.
At Smrtdo Medical Billing, we provide physicians with control of their medical billing through complete support in all phases of the revenue cycle – allowing you to focus on exceptional patient care.
Our commitment to quality medical billing services creates efficient reimbursements for each of our partners by guaranteeing results along with in-depth reporting resources.