The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted practices in significant ways. Many have experienced a reduction in the volume of in-patient visits, causing financial challenges.
Telehealth played a vital role during this time, enabling physicians to continue seeing patients for routine visits. In fact, according to a recent customer survey, only 18.7% of respondents said their practice offered telehealth prior to COVID compared to 93.8% that say their practice is offering telehealth now as a result of the pandemic.
In order to enable physicians to more easily “see” their patients remotely, Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act allowing physicians and other providers to bill Medicare fee-for-service for care delivered by telehealth during COVID. Similarly, the OCR issued a notice allowing providers to use non-HIPAA compliant telehealth solutions in order to care for patients. Health insurers have also loosened previous restrictions on telehealth.
Now that telehealth has been so widely adopted, questions have been raised about its future. Patients have made it clear they want to continue using it going forward, so for practices, it will no longer be a “nice to have.” It will be important to develop a plan for making telehealth a permanent part of your practice.
Meeting Practice & Patient Needs With Telehealth
With 41% of patients having already delayed access to healthcare services and 38% planning to postpone future treatment and services, patients are still hesitant to return to their regularly scheduled visits as they begin to adjust to a “new normal.” It’s clear that in-office visits won’t return to their pre-COVID volumes for quite some time.
In addition, our recent patient survey conducted by Harris Poll revealed that 42% of Americans have used telehealth since the pandemic began, and over 8 in 10 patients who have used telehealth services say they love/like it.
As both patients and physicians have become more accustomed to the convenience and safety of telehealth, virtual care is becoming a requirement for practices to maintain revenue not only during but post-COVID. But telehealth benefits reach beyond just seeing patients. Virtual care offers providers the ability to expand their practice and increase revenue while remaining efficient and meeting patient expectations.
How To Prepare Your Practice For Business Post-COVID
When working to rebuild post-COVID-19, our customers indicated their practices have three main priorities: running a profitable business; increasing patient satisfaction; and bettering patient outcomes. To do this, 56% of those respondents reported telehealth to be an important and prominent tool.
As more providers adopt telehealth and solution partners expand offerings to combine video chat, secure text, broadcast and other technologies to create a true virtual care environment, how can your practice prepare?
Developing a roadmap to leverage virtual care post-COVID-19 is a good place to start. By thinking through how to implement solutions like video chat, text, patient portal, mobile payments and other patient engagement options for the long-term, physicians can ultimately engage with more patients in less time and run a more profitable practice as a result. Developing a virtual health strategy now is imperative to long-term success and improved outcomes.
Telehealth and virtual care will truly transform healthcare with modern, impactful ways for doctors to maximize patient engagement, improve outcomes and enable more timely, efficient connections between patients and their physicians. Click here to download the Updox Telehealth Survey infographic and see what patients expect from their providers.