COVID-19 has changed the medical world. As the amount of cases continues to rise with more hospitalizations and deaths than ever before, the medical community is scrambling to keep up. How can we protect the health and welfare of our chronically ill patients without putting them at risk for the disease? What about the real possibility of putting ourselves at risk? And then we have to consider mental health patients, who depend on their counselors and group meetings to cope.
Luckily, technology has come to the rescue for many. With the use of telehealth, high tech wearables, and the many applications that patients can now download on their smartphones, we are not completely vulnerable. We just need to think outside-the-box, so to speak. We can provide patients the care that they need and deserve without putting ourselves at undue risk. It’s just going to look way different than the traditional ways we are used to.
This article takes a look at these “high tech” ways of keeping in touch with patients and monitoring their conditions without exposing them or ourselves to COVID-19 or any other highly infectious diseases for that matter.
Beverly Glass Buchman, senior vice president of marketing, TouchCare.
Numerous studies show that patient involvement in their own healthcare leads to reduced costs and better outcomes. It is especially beneficial for managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, and it will become even more vital as the industry continues to move from volume-based care to a value-based care system.
Still, in a recent CommonWealth Fund study, 86 percent of providers said patient engagement has been challenging, specifically when it comes to adopting healthy behaviors and being compliant with treatment protocols and standard care recommendations. The challenge lies in continuing the doctor-patient conversation between office visits. Many physicians struggle to stay connected with patients and follow up between office visits, while balancing their ever-demanding schedules and precious time off.
Mobile technology can help. It can serve as a key component for improving engagement simply by adapting to a patient’s lifestyle. Nearly every American owns a smartphone today and daily usage time continues to skyrocket.
Look at the numbers for American smartphone usage:
64 percent own a smartphone (PewResearch Center)
3 hours each day using their smartphones (ExactTarget)
People download three apps per month on average (comScore)
57 percent of smartphone owners use apps every single day (comScore)
Leveraging text messages, digital portals, and telemedicine video consults can engage your patients between appointments in a way that’s both convenient and familiar. For example, a remote video appointment allows a physician to check in between office visits to ensure medication adherence, discuss recent test results or receive patient feedback to help in shared decision making as treatment progresses. And it can be as easy as Skype or Facetime.
Scheduled virtual video consults can provide valuable data that will help tailor delivery of care to improve outcomes, all while saving money for both the provider and the patient.