The coronavirus pandemic hit hard, and in the U.S. we have seen some of the devastating consequences on our healthcare system. We have also seen a rapid pivot to technologies that can facilitate better care when a traditional in-person visit isn’t possible. Finally, we have seen the glaring challenges that a fragmented healthcare system and disparate technologies can create at a time when information sharing and interoperability is essential for public health and individual patient health. As we get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the next question for many clinicians and office managers is what the lasting changes will be in terms of clinic operations and patient care.
Telemedicine and Telehealth are Here to Stay
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 11 percent of visits were conducted using telemedicine platforms. By late May, two months after most places locked down as a result of coronavirus, that almost quadrupled to 46 percent, and has continued to increase. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved more than 80 new services to be done through telemedicine and telehealth platforms, and healthcare consultancy McKinsey estimates that as much as $250 billion in medical services may become virtual in the coming years. But after being forced to adopt the technology, both patients and providers say they like it. Among providers, 57% say they view it more favorably than they did pre-pandemic, and 64% feel more comfortable using telemedicine.
Clinics that Offer the Right Technology Will Attract New Patients
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, clinics and providers were dragging their feet on the technology side of things, but consumers were increasingly demanding more technology, transparency, and convenience. That’s likely to continue and accelerate in the coming months and years, and providers who embrace the right technology will be better positioned to attract new patients to their practice.
Surveys indicate patients are looking for:
- Online appointment scheduling
- Easier and more intuitive patient portals where they can access all their health information (lab results, appointments, medical history, visit notes) in a single place, and share it with other providers
- Telemedicine visits whenever appropriate to eliminate wasted time and hassles for things like driving to a clinic, parking, and sitting in a waiting room
- Patient-provider direct messaging to ask simple clinical or billing questions
- Online check-in to reduce paperwork and cut down on wait times for each visit
- Electronic billing notifications and online bill pay options
Cloud-Based Systems Will Lead the Way
On the operational side, the COVID-19 shutdowns highlighted a critical flaw in many clinic systems: server-based software that requires providers and staff to be in the office to access important patient data and provide care. In some states, clinics were mandated to close with no physical access, which severely limited some providers’ ability to continue providing care even if you had access to telemedicine services.
Cloud-based systems provide secure access to providers and staff from any web-based device. If your current system is server-based, it’s time to switch to a cloud-based practice management system, EHR, and medical billing system.
Enhance Your Clinic Technology
Talk to AdvancedMD today to learn about all our cloud-based software solutions for small and independent medical practices and learn how to get the right technology to set you up for success in the future.