Looking beyond the pandemic, the push for more robust digital health solutions is continuing to intensify. To gain deeper insight into the innovative thinking emerging, Persistent partnered with HITLAB to convene the Virtualization of Care series – five roundtable discussion with some of the industry’s most notable thought leaders.
Long before COVID-19 became part of our daily lexicon, hospitals and health organizations were exploring the concept of digital health. Enabled by the latest technology, digital health solutions emerged as a platform enabling doctors to more effectively treat patients. At the outset, this simply meant being able to meet virtually with patients via teleconference. In parallel, billing policies were adjusted to allow reimbursement for virtual care. This change, likely to persist beyond the pandemic, is driving digital innovation and accelerating full adoption.
Leveraging Digital Health to Manage the Care Deficit and Address Revenue Challenges in the COVID Era
The first episode features Dr. Calum MacRae of Harvard Medical School, who points out that with the advent of COVID patients very quickly became comfortable with virtual care. However, he states, digital health can only be effective if doctors can readily access the right information about the patient at the right time.
- COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated acceptance and adoption of virtual care and the ability to harness data in real time is critical to make effective decisions about treatment and care.
- Going forward, digital health is expected to result in reduced costs, fewer emergency room visits, and better patient outcomes.
Extending the Digital Front Door from Patient Engagement to Care Delivery
In the second episode, David Kerwar of Mt. Sinai Health System explores the concept of the “Digital Front Door” (DFD) as a way for patients to quickly engage with health service providers. As he explains, it all starts with a user experience designed to meet the complex needs of both doctors and patients.
- The DFD strategy is built on the idea of using all available platforms and technology to engage patients at every major digital touchpoint.
- If implemented effectively, the strategy helps integrate people, processes, and workflow, leading to reduced barriers and challenges. This will lead to an optimal patient experience that’s a blend of in-person and virtual interactions.
Utilizing a Digital Front Door for Pediatric Care
The third installment explores the integration of digital health into the pediatric care environment. According to Dr. Krysti Vo of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, it’s crucial that doctors have immediate access to information such as allergy records, immunizations, and medical history – all of which require significant systems integration at the back end.
- In the pediatric care environment, DFD is an important component of data-driven decision making that is so essential for patients, caregivers, and family members.
- People expect a seamless online experience from healthcare companies and they are willing to pay a premium on convenience, ease of use, and accessibility.
- Children being more tech-savvy than parents, providing a digital experience ensures higher engagement and increased user satisfaction.
Oncology and Applying the Virtualization of Care
In the 4th episode, we look at how oncology departments are utilizing digital health technologies. As Sara Silacci of Massachusetts General Hospital observes, many organizations are looking at digital health technologies to offset the increased cost of cancer treatment. In addition, many cancer patients seek readmission due to anxiety – and digital health lets them virtually connect with a physician instead.
- COVID-19 has radically transformed oncology care treatment, including the massive adoption of virtual care. Virtually connecting with doctors can help alleviate cancer patient anxiety, which frequently compels them to return to the hospital.
- Digital platforms facilitate key tasks such as storing personal health records and deriving treatment insights from clinical data analytics.
The Rise of Virtual Care
In our final episode, Claus Jensen of Memorial Sloan Kettering explains that cancer treatment is distinctly challenging because there is an entire team of specialists supporting each patient. This puts a premium on the ability to view treatment data.
- The sophistication of virtual care is increasing rapidly to include capabilities such as continuous patient monitoring and customization for specialty care.
- Three quickly evolving dimensions of digital health are patient engagement and experience, telehealth and data analytics for better clinical outcomes, and automated tools for administrative tasks.
The pandemic has accelerated doctor and patient acceptance of virtual consultations.
It’s important to improve the functionality of digital health platforms to encompass at-home monitoring, ready access to a vast array of data, and automation of administrative tasks.
Many leading hospitals and health organizations are going “all in” on digital health, not only to increase the quality of care but also to help control spiraling costs.
There is a long way to go, but the key technological tools are in place to support the rapid advancement of virtual health.