Over the past several months, the healthcare industry has seen a drop-off in telehealth appointments as patients returned to in-person care following the peak of pandemic shutdowns. According to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, telehealth usage fell nationally for three consecutive months ending in June, and telehealth claims dropped 12.5% nationally as a percentage of medical claims.
Despite this decline, virtual care companies are making huge investments in digital capabilities. In Q1 2021 alone, telehealth investment hit an all-time high of $4.2 billion in just 139 deals. Why are companies pouring money into technology as patients are seemingly stepping away?
These organizations understand that telehealth use will continue to fluctuate as the pandemic unfolds. The real question is, “What opportunity does this present?”
Using Telehealth to Promote Holistic Care Delivery
Health systems now have the chance to use telehealth as a means to support holistic care delivery. Considering every aspect – physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual – helps inform a complete understanding of a patient. This results in better health outcomes, improved access, and greater health equity.
Here are a few ways to better engage patients through telehealth and embrace this care delivery approach.
1. Meet Patients Where They Are
The benefits of telehealth go beyond convenience. The technology helps health systems deliver comprehensive care by removing barriers and addressing unique life circumstances.
Patients without access to a car or exhausted new parents struggling with sleep schedules can still get the care they need by logging on to telehealth platforms for appointments. An immunocompromised patient who is not comfortable stepping inside a busy physician’s office or someone with an inflexible work schedule can still keep their health on track, despite life circumstances.
Factors such as geography, travel times, patient safety, work requirements, and even health conditions (such as mobility or depression) play a role in whether or not a patient engages with a healthcare provider. Health systems need a deep understanding of who their patients are to offer the appropriate types of care. This includes the social determinants of health (SDOH), or non-medical influencers on health outcomes, that impact the degree to which a patient plays an active role in their healthcare journey.
By gaining insight into the outside factors that affect patients, healthcare organizations can optimize their use of telehealth to meet patients where they are, while building trusted relationships with patients, caregivers, and communities, and promoting ongoing engagement. Lirio supports these efforts via our behavior change AI platform, which leverages patient data – including SDOH data – and behavioral science to inform patient communications. The platform develops and deploys hyper-personalized messages that move patients to take healthy actions, such as scheduling a telehealth appointment, and stay engaged with their health.
2. Empower Patients on Their Journey
The push for autonomy in healthcare continues to grow in prevalence. Patients want the freedom to choose how and when they receive care. By providing both in-person and digital options, hospitals and health systems can meet this expectation. When patients receive care in the way they prefer, they feel understood and empowered. As a result, they are more likely to take proactive steps on their healthcare journey and realize positive health outcomes.
Case in point, Rochester Regional Health recently made an insightful discovery about how its patients wanted to engage with providers. Before the pandemic, telehealth use for its women’s health department hardly registered as a data point. But, when the organization expanded its telehealth offering just as the pandemic hit, patients gravitated to this option and appreciated having a choice in the way they received care. In a webinar discussion with Lirio, Rochester Regional Health shared that by August 2020 telehealth made up a surprising 10% of the department’s business, and no-show rates at federally-qualified health centers dropped from upwards of 25% to as low as 8-9% after the implementation of telehealth.
This clearly illustrates the value of empowering patients to choose healthcare delivery methods. When you provide in-person and digital options, the potential for patient engagement goes up.
At Lirio, we help you move patients to the most effective care options for their individual health journeys by identifying their cognitive biases and barriers to action and delivering behavioral interventions that overcome these barriers – all via optimized behavior change programs within your existing communication channels. We can then measure, track, and report on your patients’ journeys to better health.
3. Streamline the Patient Experience
Patients need a seamless digital health experience and easy access to up-to-date health information, communication and messaging systems, appointment scheduling options, and telehealth platforms. Avoid requiring patients to interact with multiple digital health interfaces or create multiple logins to receive health information.
A compartmentalized approach only creates frustration and discourages patients from engaging with your health system. If there are too many barriers to access and communication, they will give up and go somewhere else to receive care – or abandon their care journey altogether. Streamlining the experience keeps them engaged, encourages healthy behavior, and leads to better outcomes overall.
Lirio helps you deliver this streamlined experience by providing an intelligence layer between your systems of record and your systems of engagement, such as your patient portal or email delivery system. Our platform lets you maintain seamless integration between all backend and patient-facing systems so you can serve up tailored interventions to each patient. As a result, you can deliver the right care at the right time to the right patient.
Learn More from Lirio
Lirio works with healthcare organizations like yours to embrace the next phase of telehealth. We optimize the technology for holistic care delivery that leads to higher patient engagement and better outcomes.
Watch our webinar discussion to learn more about Lirio’s work with Rochester Regional to drive telehealth use during the pandemic. And, read our previous blog post about how to make patient-centered care sustainable following the digital health revolution brought on by COVID-19.
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