Telehealth usage surged because of COVID-19. Now, our customers are shifting gears to use virtual health technology—and we’re here to help.

By Bobbi Weber, senior director of portfolio marketing, Medecision

In August 2019, AmWell announced the findings of its Telehealth Index: 2019 Consumer Survey. The survey revealed that 66% of Americans are willing to use telehealth, but only 8% had actually had a telehealth visit with a doctor. Although consumers have long been interested in the benefits of telehealth and virtual care delivery, adoption in the healthcare industry has been slow.

However, that all changed in March 2020, when the COVID-19 virus began to spread throughout the nation. COVID-19 required the healthcare industry to get a bit more creative. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) made policy provisions during the pandemic that allowed Medicare members to access telehealth from home; allowed telehealth using smartphones; and allowed clinicians to provide telehealth visits with no penalties. Telehealth usage has surged because of COVID-19, and Forrester Research predicts that there will be 1 billion telehealth visits in the United States by the end of 2020.

In early June, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said she “can’t imagine going back” to the old policies that prohibited telehealth, and she called for Congress to provide even more access. In addition, 2020 investments are gravitating toward telehealth. McKinsey estimates that investments in telehealth-delivered services will reach $250 billion per year.

At Medecision, we’ve seen that community health providers—health homes that work in the community with patients—have been early adopters of virtual health investments during COVID-19. For example, one of the health homes that we work with cares for children who are in the foster care system. These providers typically meet with children in person, but they can’t do so now. Virtual care technology allows interactions to continue to be face-to-face, even from a distance.

Our clients run the gamut, from health homes to providers to health plans, and most are demanding new, innovative ways to engage with their patients and members. At Medecision, we’re constantly looking at the different ways we can help care teams empower and engage their customers—and that includes through virtual health technology. Many of our customers are scrambling for ways to improve their patient experience—shifting from a series of point solutions put together to quickly address the pandemic to an integrated solution. They need help streamlining staff workflows and providing a more seamless patient experience. Which face-to-face visits can be replaced with videoconferencing visits, and where can digital intervention supplement and replace current manual efforts?

We’re launching Aerial Engage pilots with two of our customers to improve care coordination across the medical, behavioral and community ecosystem; increase staff productivity; drive high patient satisfaction and loyalty; support billing for eligible virtual visits; and provide timely feedback on omnichannel outreach effectiveness in a secure setting. We are partnering with our clients to think beyond simply a one-for-one replacement for an in-person visit to how a virtual solution can improve overall coordination, communication and collaboration between the patient and the care team.

Omnichannel digital tools provide a new modality of care, and COVID-19 has given the healthcare industry an opportunity to make a countermove and really invest in virtual care. At Medecision, we’re excited to help the organizations we partner with implement these solutions and engage with their customers.

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