The Rise of Telehealth in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 24, 2020   |   By Darren Wilson

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed the widespread adoption of telehealth solutions that keep both patients and practitioners safe.

The popularity of telehealth (also known as telemedicine) has been on the rise for decades. From 2010 to 2017 alone, the proportion of hospitals that relied on telehealth systems to connect patients and practitioners jumped from 35% to 76%. However, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities’ interest in — and need for — telehealth solutions has soared to unprecedented levels virtually overnight.

As facilities ranging from hospitals and walk-in clinics to primary care practices and dental offices limit patient visits or, in some cases, temporarily cease in-person operations entirely, they are turning to the power of technology to safely provide critical health services from afar. But such rapid adoption of new systems, processes, and procedures poses a unique challenge for many organizations, one that requires a tactful, deft approach to navigate successfully.

Examining the Barriers to Telehealth Implementation

Despite telehealth’s growing pre-pandemic popularity, many healthcare organizations’ day-to-day operations still rely on legacy systems. As these organizations scramble to meet the needs of a newly remote patient population, they are turning to video support services to host virtual doctor/patient “visits.”

Identifying the right telehealth vendors on such a tight timeline is understandably overwhelming for many healthcare providers. They need technology that meets the regulatory requirements outlined by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and integrates seamlessly with their existing systems. Insufficient interoperability with electronic health records, payment/billing platforms, and so forth can lead to low patient satisfaction, reporting failures, and billing challenges that can take weeks or even months to rectify.

What’s more, the road to telehealth success isn’t clear once an organization identifies the best-fit platforms for its specific telehealth needs. Even top-of-the-line software and hardware are only effective if they are implemented and leveraged appropriately. This is where end-user training becomes essential. Doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, administrative staff, and even patients must all receive detailed guidance on application and platform operating procedures and best practices before they will be able to realize the full range of benefits of a telehealth solution.

Launching Telehealth Platforms That Keep Patients and Providers Safe

SEI has answered the call from healthcare organizations across the country that are seeking to drastically reduce — or even entirely eliminate — the need for physical office visits.

In each of our telehealth engagements — many of which are ongoing — we’ve immersed ourselves in our client’s organizational culture, engaging with stakeholders across revenue cycle, accounting, IT, primary care, neurology, pediatrics, oncology, and beyond.

Collaborating across departments allows us to identify which visit types and patient profiles are eligible for telehealth interactions and which are best suited for in-person or delayed visitations. Once we gain buy-in from key stakeholders and identify a client’s core business objectives, we leverage our vendor-agnostic approach to identify the right platforms for each set of circumstances. Every technology system is vetted for interoperability, regulatory compliance, and usability.

Working hand-in-hand with executives, we then craft and execute comprehensive rollout plans tailored to the organization’s unique stakeholder groups. Communication platforms are updated in real time to address all provider, staff, and patient questions and concerns while providing step-by-step instructions and eligibility requirements. We also conduct telehealth training and visitation pilots with a diverse group of department- and practice-specific stakeholders. These interactive sessions allow us to identify what’s working and what needs to be reassessed to ensure a smooth and successful telehealth rollout.

Navigating Uncertainty with a Partner You Can Trust

There’s no question about it: COVID-19 has rattled the public and private sectors alike. No organization has escaped its impact. As healthcare organizations strive to keep pace with climbing COVID-19 cases, they are also tasked with providing the country’s broader patient population with both routine and specialized care as safely and effectively as possible.

Leveraging decades’ worth of experience in healthcare, IT, and an array of other relevant industries, we work hand-in-hand with organizations to define and implement strategies designed to guide healthcare teams through this period of uncertainty with as minimal additional disruption as possible.

We are committed to providing each and every client with tailored, on-the-ground support, and we are personally invested in healthcare organizations’ success — not least because our localized model means our friends and families visit the very same facilities for which we provide solutions. Especially in these trying times, we are ready to work collaboratively with healthcare organizations to help them address their short-term needs while preparing them for long-term success that will endure far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about how SEI is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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