In a crisis, finding the “right” solution is much less important than finding the “right now” solution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, clinical practices scrambled to quickly transition care out of the office, with some practices fully turning over to virtual strategies in the course of a single weekend — and they used whatever means available to do so.
Relaxed HIPAA restrictions and expanded CPT codes made it easier for practices to leverage the tools at hand to help with remote delivery of care — whether it was using the EMR to patch together messaging or collect vitals or Facetime and Zoom to get video visits off the ground — the boomerang went out to the market to capture a solution simply to plug the hole in the dike.
But now that the crisis has abated, leaders are turning their attention away from quick fixes to think about the long-term sustainability of pandemic solutions.
Physician buy-in is no longer the challenge that it was — the urgency for virtual solutions in the face of the pandemic leapt that barrier, and the success of remote care for managing patients through the crisis proved its value. COVID-19 has accelerated a massive behavioral change around digital health — providers are more willing to prescribe it, and patients even more receptive to using it.
In order not to lose these massive gains in digital adoption and changing mindsets, though, leaders need to think more holistically about digital health and virtual care. They need to consider and address questions of scale and ease of use. Makeshift solutions like drive-through blood pressure measurements worked in a pinch, but how do they function when the weather changes? When people can’t take off work?
Leaders know that efficiency and optimization is crucial to clawing back margin and to transition away from massive losses. So, in response to these changes, a few thoughts: