Joshua G. Briscoe, MD
It’s been a year of upheaval most of us are anxious to forget; but despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, important lessons have emerged. Some of the changes to our ‘normal’ way of life were for the better and should be cultivated. The increased time at home with family and loved ones, cleanliness of public spaces including eating establishments, and the elevated respect for personal space are a few positive attributes of the ‘new normal.’
As a board-certified practicing physician, I’ve also seen first-hand how the rapid acceleration of virtual collaboration and communication in healthcare in the form of virtual health visits have transformed people’s lives for the better; for both providers and patients alike. We have learned that implementing a smart and sustainable virtual health platform allows for consistent delivery of high-quality, cost effective, and more efficient patient care – ultimately leading to more opportunities for healthier living.
In the past year, some health tech organizations have made great strides in virtual health workflows, virtual waiting room capabilities and the important ability to integrate these experiences with the electronic health record, all with the goal of driving higher quality outcomes. There is still much opportunity for virtual health and its full potential to be realized with solutions that take the virtual visit beyond a simple video call. Patients have come to expect the same convenient and flawless experience that they’re accustomed to in the consumer world. To deliver on this very appropriate expectation, providers and care teams need technology solutions that fit snuggly into clinicians’ natural workflow, while navigating patients’ continuum of care without attempting to change the natural process.
Historically clinicians have been asked to change their workflow to accommodate new technology, instead of receiving well-designed solutions created to enhance how they work. Those who create extensible solutions listen first and then design to accommodate. Sustainable technology based in a design-thinking approach enables a repeatable platform that can be leveraged across numerous use cases, increases satisfaction, and improves time to service. In certain scenarios it’s a matter of convenience and an efficient mode of patient care, in others it allows for treatment that otherwise would have been missed.
Sustainable virtual health strategies can drive the transformation of healthcare and how care is delivered going forward. Not only does it enhance patient and provider interactions, but it empowers clinical collaboration, allowing better access to specialists who can offer expert guidance. Clinicians are masters in their fields, but some diagnoses have treatments that are better applied in conjunction with a specialist or colleague with unique expertise. With virtual health, we include patients directly in these conversations, but also integrate caregivers or family members to contribute to shared decision making.
A year into this life changing pandemic, indeed much has been altered and much has been lost; but amidst this hardship, ingenuity and opportunity have also flourished. Let’s be sure to keep this momentum going and continue the transformation of healthcare for the better.