Healthcare as an industry has been in crisis mode since the beginning of the pandemic. Even beforehand, staffing was nearing an all-time low in hospitals across the country. Patient acuity demands focused attention, but staffing leaves nurses with as many as five or more patients to care for each shift.
Burnout has been an increasing problem, and then the pandemic hit. The pressure of the pandemic has led to many detrimental outcomes:
- Healthcare workers, from new RNs to veteran doctors, retiring or quitting under stress, some due to increased workload, and others due to the cancellation of elective procedures.
- Burnout affects thousands of workers, leading to reduced patient outcomes and less intensive care. While workers are doing their best, there are only so many hours in a day.
- Millions of people have found it increasingly difficult to contact their primary care physicians, whether due to fear of visiting a medical office, cancellation of appointments, or other factors.
While no problems as significant as the systemic issues faced by the healthcare industry have easy solutions, some new movements can help lighten the load.
Enter Virtual Care
Virtual care is the next healthcare innovation for patients. While it has been in development for years, the pandemic’s beginning saw the introduction of many telehealth systems, for everything from simple prescription refills to consultations with primary care physicians.
Telehealth is increasingly covered by insurance and Medicare, allowing patients access to a broader array of services.
Virtual care offers several benefits in addition to the services provided by any doctor’s office, hospital, or care system.
- A video call is more intimate than a traditional phone call and allows for more personalized care from a physician.
- Lower time, travel, and examination requirements cut costs on both sides of the coin; patients don’t need to take time off work or pay for transportation, while healthcare facilities reduce the consumption rate for in-office disposables.
- Direct observation can allow a physician to make a judgment that is impossible through a voice call and otherwise require an appointment. Additionally, telehealth enables triage to encourage those who need it to escalate from virtual care to urgent care as necessary.
- Often, patients with chronic illnesses must schedule appointments for simple processes and check-ups that wouldn’t otherwise require an in-person meeting. Virtual care is an ideal solution to save everyone involved time and hassle.
Additionally, physicians can configure virtual care to operate in many ways. They are not limited strictly to live, synchronous video calls between patient and provider. Asynchronous store-and-forward video can accumulate relevant information, including lab results, prescription information, and other critical information, to be delivered in one package to a physician to diagnose.
It also helps patients – particularly immunocompromised patients – to avoid crowded facilities and public transportation that could turn the seemingly simple act of visiting a doctor’s office into a dangerous journey.
New Technology Requires Leadership
Medical, technological, and cultural advancement leads to deeper investment in virtual care; that much is certain. The pandemic accelerated adoption, but trends were already leaning in that direction.
With hands-on experience and the examples of other systems that have implemented their telehealth processes to varying degrees of success, it all comes down to leadership.
A modern healthcare system needs leaders capable of adopting new technologies and techniques without negatively impacting patient care. Hiring new leaders who are familiar with (or open to) the investment in modern virtual care is essential in the coming years.
If your healthcare system requires new leadership with an awareness of virtual care, look no further than contacting HCRI for your staffing needs. From nurses and doctors to administration and leadership, talented and forward-thinking employees are ready to be found.