The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted so many trades and businesses, but especially the healthcare industry. This crisis, however, has caused organizations to reevaluate their practices. Since the pandemic has revealed how costly and inefficient our processes are, it has led to the adoption of more patient-centric best practices, some of which we discuss here.
Implementing hybrid healthcare delivery
Clinics and departments have incorporated telemedicine into their patient encounter strategies. This is to allow them to respond better to their patients’ and the community’s needs. As the crisis has shown, hybrid delivery is effective especially for non-urgent or preventative care. Fully developing a post-COVID ramp-up process is valuable for all types of healthcare facilities; integrating in-person and virtual support can increase healthcare professionals’ productivity.
When there are hybrid delivery systems in place, providers can expand their resources and arrange their schedules to better fit in with patient needs. Furthermore, the coming cold and flu season will be different from the previous ones; patients might feel ambivalent toward making a trip to the hospital. An asynchronous telehealth visit and online triage system are worth exploring.
Facilities must reconsider the revenue cycle
Revenue cycle management has become very complicated for many organizations. From the initial appointment to medical refunds, the billing and collection for medical procedures have various points of intervention today. For this reason, many hospitals and hospital systems opt for outsourcing their RCM.
Since the pandemic has shown that the outsourcing model has unique vulnerabilities, it has presented an opportunity for facilities to change their RCM. Investing in autonomous coding together with a mixed pool of coders is a good start—it might cost just as much as completely outsourcing, but it provides fewer risks to the facility.
Revamping the clinical staffing model
Historical staffing models have proven to be inadequate in absorbing the impact of volume spikes and lulls brought by COVID-19 transmission. It is necessary for healthcare providers to increase their clinical capacity while keeping costs low, an already difficult task without a crisis.
With these things in mind, it falls on facilities to implement an agile staffing model that maximizes the skills of staffers. Departments should lean on Care Team Assistants or Medical Scribes, for ‘entry-level’ coverage to meet surges in volume. Relying on CTAs is more financially flexible and would not require the hospital to take on more high-cost labor than it can afford.
CTAs can also take over discharge compliance and transitional care management. Doctors usually give discharged patients follow-up instructions. Compliance with these greatly contributes to the healthy recuperation of an individual. When a person lacks follow through, they can end back in the hospital, something that CTAs can help avoid.
These staffers can also use technology to connect patients to follow-up appointments and guide them towards the community resources that would help them successfully complete their treatment. CTAs who have access to analytic tools can use the data they gather to provide additional resources if a patient is not showing improvements in their condition.
Finally, a prevalent condition observed among healthcare providers is the rise of burnout during the pandemic. With a team of CTAs, facilities can keep doctors and nurses from having to spend hours on non-clinical tasks that take up time they could be devoting to patient care and active intervention. CTAs can take up EMR documentation, after-visit summaries, papers detailing intra- and inter-department coordination, and other related items, leaving nurses and doctors to the more patient-centric tasks.
The healthcare industry has remained largely the same for several decades now. Recent advances in technology, coupled with the realities of globalization, have shown that hospitals and related facilities need to rethink how they deliver patient care.
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