Over the last few months, the outbreak and spread of COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of how we live and maintain our daily routines. Our work schedules, education requirements and even weekly errands have all been affected by the new state-based guidelines and regulations. But what if you have needed medical treatment or have been attending doctor appointments that are deemed essential despite the COVID-19 chaos? Chances are, you have experienced a drastic shift in how and where you receive your care. The shift in patient experience that this novel virus has caused is unlike anything the healthcare industry has seen in some time. Patient care could see a big shift into prioritizing the virtual experience once the recovery process from COVID-19 is underway.
The Virtual Experience: Telehealth
One of the biggest changes during the outbreak of COVID-19 is the emphasis on utilizing telehealth services in order to respect the required social distancing and congregating regulations. Telehealth is defined as the delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care via telecommunications and digital communication technologies.
This technology has been available for some time, but whether or not it was covered by insurance was a little more up in the air than it is right now. Since the initial outbreak of the virus, many payers have come forward with information about what they will cover and for how long when it comes to seeking testing and treatment for COVID-19. Major insurance companies like Cigna and Humana announced that they would cover the high-cost associated with COVID-19 if one of their policyholders needed treatment. Aetna also announced that they will cover costs for hospital admissions that are related to the virus. As of right now, Aetna and Cigna are pledging to waive COVID-19 treatment costs through qualified medical bills that are incurred until June 1, 2020.
With more and more families utilizing this virtual service during the pandemic, the perks of receiving care in this manner has become increasingly popular. With an increased access to care, flexibility and the implementation of smart devices that can be synced to your medical records for your provider to review, sitting face to face with your provider may be a thing of the past for some. Those who are simply needing to refill a prescription(s) can also do so during a telehealth appointment. According to The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), telehealth has improved healthcare quality, particularly in rural areas. This is due to advancements in technology that can improve service delivery and treatment of certain conditions. Telehealth is also helping many avoid unnecessary visits to the emergency room and has shown to ultimately improve the convenience of receiving treatment by allowing patients to receive care without having to travel. By using telehealth services, physicians are able to continue to engage and connect to their patients and their patients can receive the care they need from the comfort of their own home.
But What About the Patient Experience?
Solving for the gaps that exist in a virtual environment will be critical to establishing and supporting a strong patient experience. The patient experience movement gained momentum when the industry made a move toward patient-centered care. In order to hold steady on progress being made by this movement, virtual environments must continue to focus on delivering high-quality care in a way that creates ongoing trusted relationships with their patients. This relationship building will lead to more positive health outcomes. Quantitative measurements will continue to include strong health outcomes, and qualitative outcomes will fall in line to help support high levels of trust, communication, consistency and compassion. Those providers that can offer a smooth administrative process and great connection to their patients will quickly outpace competition and set themselves apart.
At Signature Performance, we believe the healthcare industry in the United States deserves only the best, and that sentiment is what motivates our dedicated team to do our very best each and every day. It’s our calling to bend the curve of healthcare administration costs by improving the overall quality and experience. To learn more about Signature Performance, contact our team today or check out our career page for a list of our latest career opportunities.
Mark Mathia is the Chief Experience Officer at Signature Performance Inc., in Omaha, NE. Mathia is also a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. Signature Performance is an industry leader in reducing healthcare administration costs for private and public healthcare sectors. Our unmatched experience in serving both the payer and provider side of healthcare financial management allows us to implement innovative solutions for every administrative demand.