Now well into the COVID-19 pandemic, life is very different than it once was. Social distancing guidelines are anticipated to remain in effect for quite some time. As stay-at-home orders are lifted, vulnerable patient populations may still be cautious about going out—even for essential services such as grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments.
As a result, healthcare practices are looking for ways to provide care and support, while limiting virus exposure to protect vulnerable populations. These populations include the elderly, low-income patients, racial and ethnic minorities, and those with underlying health conditions.
Here are a few effective ways you can go beyond social distancing to protect your high-risk patients:
1. Leverage a virtual visit tool
The pandemic has introduced an opportunity for telehealth services to shine. As a result of COVID-19, an increasing number of healthcare providers are leveraging virtual visit solutions to offer telehealth services to their patients. According to a compilation of healthcare claim records, telehealth claims increased by 4,347 percent nationally from March 2019 to March 2020—and with a vaccine several months away from coming to fruition, that momentum isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.
By offering telehealth services, care providers are able to see individuals from vulnerable patient populations without increasing their COVID-19 exposure and putting them at greater risk. This is especially important for healthcare providers to keep in mind, as we look for a way forward amidst the global pandemic. The most seamless, straightforward way to deploy telehealth services is to invest in a solution designed to support virtual visits, such as InteliChart’s Patient eVisit.
Gary Hamilton, the InteliChart CEO, explained the importance of using a tool like Patient eVisit for telehealth services during this time: “We are fortunate to deliver this solution through our partnership with eVisit so we can do our part to help contain further viral spread while protecting both patient and provider safety.”
In the rush to manage patients remotely, many providers chose telehealth solutions that served only their short-term needs.
"Providers are now becoming frustrated with products not designed specifically for healthcare," added Hamilton. "Patient eVisit gives providers what they need long-term: smart, user-friendly workflows that address everything around the virtual patient visit: scheduling, intake, waiting room management, and discharge. And since Patient eVisit is part of InteliChart's Healthy Outcomes patient engagement platform, it works together with the platform's other solutions to successfully orchestrate a cohesive engagement strategy."
2. Create tailored resources for patients
An excellent way to empower patients amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is to create and provide tailored resources to each individual to help them manage their care at home. This offers an opportunity to educate patients—especially those who are part of vulnerable populations—on emerging topics digitally and encourage healthy behaviors between office visits.
Using a patient population tool can help healthcare practices streamline this process. With the right technology at your fingertips, you can deliver meaningful engagement based on a number of precise factors such as medications, diagnosis, lab results, vitals, visit information, or any other relevant component of a patient’s clinical record—minus the added stress that can come with inefficient care management.
3. Implement a text messaging program
These days, nearly everyone texts. According to the State of Texting, consumers send four times as many texts as emails on their personal cell phone each day. With this in mind, it’s not exactly surprising that texting has become an expected form of communication between businesses and consumers, with many relying on text messaging programs to reach consumers via the communication method they prefer most. Healthcare practices are no exception.
An Accenture survey on digital healthcare revealed that 70 percent of consumers choose medical providers who offer text message reminders for preventative or follow-up care. Consumers both want and expect the ability to communicate with providers via text messaging, and by delivering on that expectation, healthcare practices can improve patient engagement and retention.
Text messaging programs allow care providers to proactively reach out to patients for virtual check-ins on overall health, as well as adherence with medications, self-care, referrals, discharge instructions, and more.
4. Provide access to self-service tools
Patients want and expect the freedom to message providers, book appointments, review medical records and lab results, pay medical bills, and more—all within a secure digital platform. By providing access to a patient portal with self-service tools, you can empower patients to take action despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only can they access the tools they need when they need them, but they can also communicate with providers via secure, two-way messaging. This allows vulnerable patient populations to reach out to physicians and ask questions without the need to travel to and from the office, ultimately limiting exposure to COVID-19 and offering an easy way to communicate in the process.
Protecting Vulnerable Patient Populations with the Right Tools
With the right tools and processes in place, you can protect your most vulnerable patients amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. InteliChart’s Healthy Outcomes patient engagement solutions deliver exactly what healthcare consumers are looking for, allowing providers to engage with patients on their own terms before, during, and between office visits.
Request a demo to see for yourself how the Healthy Outcomes suite can help you increase patient engagement while still protecting vulnerable populations.