The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way outpatient care is delivered to patients. What has not changed is the importance of preventative care and seeing a doctor when symptoms arise.
Primary care physicians saw a drop of about 49% in patient volume according to a study performed by researchers at Harvard University along with Phreesia, a healthcare technology company. According to the CDC, ER visits declined 42% during the Covid-19 pandemic. Doctors warn that delaying care for possible serious health problems, such as heart attack, stroke, and appendicitis, is more dangerous than infection with the new coronavirus.
People are concerned and the healthcare industry is evolving to meet those needs, taking measures to ease fears and make visits safe for everyone. While no one welcomes a pandemic, it can drive innovation for new ideas. Some of these new practice measures may be around for the foreseeable future.
One of those measures is screening patients, which is being done prior to visits as well as the day of the appointment. Being able to prescreen patients over the phone or through the patient portal can catch possible risk factors and will guide them on the appropriate care path. Physician offices are screening patients on the day of with temperature checks and a few quick questions. A well-designed screening process can decrease community spread of Covid-19.
Patient portals are a secure online website that gives patients 24/7 access to their personal health information and are gaining importance. Basic portals have been around for a while; however, consumers weren’t typically in a rush to register a portal account. This has changed dramatically in 2020. Having access to the portal allows patients to schedule appointments, update information prior to visits, check-in for appointments, as well as make payments. The self-check-in feature enables patients to be socially distanced and avoid crowded waiting rooms, sometimes remaining in their car until it is time to be seen by the physician.
Another noticeable change is cleaner doctor’s offices that are emerging since reopening. While cleanliness has always been important in the medical field, it can now make or break a patient’s experience and a possible reference to a practice. Patients are more in tune with what is being done to prevent the spread of viruses. The frequency of cleaning and sanitizing has definitely increased as well as the removal of highly touched objects, such as magazines or coffee stations.
Lastly, the most noticeable change is the use of telehealth. Telehealth has seen exponential growth since the beginning of the pandemic. It allows patients to be seen for routine visits from the comfort of their own home. It can also be cost-efficient by cutting practice overhead and is often less time consuming for patients and physicians. With it’s rising popularity and convenience, telemedicine may be here to stay.
While we navigate these new implementations, the goal is always the safety of the patients and healthcare workers. There will inevitably be frustrations along the way, but also great ideas and new technology that emerge and will be helpful going forward. If we have learned one thing through all of this, it’s to have a little patience and show a little kindness where we can.
Reliance Medical Billing Solutions is ready to help you navigate these unprecedented times. Whether your medical needs require access to talent to address a temporary staffing dilemma, a desire to reduce the administrative burden, or assistance with telehealth implementation and billing, we can help. Visit our website at www.reliancembs.com or contact us at 717-740-2622 to learn more.