The Continuous Care Model and the Future of Healthcare
By Christina Caldwell -
Tuesday Dec 07, 2021
The U.S. healthcare system continues to face serious issues, including a well-documented shortage in primary care physicians. According to the Primary Care Collaborative, by 2033 there will be a shortage of over 135,000 physicians, including 21,400 to 55,200 primary care physicians.
Physicians are already struggling to keep up with the increasing patient population, and theyâ€™re also experiencing a lack of support staff, excess administrative duties, and little-to-no interoperability in technology systems. Medical practices were already stressed, and the pandemic has pushed the healthcare system to the brink, highlighting the clear need for change.
Another element adding to the physician shortage is that patients are demanding more, including frequent communication, telehealth, easier access to patient records, mobile solutions and an overall better patient experience. Itâ€™s impossible for physicians to manage the needs of patients in the current system. The good news is that the continuous healthcare model provides a solution to these growing demands. However, for this model to be successful and beneficial to all involved, physicians must have the right technology and support in place.
Technology is key in the future of healthcare
The pandemic helped accelerate the adoption of telehealth and the digital transformation of the healthcare industry. In the past few years, barriers that once limited technology solutions have been removed and innovation through technology is accessible in a way that wasnâ€™t possible a decade ago. The pandemic forced the industry to adopt standards and billing processes that paved the way for widespread telehealth adoption and digital transformation that sparked new innovations.
Improve health outcomes and patient satisfaction is extremely important in healthcare, making patientsâ€™ lives easier and creating a positive experience. A study from Accenture found that medical offices that delivered a positive patient experience can expedite financial recovery and capture patients from competitors, leading to direct financial benefits for the practice. However, a survey of nearly 2,000 participants in the general public published by Harvard Business Review found that 62% of people feel that the healthcare system is intentionally confusing. There is a huge untapped benefit for practices to take the extra steps to implement a continuous care model to improve the patient experience.
Technology is key to improving the patient experience and allowing patients to receive care in the way they want to receive it and for physicians to have more frequent, quality touchpoints with patients without monopolizing their time. In todayâ€™s mobile world, consumers expect personalized digital experiences and healthcare is no exception.
Providing personalized experiences to every patient would be impossible without technology. Just like your favorite consumer brands deliver personalized digital experiences in the form of customized emails and product recommendations, healthcare can do the same with sophisticated technology, like artificial intelligence.
Telehealth is more than just Zoom
The rise in telehealth adoption is important on multiple fronts, including mobile access to patient records, access to medication, remote patient monitoring, and more advanced and intuitive patient portals. These tools help facilitate a better patient experience with more access to information and less time investment from the physician and patient.
For example, a single mom of three does not need to visit a primary care physician in person to get answers to routine medical questions. Now, she can set up a video call to check-in with her physician, receive prescriptions and arrange for them to be delivered, set appointments for blood work and other tests, and access all of her records easily from a mobile device.
Technology equals more physician support
An additional strain on primary care physicians is a lack of support staff. Often, three primary care physicians will share one medical assistant, which is very inefficient. In order for physicians to maximize their time and ensure the best experience for patients, clinics can adopt telehealth and implement data platforms to help address low acuity patients quickly and easily to free up a physicianâ€™s time.
Alternative roles that do no require medical licenses can also help support physicians by gathering data and ultimately improving the patient experience. For example, care navigators can help patients navigate telehealth, fulfill prescriptions, answer basic questions and set up appointments.
A continuous care model benefits both patient and physician. A physicianâ€™s can focus on more complicated medical issues versus administrative tasks and it gives patients a more customized experience. However, technology is key to making this a reality. Continuous care is the future of healthcare and the key to improving the patient experience and mitigating risks associated with primary care shortages.
Dr. Kishlay Anand is the President of Apricus Health and a board-certified cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist . Learn more at http://www.apricushealth.com.