Every year, healthcare experts and analysts release their predictions about what the biggest trends and disruptors in the industry will be over the next year. But nobody could have predicted the unprecedented disruptions that 2020 has brought to every facet of our lives, and the healthcare industry in particular. These four factors are more important than ever, and may dramatically change how you manage your organizations and deliver care to your patients for the remainder of 2020 and beyond.
- Virtual care
In December 2019, a Forbes article stated: “We project that by the end of 2020, progressive health systems will start to view telehealth as a standard of care option for primary care virtual consultation.” Little could the author have imagined just how rapidly the Covid-19 pandemic would push telemedicine to the forefront of patient care. A report from Global Data showed that leading virtual care platforms experienced more downloads in Q2 of 2020 compared to all of 2019.
To remain competitive while providing access to quality care, hospitals and clinics must view virtual care as a standard component of their practice, not as a temporary solution to a global health crisis. That means investing in a user-friendly platform which works seamlessly with your existing HER and practice management systems, investing in the necessary technology upgrades, and offering training and ongoing support to users – both providers and patients.
- Price transparency
With the financial uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, price transparency is now a must-have for healthcare organizations to attract and retain patients in 2020. A survey from Sapphire Digital in April, 2020 found that nearly half (47%) of Americans age 18-64 surveyed are more concerned about the cost of healthcare now than before COVID-19. The same number reported that they plan to change how they select providers and access care, due to cost concerns, while 91% believe that prices for medical services should be as readily available as menu prices at a restaurant.
To thrive in 2020 and beyond, healthcare providers need to listen to consumers. Make it as easy as possible for them to find and understand all the costs involved in your services, including prices for follow-up care, ongoing medication, or at home supplies needed. Patients need to feel empowered to compare costs between different hospitals and clinics, and to make an informed decision. But listing dollar amounts alone isn’t enough. Patients want to know they are receiving value for their healthcare dollars as well, so be sure to indicate what they are getting in terms of value-added services at your facility, the benefits of choosing state-of-the-art techniques that may come with a higher price tag
- Quality care for less
The cost of healthcare isn’t just a 2020 concern. A 2019 survey from HealthPocket had eye-opening results: 59% of respondents reported being unable to pay a medical bill; 51% avoided seeking medical care due to their inability to pay; 27% held medical debt at the time of the survey.. A shocking 78% of respondents have been afraid to go to the hospital because of cost, and that was before the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In all areas of the industry, healthcare providers are being pushed to provide efficient, more affordable care without sacrificing quality. Doing more with less means optimizing staff numbers and investing in technologies that add real value. Eliminate inefficiencies and duplication with interoperability of digital systems, including electronic medical records. Patient intake, history, requisitions, and discharge forms are time consuming to input manually and file. Consider switching to an integrated document management system which incorporates ID scanners, digital documents, and signature pads into your documentation processes. Doing so will not only reduce your hard costs for paper and printing, but will make your practice more environmentally sustainable as well.
- Customer-centric practices
Does your practice treat patients or serve customers? Behind the push for price transparency, lower-cost services and virtual health options lies a consumer-driven mindset. Americans are increasingly empowered by digital technology, an abundance of available information, and the ability to comparison shop for health services the way they are used to shopping for retail products. To grow your practice in a challenging year like 2020, healthcare organizations must embrace this power shift and provide the customer-centric experience healthcare consumers demand.
According to Kaufman Hall’s Healthcare Consumerism Index, top-tier performers in the health industry have dedicated focus and resources to building a consumer-centric infrastructure. They offer a variety of access points, strong consumer experience, strategic pricing, and price transparency. Your practice should also closely examine billing and payment services, the appointment booking and patient intake processes, and current options for patients to reach staff, seek advice, or have questions answered. Incorporating online payment, chatbots, digital forms, and other virtual services help create a seamless patient experience and the 24/7 service today’s consumers demand.