• Rebecca Jones

Consumerism and Interoperability in a COVID-Riddled Healthcare Ecosystem in 2020

DALLAS, TX, April 3, 2020 –In these COVID-riddled times, the experience of finding care is becoming nearly as critical as the care received. Today, thirty-eight (38) states have stay at home orders in place, and an additional 7 have some stay at home orders in some urban areas. Only 5 states continue to resist implementing even a partial lockdown for their residents.

In this current landscape, our new “normal” of decreased travel and in-person interactions, health systems must consider how they can reach and serve their population.

As it’s likely that COVID-19 will be with us for the next 12-18 months, we’d argue that extending the digital patient experience is even more critical now, than ever. Why?

1.) Health systems across the nation have severely limited the number of elective procedures they will perform, as they increase capacity to handle COVID-19 volume. They are seeing precipitous declines in utilization and in revenue; profitable lines of service are running at low capacity. Hospital leadership can’t expect that the $100B allocated to backfill operational needs will cover this gap longer-term. In response, health systems must prepare to deliver care virtually. This means knowing which providers offer telemedicine (not all will) and sharing that provider data with consumers. As the reality sets in that our daily life will continue to be disrupted by this virus, for months to come, health systems and practices that do not substantially grow the availability of telemedicine consultation will most likely see their practices – and market share –shrink.

2.) Healthcare providers are not immune, and are contracting the virus, in some states at an alarming rate. Take Ohio or Minnesota, where 20 percent of those infected are healthcare workers. As providers are forced to isolate and remove themselves from the workforce, for at least two weeks, health systems must be able to track who is sick, when they contracted the virus and when they will be able to return.

3.) As the Coronavirus puts increasing demands on our healthcare infrastructure and healthcare works, providers are coming out of retirement to help in the fight. Hospitals must be able to track and provide this information as well.

4.) Keep patients informed, by providing them insight about which providers they should reach out to, or which providers are even available at any given time. As healthcare providers from all different services lines are fighting to reduce the spread, patients must have the right information on who they are able to contact.

5.) At the moment of writing this, there have not been any deadline changes regarding the ONC & CMS final ruling that requires hospitals make provider directories publicly available, send ADT notifications for every patient to improve care coordination, and provide digital contact information for all providers. So, as health systems continue their fight against COVID-19, they must keep in mind several deadlines, most importantly, those that need to be implemented by the fall of this year, in order to stay in compliance with the interoperability ruling.

The Coronavirus is disrupting our daily lives, testing our national healthcare infrastructure and leaving a lot of people with questions. When will life go back to normal? Will it ever go back to “normal” or will our nation be changed forever? And how is our healthcare system going to look coming out of this pandemic.

Stay tuned next week, when we consider what we can expect for healthcare post COVID-19.

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