Where friends and family are now rapidly adopting virtual channels like teleconferencing to stay in touch while sheltering from COVID-19, and millions of workers globally are now telecommuting and logging in from home, health plans and health systems are aggressively steering members and patients to e-consults and virtual care. Even the federal government is encouraging Medicare and Medicaid providers and patients to use telemedicine channels for routine needs or mild COVID-19 cases. Longer-than-usual wait times for telehealth consults suggest these moves are overwhelming current telemedicine investments and infrastructure.
In the short term, moving consumers to digital channels can help alleviate strain on an overwhelmed healthcare system. Long term, consumers likely will remain loyal to the convenience and accessibility of the digital channels and tools that they were required to adopt during the pandemic. Here are the five key areas — interfaces, engagement, intelligence, data and infrastructure — in which healthcare organizations can take steps to enhance existing and future digital offerings: