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:
Greater comfort with digital, plus new care models shaped by responses to the pandemic – think drive-through testing — will hasten the coming of consumer-driven, care anywhere-on-demand healthcare. Strong digital capabilities will be prerequisites to creating the new health plan and provider business models necessary to participating successfully in the market. Steps taken now to deliver strong digital services during the COVID-19 pandemic will enable healthcare organizations to shift more fluidly to new market realities.
The advice in this article was provided by William “Bill” Shea, Vice President in Cognizant Business Consulting’s Healthcare Practice.
For more COVID-19 pandemic insights, visit our COVID-19 response page.