In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we keep hearing about the ‘new normal’ that is bound to emerge once the pandemic subsides. While there’s no way to predict the way in which our world will change with certainty, many people suggest that a series of social, political, and economic changes will withstand for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps the sector that is primed for the greatest paradigm shift following the pandemic is the healthcare industry: an industry in which faults and areas for improvement are currently highlighted. What types of changes can we expect to see in the healthcare industry as a result of COVID-19? From healthcare integration to public health surveillance, Iron Bridge is here to break it down.
Healthcare Integration as an Industry Priority
Data Integration & Interoperability Make Treatment More Accessible
COVID-19 reveals a number of blatant flaws within the American healthcare industry, many of which relate to a lack of efficiency, coverage, and access to healthcare during the pandemic. Information has proven to be one of the most valuable resources within the healthcare industry during these trying times, which is why healthcare integration has been made a priority.
Across the globe, IT teams have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to ensure that electronic medical records are readily available to medical teams. This centralized information allows healthcare providers to deliver better care, classify COVID-19 patients, and set up alerts as needed.
COVID-19 isn’t the only force pushing for improved healthcare integration between patients, payers, and providers. In addition to the ONC Cures Act Final Rule pushing for improved patient access to medical information, the healthcare industry is in the midst of a shift toward value-based healthcare models that thrive under conditions of increased data and cost-efficiency.
Altogether, these conditions make evident the fact that the industry is in serious need of healthcare integration as we as a society recover from the turbulence of COVID-19 and look to prevent future large-scale casualties from pandemics.
Telehealth Goes Mainstream
With Healthcare Integration Paving the Way, Patients will Expect More Convenient Appointment Options
Telemedicine has been available for years as an option for patients with low mobility and poor access to transportation. However, these virtual healthcare visits have failed to reach their full potential as a result of poor healthcare policies and patients’ attachment to ‘hands-on’ care from a physician.
However, social distancing practices have made telemedicine visits more popular than ever before, with an estimated number of telemedicine visits exceeding 1 billion by the year’s end. Now that patients realize that many of their routine visits can be completed in the comfort of their homes, we can expect to see a permanent increase in telemedicine appointments.
However, this paradigm shift must be led by insurance companies and health IT companies. Not only do insurers need to commit to covering telemedicine visits in the same way they are during the pandemic, but healthcare practices and their EHR providers must commit to the creation of secure patient portals and streamlined communication tactics—both of which are driven by healthcare integration.
Investment in Public Health Surveillance and Preparedness
Using Contemporary Technologies to Prevent Future Pandemics
National emergencies like COVID-19 have a way of agenda-setting political discourse and policy creation. Following the Zika virus outbreak in 2015, lawmakers set aside larger amounts of emergency funding so outbreak response teams could launch quickly when needed. Initiatives like these, even once the dust of a global crisis settles, should be expected to endure despite partisan agendas.
We can expect this to be a priority in upcoming policy for public health and the healthcare industry at large. With the goal of building up a more sophisticated intelligence system for monitoring outbreaks, public health registries and surveillance systems will likely become better integrated into the healthcare system on a number of levels. Solutions like PubHub will allow providers to easily communicate trends with public health officials who are invested in the reduction of the spread of disease, ensuring the long-term health of our nation.
Reevaluation of Healthcare Coverage
Long-Withstanding Reform of US Health Policy Become More Prevalent than Ever
A surge in the unemployment rate across the United States as a result of the stay at home orders reveals a major fault in our healthcare system. With health insurance plans inherently tied to the benefits packages of employees across the United States, millions of furloughed employees lose their health benefits and employment simultaneously—perhaps the biggest catch-22 of our contemporary healthcare landscape.
Regardless of partisanship, many people agree that COVID-19 has made this issue evident, making healthcare reform an even more important issue for policymakers in the near future. The 2020 election will be vital in determining the direction of this reform and how the United States can best serve its populous for years to come.
COVID-19 will inevitably change our healthcare landscape for years to come. Is your EHR prepared to tackle healthcare integration and interoperability? Get in touch with Iron Bridge today to learn more about how you can serve your patients, providers, and the global community as we emerge stronger from the pandemic.