The pandemic disrupted many industries, but few experienced the level of change observed in health care. During the pandemic, the healthcare industry evolved from slowly adopting technology to implementing new technology strategies virtually overnight to continue patient care, especially through telehealth. In addition, during the pandemic, government deregulation helped drive an increase in virtual care, which was especially critical for patients with chronic and high-risk conditions if they were to contract COVID-19. In fact, according to data of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was a 154% increase in telehealth visits during the last week of March 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.
As vaccines become available, practices have reopened, but many continue to offer telehealth appointments. As the pandemic continues, telesalut visits have fluctuated with the number of new cases of COVID-19 (an increase in virtual visits as the number increases and a decrease as the number decreases), providing patients with expanded care options, According to the CDC.
What lessons can this crisis adoption of telehealth teach us about how to stimulate technology adoption more generally?
They understand that the latest and brightest technology is not always the best
Many new applications, platforms and systems are released every day in the technology industry. However, the launch of “great technology” is not enough to ensure adoption, even if it solves a clear problem.
When we look at the healthcare sector, telehealth is not a new technology – it has existed at least since the 1950s – but we did not see a large-scale adoption until 2020. This is due to the fact that both providers ‘care as patients have traditionally assumed that in-person care is superior to virtual care; Reimbursement for virtual care has also historically been much lower, with significant restrictions on when and where it can be used for routine patient care. This has led to a situation in which technical capabilities have evolved (high-speed Internet availability, mobile and desktop processor capabilities, etc.) but traditional doctors have not adopted it.
In 2020 we saw the two barriers fall, at least temporarily. Given the choice between wireless access and virtual access, providers and patients chose the latter en masse, especially for visits that did not require practical care: mental health, some visits. chronic care, etc. pandemic, government and commercial payers relaxed the heavy restrictions of the “place of care” and increased the rates of reimbursement of telehealth on parity or almost with face-to-face care. For adoption to stay at current levels (or increase), financial incentives will need to stay aligned.
Address the painful points beyond the immediate crisis
Telehealth has the potential to remain long-term because it addresses the challenges that existed before the pandemic and are likely to exist after. For example, according to industry data, telehealth appointments are more likely to take place after normal business hours or on weekends compared to face-to-face appointments, and are also more likely to be scheduled on the same day. This suggests that telehealth offers additional options to improve patient accessibility and comfort.
As we look to the future, it will be crucial for telehealth offerings to continue to evolve beyond the crisis. Workflows and disconnected experiences may have been tolerated when there were no alternatives, but physicians and patients increasingly expect virtual care tools to be effortlessly integrated with all their other tools. It is essential that the physician / patient interactions that occur have virtually the same level of connection with the rest of the system as a face-to-face visit.
He turned the first adopters into evangelists
Communication theorist and sociologist Everett Rogers first published his theory on the “diffusion of innovation” in 1962, and to this day it remains one of the most widely cited theories about the adoption of new innovations by of consumers. According to Rogers, the ideas come from innovators, but the momentum of a product in the market goes through the first adopters. We saw that this pattern was played out at the beginning of the pandemic; the global use of telehealth was closely related to having used telehealth in the past. In other words, if an organization had done it cap experience with telehealth before the pandemic, even if it was only one person in a much larger practice, were more likely to use telehealth at a higher level than organizations that did not have such prior experience. The impact of early users who indicate that the technology is usable and safe for the rest of the industry cannot be underestimated. If we believe that virtual care has a place in the delivery of care, healthcare providers’ organizations should identify the first users and help them become evangelists of this technology.
Apply lessons learned to advance adoption
COVID it showed us that we should not accept conventional wisdom about the notoriously slow adoption of new technologies by health. Lessons learned from the adoption of telehealth in crisis provide information to technology leaders looking for ways to initiate the adoption of other significant innovations in healthcare delivery environments as well as in other industries.
About Jessica Sweeney-Platt
Jessica Sweeney-Platt is Vice President of Research and Editorial Strategy at athenahealth. In this role, it uses original knowledge derived from the national Athenahealth network of more than 100 million patients, establishing connections with healthcare trends and providing a knowledge-based strategy for practices and providers around the world. Jessica was previously the Executive Director of the Athenahealth Research and Knowledge Team. Prior to this position, he led the marketing team in the business segment, where he helped establish the strategy for the company’s relationships with major healthcare systems.
Prior to joining athenahealth in 2015, Jessica was the managing director of The Advisory Board Company, a Washington-DC-based provider of health technology and research. There, he was responsible for sharing the results of the company’s research with members at annual and on-site meetings. With specific experience in responsible care strategy, medical group growth strategies, and redesign of hospital care, Jessica focused much of her time working with research teams to create and deliver interactive teaching modules, on-site presentations. and workshops. Jessica was also a former CEO of the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner), a for-profit network of executives from the world’s largest and most progressive organizations. She led the HR Executive Forum, a membership program for medium-sized human resources executives, and was a leading expert in the field of human resources strategy. He was also responsible for executive training in business strategy and innovation practice. Jessica graduated with a degree in history from Yale University.