Reducing burnout while delivering virtual care

Three best practices for healthcare organizations.

As patients across the globe are rapidly gravitating toward virtual healthcare services—both out of necessity as well as convenience—healthcare providers have started noticing that the switch to online-only interaction presents a unique set of engagement challenges.

Just one in four providers had a virtual care program in place in the weeks prior to the pandemic, according to research from Forrester. In the face of rapid change, many providers are struggling to implement the necessary technology. However, when done the right way, telemedicine has huge potential for boosting the levels of patient engagement while improving overall health outcomes.

Modifying practice patterns and operations to support telehealth requires a very different approach to connecting with patients. It demands that organizations adjust clinical and administrative workflows to furnish a highly coordinated, highly efficient experience.

In this piece, we will be looking at three best practices healthcare organizations can follow to boost patient engagement when delivering care virtually.

1) Integrate Patients’ Medical Records with the Telemedicine Platform

Today, close to 96% of non federal acute care hospitals have possession of an electronic health record (EHR) system certified by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

With electronic medical records (EMR) /EHR adoption at an all-time high, it is optimal for physicians to utilize telehealth solutions in the same workflow. Integrating the two technologies could be the key to accomplishing perfect harmony between the various administrative tasks, leaving more time with physicians so they can focus on patients in a better manner.

Both patients and providers benefit significantly from the integration of telehealth and EHR systems.

Integrating a telehealth platform into the EHR and patient portal eases documentation and reduces clinician burden. And when patients have easy access to telehealth, it can increase flexibility and improve the overall patient experience.

“It's opened up a great opportunity to be more consumer centric, to understand the kind of inconvenience and difficulty that even coming to the clinic sometimes brings to families,” David West, MD, medical director of health informatics at Nemours Children’s Health System, said in a recent interview with EHRIntelligence.

An integrated solution does not require multiple clicks to bounce between video screens and documentation. This reduces clinician burden and decreases cognitive workflow.

“If you can deliver the value that's necessary for that child's care without necessarily making them disrupt or having them disrupt their lives less, that is a good outcome and certainly creates better engagement with patients and physicians,” said West.

2) Get a Mobile App Developed for your Practice/Hospital

Patient engagement can only truly be achieved when healthcare providers and patients come together to work towards improved health outcomes. Technology has transformed the patient care landscape completely.

For one, mobile apps have introduced fresh, innovative approaches in healthcare that support both patient engagement and value-based care models. Features such as push notifications, email reminders and app reminders can all be highly instrumental in helping place care in the hands of the patients, engaging them further.

With smartphone usage continuing to expand by the day, and the consumer expectation for instant access to services growing, mobile patient engagement technology is being adopted rapidly. Mobile technology can be used to educate and empower patients through their unique healthcare journey by activating the role patients play in their own health.

Getting an app developed for your practice/hospital can prove to be highly effective when trying to target growth.

Some of the different types of apps you can looking at getting developed for your healthcare facility include:

  • ER/ Urgent Care apps,
  • Wayfinding apps,
  • Pregnancy Support/ Childbirth apps,
  • General Hospital apps,
  • Outpatient care apps,
  • Telehealth apps,
  • Physician Referral apps,
  • Medication Tracking apps,
  • Wellness apps.

You can also leverage custom app development. In this way, you will get a solution that meets the specific needs of your practice without having to dig a hole in your pocket.

3) Have a Dedicated Patient Portal within the Telemedicine Platform

Patient portals are among the pretty frequently discussed technological solutions in the healthcare domain, but how can they utilize the patient portal to boost patient engagement while delivering virtual care?

Encouraging patient participation in their care regimen through use of technology tools to increase patient engagement. Having a dedicated patient portal within the telemedicine platform can prove to be instrumental to this end. The patient’s medical history, chief complaint, medication history, etc, can be recorded when the patient schedules the appointment.

Since the physicians have access to the patient’s history prior to the appointment, it results in personalization of care.

Some of the ways in which patient portal and telemedicine integration can boost patient engagement include:

1) Facilitates Secure Exchange of Messages and other Important Information

Having a dedicated patient portal within your telemedicine platform can cut down on lengthy phone conversations and enable patients to ask questions even between appointments. This facility for patients to make appointments right from the portal boosts the efficiency of your clinical team, enabling them to keep their focus on helping you with the patients who have the most critical problems.

You can also share information such as educational material or clinical reports by the patient portal. The ability to quickly access and distribute patient information electronically eases one of the main distresses of physicians' time today.

Instead of focusing on what it needs to be in a patient's chart or report, you can solely concentrate on giving high-quality care to your patients.

2) Helps in Quick Refill of Prescriptions

With the patient portal, the patient can request medicine or prescription refill from anywhere directly at a time that suits them the best. This provides them with immense flexibility.

3) Enhances Accessibility

With a patient portal, patients can check and reply to messages anytime. Conversely, patients have the freedom of messaging you anytime, outside of office hours. Patients can interact with their doctors at any time. This can save time for receptionists and attendants, notably as the messages appear in real-time.

All in all, state-of-the-art technological advances disrupting the healthcare domain at present can greatly help providers in their efforts to ameliorate patient care and boost engagement.

Communicating with your patients in an effective manner and placing efforts on improving accessibility can take you a long way in delivering quality care.

While virtual care delivery remains to be an unexplored territory for now, one thing is certain: it's set to be the future of healthcare. Establishing telehealth at your practice should be a priority right now.

As a progressive healthcare provider, you constantly need to be on the lookout for ways to stay ahead of the curve and build a loyal clientele. Afterall, engagement isn’t a one-time thing, it is an ongoing process.

About the Author

Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder and president of Arkenea, a digital health consulting firm. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader across Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.