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Maximizing virtual care in 2021: How to innovate and advance your practice in a consumer-driven environment

May 21, 2021
Health IT Telemedicine
Michael Morgan
By Michael Morgan

The consumerism of healthcare has been on the rise for years, but the pandemic rapidly accelerated this trend. In 2020, many practices began their virtual care journey by adopting telehealth to provide a safe alternative to in-person visits. Patients have become accustomed to the convenience that virtual care offers and are now increasingly demanding these solutions. In fact, according to recent data from NRC Health, when it comes to choosing a healthcare provider, 52% of survey respondents listed convenience as their second-most important driver (behind insurance coverage).

Growth in the telehealth market is projected to continue, with providers expecting to increase the percentage of visits offered via telehealth in 2021 by 10-25%. However, in order to succeed in this new age of healthcare consumerism, practices should consider implementing a full virtual care strategy, which includes much more than video chat. A virtual care strategy is custom-built to set a practice up for long-term success, considers the entire spectrum of patient care both in and outside the four walls of the practice, and creates the ideal experience for both patients and staff.

The road ahead: Implementing a full virtual care strategy
According to a recent survey from Updox of more than 1,000 healthcare providers, 75% say it’s important to have a full virtual care strategy moving forward, however, only 28% have actually implemented one. Survey results also showed that running a profitable practice is the number one priority for healthcare providers in 2021, followed closely behind increasing patient satisfaction and improving patient outcomes. Implementing a full virtual care strategy is critical to achieving these goals.

While providers are aware of the advantages digital tools bring, when it comes to implementing a full virtual care strategy, many continue to face barriers to adoption and implementation, or simply don’t know where to begin.

Prior to the pandemic, the number one barrier providers faced when adopting new digital tools was patient comfort level with tech. The pandemic changed this drastically. As patient and provider needs shifted throughout the pandemic, patients’ comfort level with technology increased and the need for providers' to meet this demand skyrocketed. Survey findings showed that initial purchase and implementation (32%), insurance reimbursement (30%) and strain on physicians and other staff (15%), are the biggest challenges providers face when it comes to product implementation and adoption now and looking forward.

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