Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the rest of 2020 will look like for healthcare. Right now, health systems have the opportunity to make virtual care a part of their success story, instead of just using it as a COVID-19 band-aid.
Here are my thoughts on how virtual care can drive revenue for healthcare providers:
Increase throughput using “intelligent” virtual care
In the months to come, as the backlog for care continues to increase, optimizing the revenue generation per specialist is going to be critical. The tools to do so exist, and the providers who use them will have the advantage.
Let’s think about an orthopedic surgeon. As restrictions for elective surgeries are lifted, there’s going to be a huge spike in demand for operations—leaving providers swamped. To help surgeons regain more time in the operating room, health systems can offload some pre-operative or post-operative care touch points to virtual solutions.
Let’s do the math.
A provider who can process 5 video visits per hour at $75 a visit= $375 versus a provider who can process 30 intelligent interview video visits per hour at $75=$2,250.
It’s a no brainer. This will result in the best use of a surgeon’s time (meaning more revenue for health systems) and less burnout or lost productivity.
Capture “reluctant” patients
The reality is, many patients will carry a fear of healthcare facilities following COVID-19. In order to provide valuable elective care, providers must find ways to adapt and meet these concerns. That’s where virtual care comes in. The experience will look more like: just come in for the procedure—everything else is done at home. Providers are able to minimize patients’ exposure by completing much of the prep work and consultation virtually, not requiring the patient to come in until absolutely necessary.
This is a huge opportunity for health systems to control the broader narrative around safety. Allowing people to do the majority of their care at home is a surefire way to give them confidence and get them in the door for elective or preventive care.
Optimize (more limited) resources
In the midst of social distancing, we’ve learned that not all care requires in-person visits. Going forward, virtual care will enable health systems to triage patients to the appropriate care setting for each touchpoint in their care experience.
Care that used to require more in-person monitoring is going to start shifting to being remote. Standard evidence-based protocols are being reevaluated for things that used to require patients to be monitored in-person, to be done at home. Health systems will be able to reduce the length of stay in a hospital by using virtual care technologies to help a patient recover at home. Looking at how and when the care is provided, we can better help triage patients to meet their needs.
It’s time to step up
In the coming months, the pressure for health systems to recover revenue and for patients to feel safe receiving care will be the most intense in the history of our modern healthcare system. Band-aids don’t fix the problem, they just cover them up. It’s time for health systems to start implementing and integrating virtual solutions to not only meet their needs today, but in the coming months. That way, when restrictions start to ease, the focus can be on maximum productivity and getting patients the care they need, not on ripping off a band-aid.