5 strategies to ensure patients use telehealth long after the pandemic

The pandemic has brought about the rapid adoption of telehealth, as virtual care modalities have greatly aided the nation's efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, it's important to remember that telehealth was not invented amid the pandemic— and it won't go away when the pandemic is over.

During a Sept. 30 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Google, Aashima Gupta, director of global healthcare strategy and solutions at Google & Mary Modal, chief marketing officer, Amwell, discussed the future of telehealth.

Ms. Gupta and Ms. Modahl, whose two companies have entered a strategic telehealth partnership, discussed five ways healthcare providers should approach the implementation of new telehealth modalities:

  1. Understand that the need for telehealth is ongoing. It's important for healthcare providers to grasp that telehealth is not a trend that emerged only for use during the pandemic. There are millions of patients nationwide who live with chronic conditions or have other longitudinal care scenarios that may require remote monitoring in their homes for years to come.

  2. Think ahead. Ms. Gupta explained this idea to attendees by asking, "Imagine when you and I are in a telehealth experience two or three years from now — how can you make it better?" She stressed that healthcare providers need to constantly innovate their telehealth offerings to make them more convenient, as this will help ensure patients use them long after the pandemic. The speakers also pointed out that virtual care goes beyond telehealth, and healthcare providers need to create an end-to-end experience for patients in a virtual setting.

  3. Adopt hybrid models. Consumers like options, so they enjoy the ability to choose between in-person and virtual care based on their specific needs. Ms. Modahl explained that consumers have responded well to hybrid models in other industries, such as the option to cash a check at the bank or via an app or the option to shop in-store or have your selections sent directly to your home.

  4. Establish a centralized platform. Telehealth offerings should be intuitive, and their layouts should be designed to reduce friction. To accomplish this, Ms. Gupta recommended that all of a patient's data should live in one centralized location, no matter what care type it pertains to. Healthcare providers also need to be careful when it comes to requiring things like web logins and mobile app downloads, as these can be difficult hurdles for older patients to overcome.

  5. Build your organization's national presence. Ms. Modahl pointed out that telehealth makes it so that hospitals and health systems are no longer only competing in a geographic market, but also a digital market. This can allow hospitals and health systems to launch a national presence for certain specialties.

To learn more about Google Cloud for healthcare and life sciences, click here. To access the webinar, click here.

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