How healthcare organizations are implementing hybrid patient care services during a pandemic-related surge in virtual care

The COVID-19 pandemic created an enormous surge in demand for virtual patient care. As a result, major healthcare organizations were forced to adapt quickly and provide a hybrid patient-centered care model that encompasses both telehealth and in-person appointments.

Looking toward a post-pandemic future, there’s a new frontier where a hybrid patient care model is the norm. Here’s how major healthcare organizations can make the transition to a hybrid model while continuing to provide world-class patient care services for years to come.

Goals and Outcomes for Implementing Hybrid Patient Care

By implementing innovative telehealth systems, healthcare organizations can address the core impediments to consistent patient monitoring. 

Common impediments to receiving and providing consistent healthcare include:

  • Physical access
  • Financial resources
  • Paperwork
  • Time management
  • Safety, security, and HIPAA compliance issues
  • Perception of hassle
  • Intermittent gaps in care
  • Providers’ concerns about resources and profitability
  • Legal and HIPAA compliance issues

A properly-implemented hybrid patient care system with the right technology addresses these core concerns on every front. 

Safety and security: The technology uses world-class software and web security standards, plus it’s built to be HIPAA compliant.

Perception of hassle: Physical access is easier because providers can use their devices to reach patients through technology rather than traveling long distances

Intermittent gaps in care: In areas where in-person appointments are inadequate for various reasons, telehealth appointments fill the gaps, and vice versa. 

Providers’ concerns about resources and profitability: Hybrid care technology can provide reports and data to help healthcare organizations maximize resource allocation and stay profitable.

Technology in the Hybrid Care Model

The technology involved in implementing this type of care model is an extremely important and often overlooked aspect of administering proper care. This is particularly true for facilitating communication with people who are non-native English speakers or have difficulty speaking due to a disability.

As large healthcare organizations opt for telemedicine, it’s essential to keep language access in mind. For example, does the telemedicine technology in question work across many languages? Does it provide access for people who are blind, hearing impaired, or speech impaired?

Certain types of healthcare technology assist people with limited English proficiency, which is sometimes required by law. This goes a long way toward expanding access. 

However, even advanced technology sometimes still fails to serve people with language limitations. For example, the system might provide a menu of selections that uses too much medical jargon or abbreviations that are hard to understand by those seeking care.

The specific technology a healthcare company uses to interact with its patients is also of critical importance. The best technology includes most or all of the following features:

  • Web-based access that works regardless of location or device
  • Dynamic care management software that can provide a comprehensive view of the patient’s health status
  • A secure, intuitive, and HIPAA-compliant provider/patient portal
  • A tracking timer feature that allows easy billing and reimbursement
  • Flexibility to offer clinical, consultation, analytic, and logistics services
  • Reports and data about ROI and hybrid program effectiveness

It’s important to have potential hybrid care technology reviewed by experts in the fields of accessibility and/or ADA compliance. Use only the types of technology that provide the broadest possible access, plus those that have the flexibility to make necessary changes over time.

The Success of the Hybrid Care Model in Practice

Success stories abound when it comes to the hybrid telehealthcare care model. There’s already ample research showing telehealth improves outcomes for patients experiencing a wide variety of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.

In terms of heart health, for example, telemonitoring supports in-person appointments with benefits supported by clinical research such as:

  • Reduced hospital readmissions
  • Fewer gaps in monitoring and care from missed appointments
  • Minimized racial and socioeconomic barriers
  • Prevention of early death
  • Reduced all-cause mortality

At Massachusetts General Hospital, doctors launched an extremely fast-paced hybrid care model in April 2020 when 98% of visits went virtual within a single month. Even during this crisis with minimal preparation, the hospital saw positive outcomes, including:

  • A high level of patient satisfaction with virtual care visits
  • A high degree of clinician and patient engagement
  • New options for cardiac patients self-identifying as hesitant to engage in in-person care
  • Virtual visits remaining in high demand even as in-person visits resumed after pandemic-related closures

Maintaining an Optimal Hybrid Care Model

The hybrid model comes with an important caveat for major healthcare organizations. Some medical professionals are seeing a concerning potential for increased care fragmentation within hybrid patient care.

Care fragmentation occurs when no single doctor has a clear and comprehensive picture of a patient’s health status. Instead, their care is fragmented among many healthcare channels, like smartphone apps, pharmacies, virtual care specialists, retail clinics, and urgent care centers.

Large healthcare organizations can head off the problem of care fragmentation by optimizing virtual patient care services. Methods of optimizing the hybrid care technology include:

  • Addressing workflow integration issues
  • Streamlining electronic health record (EHR) management
  • Setting rules and protocols that maintain data privacy standards
  • Training staff to use the technology and handle a blend of telehealth and in-person care
  • Working with telehealth experts to find additional ways to get the most out of the technology

Implementing Patient-Centered Care with AMC Health

The new hybrid patient-centered care model brings many benefits but also many challenges. As the use of telehealth has expanded, so has the list of tasks facing physicians and healthcare executives. 

AMC Health offers a suite of virtual care monitoring services, including remote patient monitoring solutions for seamless, real-time virtual healthcare that empowers people, maximizes resource management, and improves patient outcomes. 

Please schedule a demo to learn more about how to implement hybrid patient care services.