Preparing for the Permanency of Virtual Care

Health Consulting

Since the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders were announced across the US in March, the use of virtual care technologies for patient visits within ambulatory clinics has increased from under 10% to over 70%.  During the first weeks of March, providers scrambled to simply find any virtual care technologies to help keep their “doors” open to their patients.  Problems with bandwidth, reliability, and the unknown length of this pandemic have had practices backtrack, looking for better virtual care platforms. Regulators and payers have met the provider community with sweeping changes to virtual care policies, especially related to reimbursement.  We now teeter between extended shutdown orders and the possible openings of various states.

In these uncertain times, providers and the technology companies supporting virtual care delivery can count on the following:

  • This period of emergency will end, and so will the current landscape of relaxed virtual care regulations.

  • Individuals have now realized the convenience and common sense behind seeing their providers virtually and avoiding unnecessary exposure.

  • This pandemic has provided a window for regulators and payers to see the efficacy and demand for virtual care.

Finding the “new normal”

When the current crisis is over, providers will likely see an increased demand for virtual services. They will want platforms that are affordable, seamless with their workflows, and compliant with regulatory criteria. What worked effectively during the current crisis might not work in the future. The need to adapt will drive the US to permanent and expanded virtual care regulations.

The successful forward path as virtual care regulations journey towards permanency requires assessing short and long-term strategies that focus on reimbursement challenges, legalities, and regulatory oversight.

In the next months, we will begin a blog series looking at topics such as:

  • Technologies needed to effectively practice virtual care;

  • Designing successful virtual care visits for providers and patients;

  • Building trust around PHI data used during virtual care scenarios;

  • How integration with electronic health records (EHRs) affects the virtual care experience;

  • Incorporating the art of reimbursement cycle management to maximize virtual care revenue;

  • Practicing virtual care in the fee-for-service versus a value-based care ecosystem.

Check back in with us next week as we tackle these important considerations when it comes to the “new normal” of virtual healthcare delivery.

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