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Canadian Healthcare Technology: Effective virtual care must be easy to use for both clinicians, patients

Effective virtual care must be easy to use for both clinicians, patients

By Nicholas Chepesiuk, for Canadian Healthcare Technology

October 2021

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare leaders, systems, and organizations were forced to rapidly implement digital healthcare solutions to continue caring for patients. In fact, there was a 154 percent increase in telehealth visits in the U.S. in March 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. For patients seeking virtual mental healthcare, that meant a 32 percent increase in appointment completion during the pandemic, compared to only 6 percent prior to 2020. It’s clear that digital healthcare is the expected standard by patients.

Digital healthcare solutions enable patients to receive care when and where they need it most. Think of it as omni-channel care, which means that healthcare can be delivered in-person, through different types of technology or other tools, and is not limited to the binary models of in-person or video conference.

This is especially significant for behavioural and mental healthcare patients. They may find that telehealth helps reduce mental healthcare stigma, allowing them to seek care from a safe and secure place while connecting with providers at any time, especially during crises.

Most telehealth platforms provide some tools that offer asynchronous and synchronous care to support an omni-channel care model. EMRs (Electronic Medical Record), for example, often come with video conferencing and content sharing add-on features. However, these features can be bulky and disjointed even within a single platform, creating operational inefficiencies for providers and administrators.

For providers and businesses, this means time lost and higher costs. Healthcare organizations spend 12 cents of every dollar on administrative tasks. This is 12 cents – roughly equaling $569 billion dollars annually – that could be spent on healthcare.

Luckily, there are now omni-channel care solutions that can streamline the delivery of virtual care and reduce these administrative costs.

All-in-one and patient-facing telehealth solutions, such as OnCall Health, are developed with behavioral healthcare in mind. They have automations to make providers and administrators more efficient, a digital front door so patients can easily find and access healthcare and equip healthcare leaders with program management tools to scale and optimize their business.

Complete telehealth solutions unite the provider and patient experience in one solution, accounting for pre-consult, the virtual experience, and post-consult care so healthcare happens in one place. There’s no need for hard to use add-on features that neglect a seamless patient experience. Rather, new patients can access care easily through video, phone, or instant messaging tools, while current patients can easily sign up for continued care with the organization’s existing provider network.

OnCall Health’s client, Trafalgar Addictions Treatment Centers, developed a successful omni-channel care program that focuses on provider efficiency, patient accessibility, and program growth using one unified solution.

For example, OnCall’s billing and payment feature enables Trafalgar to automatically send bills and receipts to patients after every appointment. This means that provider and administrator time that was previously used for follow-up is now used for patient care.

With Trafalgar-branded apps in the app store and online, patients can easily find Trafalgar and sign up for care. Trafalgar has configured the patient scheduling and onboarding process for each program offered, so patients signing up to receive addictions care see a different onboarding process than patients signing up for their alumni program.

Trafalgar has experienced exponential growth with newfound efficiency and an impressive patient experience. Shane Saltzman, CEO of Trafalgar, says “since accessibility is no longer a barrier to care, participation has increased and triple the number of graduates are seeking individual virtual therapy services than in previous years.”

Trafalgar has both increased patient accessibility and grown their business with digital healthcare. Shane Saltzman attributes Trafalgar’s growth to its ability to manage more programs and personalize care through OnCall.

In fact, “Trafalgar went from having one group a week at each physical location, to actually offering three groups a day, five days a week, virtually.” With personalized care, patients feel compelled to continue their healthcare journey with digital tools that make finding and receiving healthcare more convenient and accessible. Trafalgar has experienced 300 percent growth in their digital programs since launch and continues to schedule over 500 virtual appointments every month.

There are many considerations for healthcare organizations looking to champion omni-channel healthcare. In a survey conducted by Ipsos, 44 percent of healthcare providers found that digital care tools save them time with 34 percent confirming a reduction in overhead costs.

Empowering providers and patients with digital tools that make providing and receiving care easy is a no-brainer in omni-channel healthcare. Digital technology is not only the antidote to more accessible and efficient care, but it also eliminates countless pain points that providers encounter every day, leading to satisfied providers and happier patients.

Nicholas Chepesiuk is the founder and CEO of OnCall Health, a telehealth solutions company that provides best-in-class software to healthcare organizations, startups, and clinics to launch and grow their own telemedicine programs. Under his leadership, OnCall Health is growing rapidly and today hosts over one million telemedicine appointments annually through its telehealth solution.