How COVID-19 Accelerated Integrated Care – And How to Keep It Moving
Healthcare communities continue to look for ways to transform service delivery in the quest to achieve holistic and integrated care. Prior the pandemic, we were on a consistent path to achieve it. The use of technology – like telehealth and electronic visit verification (EVV) increased – as well as use cases. As we continue to learn the impact of the pandemic and the technology that got us through it, it is important for healthcare providers and leaders to understand three key things and keep exploring new opportunities to push us further on this quest across all service lines.
First, it’s important to recognize that this moment in history gives healthcare the chance to respond effectively or be left behind. our vocabulary has shifted to incorporate words or phrases such as The New Normal, The Next Normal, Post-COVID World or The Great Reset as descriptors for the future. While each of these is valid, one word used less often is: opportunity. Opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. With opportunity comes innovation and the ability to transform how we deliver care. The pandemic provides organizations the chance to accelerate and embrace technology at a much faster pace.
Second, it’s worth noting the demand for varied care deliveries is here to stay. We quickly went from face-to-face interactions with a brick and mortar structure to a near completely virtual framework. Telehealth and virtual care were suddenly the new normal, and continuing care delivery, despite physical distancing and staff shortages, became a top concern. While these tools, along with population health, EVV, etc. were already effective tools to coordinate care, these options, these plus, technology integration and whole-person care became more important than ever before Healthcare workers recognize this, have adapted and push forward to deliver care.
Third, it’s no surprise there will be more individuals to care for from a whole-person perspective than ever before. In January 2021, 41% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder. Early 2020 research shows that drug overdose deaths were notably distinct from March to May 2020, aligning with the beginning of pandemic-related lockdowns.
Understanding these three points shows us that COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the importance of integrated care and that the acceleration from the pandemic gives us the chance to keep going. While many tech tools have been considered to do this there is one that cannot be overlooked, and that is the EHR. Technology will continue to advance the integration of behavioral health, primary care and addiction in a single EHR with the ability to seamlessly document, thus allowing providers across varying service lines to have a comprehensive health view of a consumer.
As we continue to learn more about the pandemic, it’s effects and the technology that got us through it, it is important for healthcare providers and leaders to keep exploring new opportunities to push us further into a holistic and integrated method of care delivery structure across service lines.
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