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How Medical Organisations Can Adapt and Thrive During the Hybrid Healthcare Transition

There's no doubt that telehealth has been valuable throughout the pandemic. But as organisations return to in-person care, they must do more to make hybrid healthcare effective.


Telehealth has been around since the 1960s, but it's only since Covid-19 that we've used the concept properly. 

We've seen telehealth utilisation stabilising 38x higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

However, this explosive growth brings many frictions, including: 

  • Poor delegation and processes for dealing with virtual health administration.
  • Unclear operating procedures for patients and staff. 
  • Difficulty managing data. 
  • Siloed data systems that hinder information transfer. 
  • A lack of specialised internal and external communication options.

Research also shows that 40 - 60% of consumers want broader virtual health solutions. So these frictions will become worse unless organisations prepare themselves. 

To meet virtual health demands, medical organisations must adopt hybrid healthcare.

Why Hybrid Healthcare?

Telehealth promises greater service access, flexibility, lower costs, and more.

But we can't switch solely to virtual healthcare because: 

  • Rural communities or or low-income cohorts may not have access the necessary connectivity or technology. 
  • People may be uncomfortable navigating technology correctly, leading to assessment errors or poor compliance. 
  • Certain conditions and diseases need in-person care. 

Instead, hybrid healthcare combines the best features of telehealth and in-person services, allowing medical providers to offer tailored care. 

Some of the benefits of a hybrid approach include: 

  • Improved service access: Hybrid healthcare enhances service availability for people in remote regions and those unable to visit a professional in-person—for example, a full-time carer. It also results in fewer in-person visits, allowing greater access for patients requiring urgent face-to-face care. 
  • Cost-effectiveness: Patients avoid travelling costs and taking sick days for routine checkups. On the other hand, organisations may be able to reduce staffing needs and enjoy greater productivity. 
  • Greater delivery efficiency: Patients can book appointments sooner since telehealth isn’t as disruptive to a schedule. Plus, doctors can offer several asynchronous services to increase interaction efficiency, such as remote monitoring and text Q & A.
  • Flexibility and autonomy: Since Covid-19, flexible working arrangements have become popular, and healthcare workers want their share. Excluding frontline workers, hybrid care allows staff to work from home while staying productive. It also provides more choice in where patients receive treatment—some elderly patients prefer to receive care at home rather than at a nursing home. 
  • Safety: Where possible, hybrid medical services allow patients with contagious diseases to remain in quarantine while still receiving medical help. As a result, in-person patients are safer while sick patients can spend more time resting. 

The Keys to Hybrid Healthcare Success

There's no doubt that telehealth has been valuable throughout the pandemic. But as organisations return to in-person care, they must do more to make hybrid healthcare effective. 

I believe that these five aspects are the key to successful hybrid care: 

  1. Integrated workflows and systems. 

A significant concern for medical staff is how their workflows will change with hybrid care. However, with the right health tech stack, most workflows can remain largely unchanged—if not further optimised. 

Crucial workflows to look for include:

  • Patient handovers.
  • Multidisciplinary Team Meetings (MDTs).
  • Case management.
  • Organisational broadcasting.
  • Secure data sharing.
  1. Greater awareness of hybrid services. 

Most people had never heard of or used telehealth pre-pandemic. But after learning about it, 74% of patients would be open to using the service. 

The problem is 26% of patients don’t know if their current provider offers hybrid care options. 

Some ways to solve this include:

  • When possible, offer hybrid service options to patients.  
  • Partner with insurance providers to create virtual-first plans.
  • Increase the number of hybrid service offerings. 
  • Education on the benefits of this new approach and how they can use it with your organisation. 
  1. Secure, purpose-built communication platforms.

To manage multiple streams of data, you need a powerful communication platform. 

It must be suitable for healthcare providers—for example, HIPAA and GDPR compliant—and make it easy to communicate with internal and external stakeholders. 

Some features to look for include:

  • Easy stakeholder access, e.g., no downloads or complex interfaces to manage. 
  • Stringent security, e.g., no local data storage and encryption at every data stage.
  • Excellent user privacy, e.g., no need for employees to share personal information. 
  • Ability to share patient data between multiple systems with a few clicks.  
  • Patient communication features such as reminders, direct messaging, and other workflows. 
  1. New standard operating procedures.

New workflows require new processes for staff and patients. 

When you've chosen a health tech stack that supports hybrid care, create the relevant documentation to help staff navigate each platform. You can also create an FAQ database to support use. 

Some other processes to consider include: 

  • Communication about hybrid services. 
  • Appointment scheduling for virtual and in-person bookings. 
  • Information collection and appointment preparation. 
  • The integration of telehealth and traditional workflows. 
  1. High-quality, affordable medical wearables and applications.

Medical wearables and applications can significantly reduce in-person visits for people who require long-term, routine checkups. 

Right now, many devices and apps can support hybrid care, including: 

  • Smart watches with FDA-approved sensors. 
  • Specialty monitors, including ECG, blood pressure, and activity monitors. 
  • Diabetes management and other apps linked to devices. 

However, the primary focus should be decreasing prices through advancements or rebates to improve availability. 

Hybrid Care Is Inevitable, So It's Time to Prepare

Hybrid healthcare has the potential to improve medical service availability, reduce costs for underprivileged communities, and improve patient and employee satisfaction. 

The points in this post will help you start the transition, but it takes a commitment to continuous iteration for hybrid care to succeed. Ensure you regularly analyse workflows and productivity and address stakeholder feedback to help create an effective hybrid environment. 

 

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