Featured in Electronic Healthcare Reporter, January 2021
By: Brooke LeVasseur, AristaMD CEO
We have turned a page to the next chapter in healthcare for the US. At its core is a new delivery system in which we leverage all available tools to allocate our precious resources, and the patient is at the center of it all.
We have a severe shortage of providers in the U.S. and must utilize the right tools at the right time to match patients to the right resources in the right place. In addition, healthcare needs to be more consumer-centric, as we are witnessing a rising demand of patients seeking options like telehealth that deliver high quality care faster, more conveniently, and affordably.
Lastly, as we adapt our care deliver models in the future, we need to keep an eye on reducing the stark inequities that have become glaringly apparent during this pandemic. Modalities like telehealth hold the promise to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate access to care through expanded networks and to help close gaps in care and address social determinants of health.
Telehealth solutions can be used to optimize the efficiency of healthcare delivery and ultimately improve patient experience. One mode of telehealth, eConsults, ensure that patients are treated by the right provider in the right setting, by facilitating effective peer collaboration that can support all providers to operate at the top of their license. What that means in practice is that primary care providers can get guidance from specialists to help design care plans, and that in-person visits to specialists can be reserved for those patients with more complex issues who cannot be treated virtually.
eConsults can be used effectively for any routine clinical issue, from questions about treating a rash or lesion, to advice on addressing wounds to getting medication adjustment recommendations for any number of conditions. In addition, electronic physician consults provide an effective way to support remote care of patients with chronic conditions who would normally rely on in-person check-up visits.
At AristaMD, more than 70% of our eConsults are resolved without the need for a patient to see a specialist in person. Now more than ever, facilitating remote care protects patients with higher COVID-19 risk while avoiding a backlog of acute care crises that might otherwise occur if these patients were left unmonitored.
From a consumer perspective, telehealth solutions, like eConsults, deliver care to patients where they are and most often remove the need for travel, time off work and avoidable out-of-pocket expense. More efficient, cost-effective care results in an overall more delightful experience, and ongoing patient demand will fuel widespread adoption of tools like eConsults.
With projections calling for a shortage of primary care providers and specialists we must leverage every tool in the toolbox to ensure we can deliver timely access to care. This means using AI for front door triage, using video for low acuity PCP visits, tapping into eConsults for more complex issues, and using patient messaging for post-visit follow-up. None of these solutions are a silver bullet on their own, but used when appropriate, can ensure patients everywhere get timely access to quality care.