COVID Increased Patient Referral Wait Times
Telehealth tools, like virtual physician-to-physician consults, can help reduce the wait.
In the wake of COVID-19 patient referral wait times increased because patients delayed, avoided, and canceled medical appointments. One telehealth tool, eConsults, provides timely, low-cost access to specialty care within the primary care setting and reduce the backlog of patients as a “second surge” of non-Covid-19 related healthcare needs continues to rise.
The impact COVID-19 has made on our global economies, lifestyles, health, and healthcare systems is vast and multi-faceted. Many factors have contributed to a “second surge” in healthcare needs of non-COVID-19-related regular care in addition to acute and chronic health cases.
This pent-up demand for care, which is driving longer patient referral wait times, is described as a “crisis within a crisis.” The U.S. healthcare system has been so focused on the coronavirus in recent months that it appears that treatment of other health needs is being delayed or ignored. As this potentially massive influx stresses the system, healthcare organizations must focus on resources to improve timely access to care while reducing appointment backlog.
Video: How to improve access to care while reducing patient referral wait times.
eConsults are an essential asynchronous (or store-and-forward) telehealth technology platform that ensures patients are appropriately triaged to the most appropriate care setting. As healthcare organizations and primary care providers strive to improve access and the quality of care, reducing patient referral wait times is a priority.
eConsults benefit all healthcare stakeholders:
- Health systems: By managing care and the most appropriate setting and optimizing revenue streams.
- Payers: By ensuring patients can access care within the most appropriate setting.
- Providers: By managing the referral backlog to decrease patient referral wait time burden and using a tool to provide more total patient care.
- Patients: By improving access to timely care, whether it be virtually within primary care or specialist, office if needed.
We are experiencing a significant shift in not only our way of life, but also in the delivery of healthcare. An estimated nearly one in three Americans have delayed needed healthcare during the pandemic.
As our world begins to reopen, we need to prepare for the surge of patients that will once again challenge the healthcare system. The good news is that physicians and healthcare organizations are recognizing the value of telehealth, which has led to rapid implementation for all primary care providers treating patients with chronic care conditions and/or COVID-19 symptoms.
eConsults provide virtual and immediate access to on-demand specialists who can deliver medical advice used to treat patients remotely. Effective patient triage will support healthcare success within the post-COVID 19 surge.
For healthcare organizations, eConsults are a tool to process referral cues and triage members into one of the following four categories:
- Patients that specialists should see remotely via telemedicine
- Patients that can be treated including workups or diagnostics within primary care
- Patients that need urgent face-to-face specialty appointments
- Patients that need face-to-face specialty appointments, but less urgently effective triage will benefit all healthcare stakeholders.
With decreased patient referral wait times, our eConsult platform is effective in preventing the negative health impact of care delays.
Contact us today to learn more about how AristaMD can help reduce the impact of the potential second surge in healthcare needs following the pandemic.
Read more: eConsults: an essential telehealth tool for chronic care management amidst the pandemic >