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Health care in a post-pandemic world: Telehealth is here to stay, but so are in-person visits

What's the future of telehealth as we emerge out of the pandemic? This guest contributor weighs in. Photo via Getty Images

As medical practitioners were faced with the abrupt arrival of the pandemic, they had to immediately adapt to new technologies and switch to telehealth – fundamentally changing the way healthcare is delivered. During the first few months of the pandemic, many private practices were forced to close their doors. Some have since opened with limited schedules, but many are still feeling the effects linger.

Telehealth has grown in popularity due to the efficiency and convenience it offers to both patients and providers. A recent CDC report noted that 30 percent of weekly health care visits occurred via telehealth from June to November 2020. According to the Health Center Program Data, 43 percent of health centers were capable of providing telehealth in 2019, compared to 95 percent of health centers using telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As patients and healthcare institutions navigate this remote landscape, many challenges need to be addressed. Particularly, the rules and regulations that govern telehealth and how to ensure telehealth platforms can be used safely to offer care. Beyond policies and laws, there are several infrastructure hurdles affecting the implementation of telehealth services in rural areas, making this population vulnerable to inadequate access to care. The same CDC report noted that rural areas reported the lowest average of weekly health care visits via telehealth.

Practitioners also face new challenges evaluating and diagnosing patients without having the ability to do a hands-on physical exam and access to vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate and temperature during virtual visits. Telehealth visits are no match for direct, inpatient clinical visits, but practitioners are still trying to find its role in our current healthcare system.

Some of the ways we've integrated a technology-driven approach to healthcare at WellnessSpace is through putting together the best of both worlds. We focus on in-person visits that have the convenience of technology to enhance the experience of both members and their clients. We use client self-check-in kiosks, an interactive mobile app that allows our members to reserve suites on-demand, download invoices, manage their bios and message other members. We are focusing on providing an easy and integrated experience for both patients and practitioners, which is something that will play a key role in how practitioners and patients navigate the "new normal" as we move forward.

We can expect telehealth to continue to play a vital role in providing healthcare, but for the vast majority of practices, telehealth will supplement in-person visits, not replace them. In a release from the Department of Health and Human Services, surveyed practitioners expect telehealth to remain at 21 percent compared to 51 percent during the pandemic.

Overall, the pandemic has opened the doors for telehealth and increased its adoption among all age groups. It's provided an alternative for practitioners to still offer care, just in a different way. While it's not ideal for all situations, this technology is a tool that can help practitioners continue what they do best – helping patients.

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Sunny Somaiya is the co-owner of Houston-based WellnessSpace.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston-based HighRadius has launched a new platform. Photo via Getty Images

Houston-based HighRadius — which recently hit $1 billion valuation, reaching unicorn status — has launched a new learning platform.

Highako Academy by HighRadius, launched the platform to help credit and collections teams build certain skills faster. Highako features over 650 expert-led videos, community forums, and resources. The new on-the-job training platform, which announced its launch this week, is used by more than 2,800 companies, according to a press release.

"Our customers have asked us for an online self-service learning platform, and that led us to launch highako.com as a beta platform last year," says HighRadius COO Urvish Vashi in the release. "With 10,000+ users on the platform and a vibrant partner ecosystem consisting of credit groups, collection agencies, attorneys and industry associations, we see this echoing a larger trend of millennials and Gen Z gravitating towards microlearning platforms."

In honor of the launch of Highako Academy, the organization has announced plans for Credit SkillCon '21, a lunch-and-learn event from June 16 to July 20. The 53 live workshops, panel discussions, and on-demand sessions will focus on topics including negotiations, credit risk assessment, bankruptcy litigation, collections strategy and more. .

"We continually hear from members about wanting more and different educational options," says Jon Flora, president and CEO of NACM Business Credit Service. "The last year has changed much about how we answer this call, and now we have a solution. We are the first NACM affiliate to partner with Highako Academy."

HighRadius and its AI-powered SaaS technology, which streamlines accounts-receivable and cash-management processes, are growing fast. The company, which processes over $2.23 trillion in receivables transactions annually, per the release, raised $300 million in March. At the time of that raise, HighRadius, founded in 2006, employed more than 1,000 people around the world — and was hiring.

"Our goal has always been to build a long-lasting business that outlasts all of us," Sashi Narahari, founder and CEO of HighRadius, said in the news release. "I look forward to working with [our] high-quality, long-term investors, who share a common vision of transforming the office of the CFO using a combination of artificial intelligence built on top of connected-finance workspaces and embedded analytics."

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