The challenges put in front of virtual care delivery after the COVID-19 outbreak are significant and deeply influencing further development and integration of virtual care services.
To understand the underlying reasons for changes in service usage after COVID-19, findings from an OECD report, “The COVD-19 pandemic and the Future of Telemedicine,” were presented during the Telehealth Masterclass at the HIMSS23 European Conference & Exhibition in Lisbon, 7-9 June 2023:
The Telehealth Community outlined three policy priorities from this presentation that policymakers should consider. All three priorities rely heavily on data being collected, analysed and reported.
- Learn more about which patients are using remote care services, why they are using these services and what happens after they use them.
- Investigate whether payment and organisational arrangements for provision of telemedicine services, are creating economic incentives that encourage appropriate and effective use of services.
- Foster a model of integrated care delivery in which remote and in-person care services are fully co-ordinated and part of a seamless care pathway.
These three priorities were discussed in a panel discussion, which included clinicians, a behavioural expert, the industry perspective and a patient representative. Together, they came to four important conclusions:
- Data on service usage should be gathered and used for improvements. User experience (UX) of services will drive the usage up and should be increased. Except from early adopters, focus should be an increase of digital literacy and trust in technology and inclusion of chronic disease patients follow-up treatments to be run digitally, when appropriate.
- Digital workplace should be defined for physicians. It must be acknowledged that the majority of healthcare providers have not adopted a systematic and digitally enabled workplace — exam preparation, schedule, supporting staff processes. This is a very high priority because without adequate working conditions health provider staff satisfaction can negatively influence service delivery and patient experience.
- Payment models differ from country to country and major differences lie in services for primary and secondary care payment. Service sustainability for the next five years and beyond must be discussed with payers to ensure a balance of service needs on the patient side, and improved efficiency on the provider side. Without payment support in service design that enables scaling of service, there is no impact on efficiency on the health provider side.
- Integrating virtual care services and systems with existing physical care services and systems in an efficient way is essential for digi-physical care models that we foresee in future. Integration of virtual care in patient pathways is a necessity and is the basis for UX design. Data integration is a hygiene factor when implementing virtual care systems and is recommended to be done by using international interoperability standards (i.e., HL7 FHIR).
About our community
The HIMSS Telehealth Community EMEA aims to unify telehealth across healthcare fields, share best practices, advocate for the vital role of telehealth in future healthcare, and promote recognition of telehealth solutions for enhanced care. We cover topics like in-home care, remote health monitoring, telepsychiatry, rehabilitation, online self-service tools, mobile apps, patient-reported outcomes, e-scheduling with reminders, image and file sharing, e-prescribing, data migration, and scalability.
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