The value of telehealth has been amply revealed during the pandemic, to the point that it will remain a vital part of the sector, now that this healthcare crisis shows signs of abating. At the same time, in-person interactions with clinicians continue to have their place, meaning that the sector’s future almost certainly lies with a hybrid approach, which enables patients to experience the best of both worlds.
And indeed, we are already seeing evidence of the efficacy of such an approach. Consider Luna, a California-based organization that provides on-demand physical therapy to patients in their homes – much needed, considering seven of every 10 patients who are in need of outpatient PT don’t receive it, as Palak Shah, Luna’s head of clinical services, told Home Health Care News.
Shah added that 87 percent of those receiving outpatient physical therapy could be served at home. Which is where her organization comes in.
“Some people call us the DoorDash or Uber of physical therapy,” she said.
Also, consider MVP Health Care in New York City, which is partnering with BioReference Lab. The latter organization, which is focused on genetics, oncology, urology and women’s health, offers a service known as Scarlet, which enables patients to upload lab orders from the comfort of their own homes. Moreover, patients can use Gia, described as MVP’s “digital front door,” to access the lab results from Scarlet, in addition to consulting with healthcare professionals on other matters.
Dr. Kim Kilby, MVP’s Vice President and Medical Director of Health and Wellbeing, said in an interview with Healthcare Global Magazine that in effect, her organization is “putting more tools in people’s hands” and creating “a more personalized and convenient approach to care.”
Certainly personalized medicine has become a focal point of all providers. The website Updox.com went so far as to declare 2022 “The Year of the Patient,” noting that those receiving care expect their needs to be met as readily in the healthcare sector as they are in the retail space.
And again, the best way to do that is to meld the best of the virtual and in-person worlds. McKinsey concluded that there was a 78 percent increase in telehealth visits when the pandemic first hit the U.S., and while there was an eventual regression, it’s clear that telehealth is here to stay. Citing that same McKinsey report, 60 percent of physicians plan to continue using virtual care going forward, and 40 percent of consumers favor that. It will help address issues like healthcare equity and the physician shortage that is expected in the years to come.
But as noted in a post on the website Relatient, in-person care “remains at the core of healthcare,” as it makes possible “a more comprehensive view of the patient’s health and wellbeing.”
So a happy medium between in-person and virtual care is not only possible, but desirable. As Kilby told Healthcare Global Magazine:
“What we know is that consumers prefer this hybrid model. In similar ways now we have that opportunity for grocery shopping for fitness classes, you can choose depending on your preference. Consumer preference is not going to go away from the healthcare space. Our job really is to bring high-quality opportunities that provide people choice. They still always have the option for an in-person interaction, but by making sure that those options and services are going to be connected and coordinated to the rest of their care, we can add value, convenience and safety to the lives of patients.”
In short, the hybrid model offers the best of both worlds. It is fast becoming a reality in the healthcare sector, and, which is more, needs to be.