According to The Digital Front Door 2021 report by KLAS Research, most health systems in the U.S. turned to their EMR vendor for video and other telemedicine capabilities, while others partnered with organizations like Amwell or Doximity. But there’s more to digital health. Today’s hybrid healthcare calls for approaches that empower people and clinicians, outside and in complement to the clinical setting.
Here are two approaches that are essential to get right:
1. Automated remote monitoring of patients coupled with telemedicine
“How are you feeling compared to 12 hours ago?” and “Is it harder than usual for you to breathe?” are the two questions texted twice a day to patients with Covid-19 for remote check-in. Text responses reporting worsening symptoms are automatically flagged and addressed by telemedicine clinicians of Penn Medicine OnDemand, 24/7, who then pre-screen for the emergency department. An initial observational study (Delgado et al. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2021) showed that at-risk patients in the program presented earlier to the ED, which led to lower mortality rates for these patients compared to those not enrolled in the program.
Remote monitoring of patients with non-acute illnesses that can be managed in the home is essential to optimize resource management.
Remote patient monitoring devices, like glucometers, blood pressure monitors, scales, oximeters, noninvasive ventilation equipment for sleep apnea, etc., are well known. The full potential of these devices becomes apparent when patient data is safely transmitted to the provider and analyze using dedicated AI technology. With this, care teams can monitor large populations and receive automatic notifications about specific patients who might be at risk. They can then check up on these patients over the phone or schedule telemedicine appointments with their provider for potential therapy adjustments or referrals.
2. AI-powered professional patient education and outreach applications
Essential healthcare screenings, like colonoscopy, have sharply fallen during the pandemic. More patients are presenting with late-stage cancer diagnoses, negatively impacting mortality rates and service delivery. The use of smartphone apps that combine professional educational videos with text/in-app reminders to augment bowel preparation instruction is proven to improve bowel cleansing and polyp detection (Walter et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020) and may reduce the need for repeat procedures (Hayat et al. AJM Online, 2016). Digital patient education and reminders are a must-have for every healthcare organization.
The hybrid healthcare experience goes beyond integration in the workflow to address the needs of people and clinicians at home, in the community, and in the clinical setting.