Written by Ryan Bullock, Chief Operating Officer, Aeroflow Healthcare
During the COVID-19 pandemic, utilization of telehealth has skyrocketed among healthcare providers and commercial payers alike. Recent legislation under the CARES Act made it much easier for providers to meet requirements and access funding. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also took action to expand telehealth coverage, as it proved an effective way to meet a variety of non-emergency needs, from prescription refills to mental health counseling.
A recent survey conducted by Aeroflow found that most payors had implemented telehealth offerings specifically in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is not surprising since doctor’s offices and hospitals were seeking to greatly reduce in-person visits in order to help curb the spread, especially in the early days. However, most of the respondents indicated they would continue to utilize and expand telehealth offerings well after the pandemic is under control.
Aeroflow Healthcare’s sleep division was one of many DME providers who expanded our telehealth services to meet patients where they are, offering not only telehealth respiratory set-ups, but in-home set-ups, which is another crucial piece of the puzzle needed to effectively reduce doctor’s visits and meet patients where they want to be: home.
Most payors reported little to no barriers to ensuring members received adequate care at home. The payors we surveyed clearly feel their members are well cared for through virtual health initiatives and recognize the importance of utilizing technologies that can keep costs down and help control hospital surges. Telehealth will be a core competency of providers going forward, with more scrutiny placed on how well they can manage equipment and deliver a seamless experience.
In addition to telehealth delivery, providers will continue to enhance their existing digital capabilities. Automation of processes will be critical as providers seek to offload as much of the administrative duties as possible in order to focus precious efforts on front-line care. While telehealth and process automation and other digital tools have been top of mind for providers for years, the onset of the pandemic has only accelerated the pace of change. These digital efficiency improvements will be more apparent to patients than ever, enhancing retention and engagement more significantly than care in the pre-pandemic world.