In the face of the urgent demands of the pandemic, aided by relaxed regulations and expanded reimbursement codes, many health systems transitioned into remote care by whatever means possible, scrambling to avoid dangerous gaps in care.
Now that the dust is starting to settle, practices are assessing their Covid solutions for scalability and sustainability. Video visits have been the low-hanging fruit in transitioning to remote care, but as practices navigate the logistical barriers of a world without a Covid vaccine, they need to look beyond video visits to a more comprehensive digital health strategy.
One strategy has been to increase the digital touch-points between patients and providers, by ramping up their use of remote monitoring. In May of this year, the Froedtert & MCW health network enrolled 640 patients for remote monitoring and education through a mobile app, a 27 percent increase from the previous month. Enabling their maternity patients to remotely monitor biometric data like weight and blood pressure allows providers to measure healthcare interactions outside the space of a visit, whether in-person or remote, bettering health outcomes through increased patient engagement.
The data that’s captured can be shared directly with providers through the patient’s electronic health record, streamlining provider workflow and thereby increasing the sustainability of the solution. To drive this efficiency, the Froedtert & MCW health network use tools like Xealth in enabling digital health at scale. The integration has accelerated the organization’s rollout of the virtual maternity care plan and given care teams new insight into patients’ program enrollment and engagement.
Of course, a comprehensive, sustainable digital strategy will also take into consideration the bottom line, especially as newly expanded reimbursement codes are reevaluated post-crisis. It will also evaluate the efficiency of the solution. If a digital tool is not self-sufficient — if it creates a need for more hands and more materials rather than reducing and streamlining workload — it’s not sustainable, particularly in the current landscape in which medical practices and hospitals are operating on razor-thin margins and feeling the effects of a nationwide physician-shortage.