Hybrid healthcare has taken off with great speed and is offering enhanced access to healthcare to patients worldwide. But, as with all new solutions, it still has a few bugs that need fixing. For providers to offer hybrid healthcare most effectively, they must overcome these four challenges.
1. The Digital Divide
While a significant portion of the world has access to digital tools such as Wifi, smartphones, and computers, millions of people don’t. As hybrid healthcare leads the medical industry into more digitized solutions, it widens the digital divide for many patients. One of the greatest challenges that hybrid healthcare poses is this divide. There are concerns that as it grows, it will leave patients without internet access or remote monitoring tools without access to healthcare.
While this is an issue to keep in mind as practices become more digitized, it also emphasizes the beauty of the hybrid model. While the digital aspects of telehealth and hybrid healthcare will increase healthcare access for many patients, they won’t take away traditional means of healthcare from those who rely on them.
Patients who lack the means to access healthcare remotely or digitally don’t have to. Just because practices and will provide digital health services doesn’t mean that they will do so exclusively. In fact, as more patients will be taking advantage of the digital aspects of hybrid healthcare, that means there is more availability for other patients to utilize traditional, in-person services.
Plus, as advancements in digital healthcare, such as telehealth, are becoming more widely adopted, providers are looking to close the digital divide. With greater demand for hybrid healthcare, more and more practices are offering telehealth services and working on getting their patients connected. Whether older patients without tech familiarity or those who don’t have access to digital healthcare tools, providers worldwide are looking to provide them the resources they need to access their care - digitally or otherwise.
2. When to Go Digital Vs. Traditional
While hybrid healthcare offers patients flexibility between remote and in-person healthcare, this introduces another challenge. As a practice, if you’ve adopted the tools and resources to make hybrid healthcare possible, it’s understandable that you want your patients to utilize it fully. As such, it requires a balance of digital and in-person care, hence the hybrid in hybrid healthcare. But, if patients are only choosing one care method, it can leave some resources overwhelmed and other resources underutilized. Plus, patients may choose the care method that they prefer, even though it may not be the most optimal for their care needs.
While many patients have a preference in how they receive their care, providers need to develop a system that determines when telehealth services will be used as opposed to traditional, in-person care. Providers can determine the most effective way to sort patients between care methods with an organizational strategy.
For example, providers may decide that routine appointments such as prescription refills and check-ups can be made through their telehealth platform. These situations are routine and often take up more of a patient’s time in the commute than the appointment, so conducting them through a video conference is more efficient. Alternatively, new patient meetings, annual physicals, or irregular appointments may be conducted in person to perform exams, tests, or cultivate a provider-patient relationship.
While this is only one example, developing a strategy will help providers efficiently allocate resources between traditional and telehealth services, ensuring that the hybrid model is used effectively. Plus, dividing certain services between care methods will help save time and energy for both patients and providers.
3. Hybrid Healthcare Demands a Seamless Patient Experience
For patients who choose telehealth over traditional means of healthcare, the convenience it offers is immense. As patients can access the care they need from any location, at any time, patients have a reduced need to take time off of work, arrange childcare, or devote time to commuting and waiting. Instead, they can get the care they need quickly and efficiently without sacrificing half of their day - or the quality of their care.
But, this introduces the next challenge in hybrid healthcare: it demands a seamless patient experience. If patients rely on telehealth for their care, it needs to be reliable. If not, it leaves patients with compromised care, essentially rendering telehealth services useless. Providers offering hybrid healthcare, and thus telehealth services, must be proactive in answering patient messages, attending virtual meetings, and keeping their platform up and running.
Fortunately, this challenge has an easy fix. Telehealth platforms such as Medicai are incredibly user-friendly for both providers and patients, making delivering a seamless and reliable patient experience possible. With Medicai, all telehealth services are centralized in one location. All relevant patient information is consolidated into their case, ensuring that all images, records, prescriptions, and more, are kept in one place.
Plus, as Medicai is compatible with many devices, physicians can access the platform on their computer, tablet, or mobile device, allowing them to communicate with patients at any time, from any location. Providers can also invite patients to a discussion room to request information and files directly from them, avoiding the tedious back-and-forth of emails or phone calls.
With Medicai, managing telehealth services is simple, allowing providers to deliver a seamless patient experience in their hybrid healthcare model.
4. Facing Security Risks
Data security is a topic on everyone’s minds as of late, including the healthcare community. As more practices embrace the hybrid healthcare model, they must address the cybersecurity risks it poses, particularly when utilizing a public cloud environment.
In terms of security, telehealth is a much more secure method of protecting patient data and files than traditional means. Before patient records were digitized, all files and images were stored in a file cabinet within the practice’s walls. While this may seem secure, it exposed patient data to the risk of loss or damage. In contrast, when files are digitized within a telehealth platform, they are safe from loss or damage, ensuring that files are safe.
That being said, it introduces them to new risks in terms of cybersecurity. With a reliable telehealth platform such as Medicai, patients and providers can store files and data in one secure online account. Patient files are only available to authorized physicians, and each account is password protected. This ensures that the only individuals granted access to sensitive data are those supposed to be.
Furthermore, as Medicai keeps files organized to each patient, providers can improve patient matching, ensuring that the records they reference correspond with the patient they’re consulting on. As a result, patient care is more accurate, and all sensitive data and medical records are securely and safely stored.
With a trusted telehealth platform, patients and providers can rest assured that all data is stored in one safe and reliable location. Medicai prioritizes its users’ data privacy and works to ensure that it is not compromised. On top of this, data is kept organized and easily accessible, ensuring the utmost accurate and seamless care.
Every new solution faces challenges, and hybrid healthcare is no exception. Fortunately, the benefits far outweigh these shortcomings - and each challenge can be overcome. With a consolidated, user-friendly telehealth platform such as Medicai, patients and providers can access everything they need in one location. Medicai provides physicians the tools needed to offer a seamless patient experience and embrace hybrid healthcare with open arms.