What It Means to be Digital-First in Medicine

Healthcare practices worldwide are finding new and innovative ways to utilize technology in patient care. Developments in medical devices and tests have made healthcare more accurate and efficient than ever. But, adopting a handful of new technologies isn’t enough to stay ahead in modern medicine. For healthcare practices to keep up in the long run, they must embrace a digital-first approach. 

What is Digital-First? 

 

Digitization is everywhere. Almost everything we do on a daily basis has been improved by digitization, making tasks faster and more efficient. This is largely thanks to innovators embracing a digital-first approach. The approach follows the belief that any problem or opportunity should be addressed with the assumption that the solution should be digital. 

In healthcare, a digital-first approach isn’t traditional but is quickly growing in popularity - and for a good reason. Technology has revolutionized modern medicine, making patient care faster, easier, and more efficient. 

While the pandemic may have given digit-first healthcare solutions such as telehealth a shove, providers have continued to run with it. Telehealth services allow patients and providers to connect remotely through synchronous videoconferencing technology. No matter their location, patients can access their provider within minutes. 

Telehealth is widely instrumental in offering an alternative option for patient-provider meetings, but that’s only one of many ways it can be used. For providers to truly embrace the digital-first approach, they should consider the countless other ways telehealth and similar digital solutions can be applied to healthcare. 

 

Embracing Digital-First Through Telehealth

 

Years after the pandemic outbreak, telehealth has extended far beyond mere videoconferencing. Today, telehealth solutions and other healthcare technologies can be used to treat patients and facilitate ongoing care, in addition to addressing many of the problems that providers face in their practice. 

 

Telehealth and Patient Care

 

In terms of patient care, telehealth platforms serve as an all-in-one solution. When patients make an account within the patient portal, they can begin by uploading any medical records and images and converting them to EHRs. Once on the platform, patients can access these at any time, saving them from the hassle of preserving and carrying CDs. 

Once a patient requests to meet with a provider from the community portal, patients can communicate through direct messaging or synchronous virtual meetings. During this time, providers can access patient records pertinent to the case, helping them to make diagnoses, recommendations, prescriptions, and treatment plans. 

Patients can also utilize their telehealth platform for second opinions. To do so, patients can simply add a physician to their case, and they will receive all relevant files and records. In digitizing this process, patients can get better care than they would in an in-person meeting, as much of the back-and-forth and waiting is eliminated. All the information that providers need can be available to them in seconds, ensuring that they have the resources for quality care. 

Telehealth platforms even provide other services such as prescriptions and healthcare resources. Essentially every step of a patient’s experience can be made faster and easier through telehealth. By adopting a digital-first approach, providers can make their jobs easier while improving the quality and accessibility of their care

 

Telehealth and Healthcare Practices

 

Often when telehealth is discussed, it’s focused on the benefits it offers to patients. While this is understandable - after all, patient care should be the focus - it ignores many of the benefits that telehealth can offer providers. Going digital-first in medicine goes beyond solving patient problems through technology and extends into how physicians can solve all problems. 

Managing a practice is challenging work, and a lot goes on behind the scenes. While practices may be readily embracing digitization to improve patient care, they ignore all of the opportunities to improve these behind-the-scenes operations with technology. 

As a practice, if you are still storing patient records in a filing cabinet, recording notes by hand, or faxing images back and forth - you aren’t embracing digital-first. All of these seemingly simple tasks take away from patient care. If patient records are lost or damaged or valuable time is being spent on administrative tasks, patients aren’t being cared for as efficiently as they could be. 

But, with telehealth, all of these problems and more can be addressed. Telehealth platforms serve as an all-in-one solution for physicians just as they do for patients. Physicians can easily store and access patient records within the telehealth platform, eliminating the need for tedious manual storage and organization. 

Not only does this make it faster to pull and review patient records, but it also makes it more accurate. With all patient records digitized, there is no risk of accidentally referring to an outdated scan or pulling the wrong patient’s records. Instead, all patient records are accurately matched, ensuring more accurate treatment. 

Physicians can also use telehealth platforms to collaborate with colleagues at other clinics, communicate with patients, view imaging investigations, and even facilitate online payments. While all of these tasks may not seem as though they take much time, they add up when performed several times a day (day after day). Fortunately, telehealth takes care of all of these and more. As a result, providers can focus only on patient care and leave the other tasks to the technology.

Learning to rewire your brain to search for digital solutions can be challenging, but telehealth helps healthcare providers to embrace the digital-first approach with ease. With all of a practice’s services and resources centralized into one platform, providers can address every challenge with technology - significantly improving patient care and daily operations in a way that lasts. 

 

Digital-First and Patient-First

 

Just as the digital-first approach is a popular topic of conversation, so is the patient-first approach. Consumerism, a focus on the patient experience, encourages providers to improve patient outcomes through communication, collaboration, and a holistic approach. While this is a critical component of modern healthcare, consumerism is only possible if providers have the right tools. 

A significant component of the patient-first approach is making care more accessible and convenient for patients. Achieving this is only possible with technology, which brings us back to the digital-first approach. 

The digital-first approach helps providers to recenter their focus on patients and prioritize patient care. With most services and operations digitized, providers can ensure that their only focus is on their patient’s health. For providers looking to embrace digital-first and future-proof their practice, telehealth is the first step. 

 

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