The recent pandemic brought telehealth (medical care where the doctor and the patient connect remotely over a communication network) to the mainstream. For over an year and a half, both patients and the medical community having been locked down, had to rely on telehealth. The only way to get immediate medical care was to get on a video call and have a consultation. A number of companies sprung up to meet this need by helping patients pick a doctor from an online listing they maintained.
Now with the pandemic mostly behind us, in-person care is increasing and rightly so. Telehealth can address only a certain category of health issues. Mostly primary care, urgent attention in case of accidents and sudden illnesses, and follow-ups. For anything more serious, or anything that requires a physical examination, a patient has to show up at the doctor's office.
Doctor: "So, how has your headache been since we last talked?"
Patient: "It's been much better, thanks. I just needed a change of screen."
Now with more patients being used to telehealth, patients and doctors are resorting to remote consultations where it is convenient and in-person care where it is essential. A hybrid model of healthcare is thus evolving in the marketplace.
Hybrid healthcare services are emerging as an important streamlining of a patient-centric delivery of care, seamlessly integrating remote care and in-person care.
The benefits of hybrid healthcare services are many: increased patient engagement, coordinated appointment scheduling, a constant frame of reference of the patient health information whether the treatment is virtual or in-person.
However, the challenges most healthcare providers face are the lack of an integrated system and processes to manage hybrid healthcare. In most cases, current IT systems have been around since well before the pandemic and telehealth systems were hastily put together or retooled to meet the needs during the pandemic. This has resulted in disjoint systems and inefficient processes, impacting patient experience, patient engagement and hence the quality of care.
A clean slate approach to an integrated technology platform designed specifically for the hybrid healthcare market is required. This is a rapidly emerging global need.
Merago Inc. Mountain View, California
(A digital healthcare company building the next generation hybrid healthcare solutions)