It's different now
The world has changed a lot over the last two years, after an unthinkable pandemic has forced everyone to re-evaluate how work gets done, how services are delivered and how we live life in a more distributed and de-centralized way. Very few of us would have predicted that the degree of work-at-home which we have seen in the last 12 months would do anything but fail miserably and crash the economy. But even though it was difficult, it was actually possible. And some good things came out of it - the nay-sayers will be quiet for a little while.
The shift towards more home-based healthcare services is on.
More home-based work, more food and grocery deliveries, more digital services, less physical presence and less travel - even moving about within your local community has changed. The digitalization of our daily lives has picked up pace and we are adjusting. Healthcare is no different, and we all expect a much different model of engagement with the healthcare delivery systems. In fact, healthcare is just following the trajectory set by many other industries such as banking, shopping, travel, news, social connections and even governmental services. When was the last time you visited a bank or visited a travel agent in person? Even many governmental services are now only provided digitally. Digitalization allows for personalization, and personalization allows for decentralization.
Why would healthcare be any different?
The pace of change is increasing
It is no secret that the pandemic was a shock to the system which has provoked more progress in remote healthcare in 12 months than was achieved in the last 2 decades. The healthcare industry is catching up with new regulations and reimbursement codes which allow providers and patients to put new technology and digital workflows. Speaking from the patient's point of view I like it. I have come to realize that it is possible to demand a more convenient and safe way to interact with my doctor for a variety of topics, and my doctor is having the same realization. The confluence of modern tools and technology, new procedures and receptiveness to digitalization lets us see things through a different lens.
The established model of patients traveling to big central healthcare facilities where they self-sort through a confusing system is so well accepted that it's difficult to envision a different way. At Infiniwell we observe that the ground is already shifting and the move towards more distributed healthcare will not reverse.
That omelette will not become eggs again, as one colleague remarked.
I am sure everyone agrees that this shift is happening, and perhaps also appreciate how the pace of change has quickened. So with the observation in mind that healthcare is becoming more distributed quicker than expected, the question to healthcare providers is:
Are you ready for a decentralized healthcare delivery model?
If the answer is not a confident "yes, and here is why ..." then you will need to work hard to catch up just to get to the starting line.
Big effort in small steps
An industry transformation doesn't happen all at once overnight, but takes small steps and patience. Figuring out how to reach patients at home, how to diagnose and follow up patients without physically seeing them, understanding how to properly bill for services, and most of all be confident that the patient-physician relationship continues to be strong can seem daunting.
Sustainable change happens when we start small and build step by step. Find one way to get started with a new service delivery model. Build confidence by achieving some small success with low-risk services, such as post-visit patient follow up using digital technology or perhaps a home monitoring kit to allow patients to self-monitor and report certain parameters.
Get your training wheels on and build confidence. Then take the next step.
One thing is for sure, when healthcare is able to meet the patient at home, patient engagement increases along with opportunity for early intervention.
Start where we are today
Embracing a distributed healthcare model does not mean scrapping existing systems. New modes of delivering healthcare must co-exist and gradually phase in to augment and complement existing systems before replacing anything. At Infiniwell we recognize that evolution builds on what is already in place, and we can only establish trust if we understand and utilize what already works. We aim to be the adapter between today's working systems and the tools of tomorrow.
So... are you ready for the already-started decentralization of healthcare?