Virtual Care & Services

How COVID-19 Has Affected the Healthcare Industry

Prem Sharma
March 22, 2021

Changes in Post-Surgery Care

Since the onset of COVID-19, the way that both hospitals and patients approach surgeries has changed. In the past, doctors would keep patients at the hospital for longer after their procedure to manage risk. With COVID-19, there is an additional risk factor. Doctors now have to find a balance between keeping patients at the hospital to manage risk and sending them home to reduce their exposure to COVID-19.

With this new risk factor in the equation, doctors are realizing that they can start discharging patients much earlier than they used to. Patients’ perspectives have also changed, and they now want to be in and out of the hospital as quickly as possible while still receiving the best care possible. In addition, patients don’t want to go to the hospital for appointments unless necessary.

In general, hospitals and doctors are re-evaluating the traditional healthcare system and paying closer attention to the necessity of being physically present during each step of the care journey. On top of posing an added health risk for patients, COVID-19 has started to stretch hospital resources thin with medical staff being pulled onto COVID-19 floors to provide extra support. Because of this, hospitals have been looking into alternative options to physical appointments that would offer them increased efficiency to do the same things with less staff, as well as allow them to manage their patients from outside of the hospital.

1. Changes in Receptiveness to Remote Care

Remote care occurs when someone who is not physically present with a patient monitors and takes care of them. It has always been a necessity, especially for acute care patients with mobility problems, but patients have only recently become more open and receptive to it as they look for alternatives to in-person care.

Before COVID-19, doctors relied on the convenience of having patients come to them. They did not have a strong enough motivation to transition to remote care, even if it may have been easier for the patient. Because of this, doctors never dedicated the time and resources into finding clinical-grade remote care tools until COVID-19 essentially forced them to. Both doctors and patients have now become more open and receptive to remote care, and certain aspects of care that traditionally took place in hospitals (e.g. monitoring EKG levels) are now taking place in patients’ homes remotely.

Overall, the question around remote care has shifted from if patients should use remote care, to when remote care will be more widely used.

2. Changes in Remote Care Reimbursements

Prior to COVID-19, there wasn’t much incentive for insurance companies to cover remote care visits. However, insurance companies are now largely responsible for providing COVID-19 care coverage and naturally, they are discouraged from sending COVID-19 patients to hospitals unless necessary. This has led insurance companies to re-examine their policies for reimbursing remote visits and to expand the scope of their coverage to include virtual COVID-19 care.

Besides, COVID-19 has made preventative healthcare a more common consideration among insurance providers. When a patient goes to the hospital to receive COVID-19 care, they are automatically admitted for 15 days, even if they are asymptomatic. This 15-day inpatient stay is an enormous expense for insurance companies, and this has caused them to think more about how to promote preventative care and remote care.

3. Changes in the Role Patients’ Families Play

Because many people have been spending an increased amount of time with their families during COVID-19, they have begun to rely more on their families for support. For individuals undergoing both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related health problems, their families are around and available at a much greater capacity than they would have been before the pandemic. In addition, there is more incentive for families to take on the role of caretaker during COVID-19 and prevent external individuals (e.g. home care providers, nurses, etc.) from constantly going in and out of the home.

The increased role that families now play in patients’ care journeys has led to a need for patients’ families to receive additional education and guidance on how they can best care for and support the patient, which is where DayToDay comes in. DayToDay was designed with principles of how to educate patients’ families in mind. It allows patients’ families to create their accounts and receive educational materials, information on patients’ needs, and support via DayToDay medical staff.

4. Changes in Access to Healthcare Content

Since the start of COVID-19, mobile technology adoption for healthcare purposes has increased significantly. People rely heavily on the Internet to stay informed on everything related to COVID-19 news, symptoms, and studies. Because of this, COVID-19 content has become more accessible than traditional healthcare content in that it is offered in various languages - including regional dialects - and is generally written in easily digestible and understandable language.

5. Changes in Organizational Health at Enterprise Companies

COVID-19 heavily affected workforce management, specifically in regard to organizational health. Enterprise companies now have to figure out how to track both individual employee health and overall organizational health to determine whether they should open their physical offices, and if so, who to allow into the workspace.

This has led to a broader change in enterprise companies making employee health a higher priority. These companies are now looking beyond COVID-19 and into other important aspects of organizational health, such as mental health. Instead of offering healthcare as an extra benefit, enterprises have begun to actively monitor employee health and play a more hands-on role.

6. Changes in Hospitals’ Business Models

While COVID-19 has forced hospitals to undergo significant changes in the ways that they operate, these changes have opened up new channels for hospitals to make additional revenue and to drive down costs. Currently, hospitals operate predominantly under a fee-for-service model where patients are charged for in-person visits. Now, hospitals have the openness and opportunity to explore different touchpoints, such as virtual care, and they have begun to rethink their business models and explore new revenue opportunities.

7. Changes in Mental Health Care

COVID-19 COVID-19 has had severe effects on the mental health of the general population, and it has opened up the conversation around mental health - especially in countries where mental health has historically been a taboo topic. Given this shift that has brought mental health to the forefront of conversations around healthcare, hospitals have begun to consider offering integrated care between physical and mental health.

How Patients Drive Hospital Decisions

In general, hospitals are not incentivized to offer patients remote visits. Hospitals make a significantly higher amount of money for in-person appointments than for remote visits, so they have little incentive outside of COVID-19 to treat patients remotely.

However, in the healthcare industry, patients drive many of the trends, innovations, and changes. If patients decided to stop going to hospitals for in-person visits, hospitals would have to adjust their business model to accommodate patients’ behaviors.

In the context of COVID-19, patients have been the main drivers of innovation as clinicians have had no choice but to make changes to keep up with the needs and behavioral changes of patients.

How Healthcare Will Change in the Future

Healthcare has already begun to expand beyond physical touch into the virtual realm, and there is a high probability that it will continue to do so. In the short term, there is a chance that healthcare will become more expensive as healthcare providers experiment with new technologies, business models, and systems. However, after the basics of virtual healthcare become more solidified, costs will decrease significantly. In the same way that technology becomes cheaper every day, virtual healthcare will also become cheaper in the future.

DayToDay’s Role in Remote Care

DayToDay offers comprehensive medical service centered around understanding the needs of patients with a high level of granularity. DayToDay assists patients through the entirety of their care journey and dedicates a significant amount of time to each patient with around the clock support, daily check-ins, and more. Because of the extra time DayToDay spends with each patient remotely, their knowledge and understanding of patients’ needs far exceed that of in-person hospitals.

In a nutshell, DayToDay is essentially a medically qualified extension of a patient’s family who knows everything about the patient, and is also able to take care of them and assist other parties, such as hospitals, with taking care of the patient.

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