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How COVID-19 Impacted Timeliness of Care

Doctor checking heartbeat of a young patient

There’s a lot that goes into a healthcare consumer getting the right care they need. A big part of it is the timing in which they receive care, which is dependent on when the patient reaches out to their provider. It also is dependent on the provider’s current capacity and availability.

Normally, the impact on when patients receive care isn’t as critical, but coronavirus turned the concept upside down. It will take years to repair the damage, but the healthcare industry likely won’t see the entire impact for a while.

Here’s what our customers and many providers are grappling with due to COVID-19.

Varying Patient Volumes

After the pandemic began, many patients delayed care due to fears of getting coronavirus and costs. Primary care doctors weren’t seeing many patients and hospitals and urgent cares were primarily seeing COVID-19 patients, even as late as spring 2021.

As the pandemic wore on, more healthcare consumers returned to their health providers, increasing patient volumes and straining staff. And then with the rise of the delta variant, patients delayed their care again.

With ebbs and flows of COVID-19 cases, it’s hard for providers to provide the best care at the best time possible. This is especially problematic for patients with chronic illnesses, who need to visit their providers more frequently. If the patient volumes are too high or if the patient is unable to meet with a specialized doctor, it could result in negative health outcomes.

Burnout

Physicians, doctors and nurses are worn down and unfortunately, it’s made good care harder to come by. Burnout leads to medical errors, which are already too common, and healthcare workers are leaving the profession altogether. This spirals into a problem where other healthcare workers are having to take on more work than before, intensifying the desire to leave the profession and make mistakes. The losers in this situation are patients because it makes it much harder to get the right care they need at the right time.

Affordability

At the beginning of the pandemic, many people lost their jobs and with it, their health insurance. This led to many healthcare consumers forgoing their healthcare needs, resulting in higher rates of chronic conditions and cancers.

And while some patients have returned to their primary care, there are still many either without health insurance or are having a hard time being able to afford care due to higher medical costs.

Lack of Resources

It’s difficult to get care in a timely way when there are fewer specialty healthcare workers and technological tools than before. PPE shortages in 2020 were only the beginning. Now, providers are facing shortages on other critical supplies dues to supply chain issues stemming from the pandemic.

Other than equipment, the other most valuable resource is healthcare workers, which are in short supply after being burnout and overworked for months.

These are just some of the areas coronavirus has affected timeliness of care. There are likely others, many of which haven’t come to light yet, but understanding these gaps and addressing them will help providers improve long-standing issues that likely weren’t visible prior to the pandemic. 

Automation of certain staff responsibilities, such as appointment scheduling, reminders and registration, post-visit follow-up, patient payments and collections follow-up and even marketing can relieve much of this pressure, address short-term labor shortages and enable efficiencies for years to come. 

The PatientBond digital patient engagement platform can automate dozens of these processes and not only solve the issue of limited resources but also deliver a remarkable Return On Investment. More than 100 healthcare provider customers at nearly 1,400 locations are relying on PatientBond to automate and streamline their patient engagement processes.

Contact us today to learn more about how our insights can help you engage with patients and retain them.

 



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