Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak during the first quarter of 2020, accessing information about healthcare has almost been exclusively through media sources such as television and the Internet. With the virus putting a pause on mamy outdoor activities, it has also caused a change in the way people access medical information aside from COVID-19. With lockdowns in place all over the world, mobility has greatly been lessened with outdoor trips restricted to only those of utmost importance. While health should be the top priority during these times, it should be no surprise to find that in this new era of healthcare, medical websites have received much more traffic as patients and practitioners are “embracing” these.
According to Kristin Ficery, Accenture’s Managing Director for Consulting, Health Lead, “virtual care skyrocketed overnight.” As more and more people are putting their faith in online sources for answers to their medical concerns, it is important that as health care providers, you are able to rise to the occasion and meet those needs and create the future patient experience.
Innovation During the Pandemic Era
“The good thing that came out of that was innovation,” says chief medical officer and senior vice president of Southwestern Health Resources, Dr. Jason Fish, MD. He shared that there was truly a delay in care being given which resulted in delays in diagnosis and even causing death. The healthcare system, initially rooted in the traditional face-to-face appointments, had to adapt and take on new online innovations, tools, and solutions. Such tools are medical websites and applications which feature online waiting rooms, which could let you check in from your car, eliminating waiting rooms, or remote patient monitoring which allows patients to keep in touch with their doctors from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Sara Heath of Patient Engagement Hit Xtelligent Healthcare Media shares that these innovations “made up the lion’s share of the conversation.”
According to research, patients have enjoyed virtual care and medical websites so much that 60% would like to continue using these resources even post-pandemic. 9 out of 10 patients said that the quality of care was “as good or better” than before COVID-19 according to Accenture. They should feel confident as more and more medical practitioners are seeing telehealth and at-home care as something that will play big roles in patient experience moving forward. It has been pointed out that though those in the medical field agree that technology will be playing a big role, it cannot fill the “interpersonal connection” that traditional only health care can provide. Chrissy Daniels, MS, the chief experience officer at Press Ganey shares that throughout the pandemic, people really were able to see firsthand the commitment of medical professionals and frontliners, and that it is likely not to be forgotten.
Pros and Cons for All Parties Concerned
With many people sharing their positive feedback towards at-home care, telemedicine, and medical websites, there surely must be a reason behind this. Lockdowns and travel restrictions aside, there are a few obvious benefits for patients.
Take a look at these benefits listed by Medical News Today:
- Lower Costs
- Improved Access to Care
- Preventive Care
- Slowing the spread of infection
It is important to remember that these pros do come with cons. One of these is that there is a time and place wherein these alternative solutions may be recommended but they are not permanent solutions. It should also be mentioned that not all online sources may be credible. According to Canopy Health, plenty of online sources are “inaccurate, outdated, and biased.” Patients may not always be able to tell what is true, up to date, or subjective when there are so many differing sources accessible to them online. This can even lead to unnecessary anxiety towards what may possibly be something simple.
Always remember that telemedicine, medical websites, and similar online sources will never be able to replace a face-to-face appointment with your medical provider or a professional doctor.