What will make asynchronous virtual care a common reality?

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What will make asynchronous virtual care a common reality?
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People have wholeheartedly embraced asynchronous communication around the globe. In business and social circles, communicating with tools such as text messaging, Google Docs and Slack is now par for the course.

So it’s not surprising that the demand for asynchronous healthcare experiences – telemedicine delivered as the store-and-forward transmission of medical images and data over a period of time – is running high.[1] Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH, the founder of Sherpaa, a pioneering virtual care provider acquired by Crossover Health in 2019, recently sat down with Jonah Comstock, Editor-in-Chief of HIMSS Media, to discuss what needs to change to make asynchronous care more commonplace. During the HIMSS TV interview, Parkinson pointed to the following four changes as precursors to the more widespread adoption of asynchronous care:

1. Doctors need to acknowledge that the traditional patient-doctor relationship is becoming a thing of the past. “Healthcare has always been about that synchronous scheduled appointment in the office, and now more commonly the scheduled video visit,” Parkinson said.

This patient-doctor relationship, which is built on real-time conversations, however, is no longer the cornerstone of healthcare. “The new generation of patients who are digital natives are saying, ‘I want access and I want convenience. I don’t really care about the relationship.’ So doctors need to rethink who they are and what they do,” he said. And they need to let go of the concept “that the patient-doctor relationship is the most important thing in healthcare.” 

2. Healthcare organizations (HCOs) need to rely on new tools that support team-based virtual care. With the need for virtual collaboration among clinicians and patients rising to the top, HCOs no longer can solely depend on traditional technologies such as EMRs, which are typically built around real-time appointments. “The EMR really doesn’t [support] a paradigm for asynchronous communication beyond old-fashioned email messaging. So it really is going to take a new suite of tools for physicians and their teams [to support asynchronous communication with patients],” Parkinson pointed out.

More specifically, HCOs need innovative technologies that enable virtual collaboration. “These tools should be team-based, similar to how Slack functions,” he added.

3. HCOs need to embrace multiple forms of care delivery. Patients are increasingly demanding that providers use the right form of care delivery for the problem at hand. “Consumers are going to look at their problem and look for a solution and, whatever solution resonates with them most, they’re going to choose that. Whatever can happen online will, and whatever needs to be happening in-person will,” Parkinson explained.

For example, if a patient has a broken bone, an in-person visit in an ER or urgent care center would be required. However, if a patient has a skin condition, asynchronous communication with a dermatologist might be most beneficial.

4. Payers need to rethink reimbursement. Currently, providers most commonly get paid for in-person office or real-time video visits. Payers, however, need to offer equitable reimbursement for other modes of care delivery. One way to achieve this equity is for payers to offer capitated payments to take care of patient populations. As a result, providers would choose the most effective care delivery mode for each individual situation, and, therefore, more commonly adopt asynchronous care, Parkinson concluded.

To watch the entire interview with Dr. Parkinson and see how the asynchronous care model fits with the virtual care paradigm, visit HIMSS TV/Ontrak.

Reference

[1]. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2021. Telemedicine glossary. https://www.aaaai.org/practice-resources/running-your-practice/practice-….

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