If the healthcare industry itself was a patient, the prognosis might be grim. Becker’s Hospital Review warns that hospitals are facing their worst fiscal reckoning in decades, with hundreds of potential closings on the way. There is also a global labor shortage, a spike in mental health issues, and aging populations that will further stress already-taxed systems.
To compensate, healthcare delivery is tilting toward more technology – apps, wearables, AI, remote monitoring equipment, etc. – and reshaping the paradigm for practitioners and patients alike. What innovation lacks in bedside manner is made up for in speed, more accurate records, and a means of bridging the access divide. There is also the hangover of the Covid pandemic, which disrupted essential services and eroded trust in the public health establishment.
What Lies Ahead
A rapid transformation is underway to rebuild confidence, provide more cost-effective solutions, and improve outcomes.
Telemedicine: virtual visits became commonplace during the height of the Covid pandemic, and like remote work in the traditional office, this is a development that is sticking. For context, less than 15% of doctors could engage in virtual visits in 2016; the number had jumped to 80% by 2022.
Digital Prescription Records: this helps to reduce human error in interpreting which medications a patient may need or is taking and how the different drugs interact. The digital approach also represents tremendous savings in the time required to process paperwork and the costs of storing hard copies.
Value-Based Care: under this system, providers are paid based on outcomes, not the volume of patients they see or the number of treatments they prescribe. This model could be invaluable in addressing the spending issue by spreading the risk across multiple parties rather than off-loading the cost to patients and their insurance carriers.
AI & Machine Learning: no list of technology innovations would be complete without these two components. The pair can be used to spot patterns, analyze data, and even provide guidance on personalized care plans. One company developed a system using AI in ultrasound scans to identify potential heart failure; the technology can be non-specialists, too, making it more affordable and accessible.
Two other developments are also making headway. The first is retail care, which, as the name implies, has merchants such as Walmart, CVS, and Amazon offering blood tests, vaccinations, and other services traditionally hosted in clinical settings. The second is the clinical solutions app for appointment setting, information exchanges among practitioners, and easy communication between patients and providers. The app can also be used to set reminders, contact professionals in an emergency, and make payments.
Facing the Challenges
There is no way to sugarcoat the existing fiscal pressures, and single-payer is not necessarily the answer. If current trends hold, more than half of the US population will have government-sponsored or subsidized coverage. Globally, where nationalized care is often the norm, systems are feeling a similar pinch as people live longer, and the demand for service outpaces the available supply of providers and facilities.
Issues go beyond money, however, beginning with cybersecurity. With more patient data stored digitally, the risk is obvious. The average data breach costs more than $10 million; attacks are happening more often and are larger. The single-largest hack involved nearly 80 million records and cost more than $100 million. Even as technology allows for cost-containment and greater efficiencies, it can be a double-edged sword:
The sheer volume of data grows with each patient, each treatment, each appointment, and each new procedure. Not every hospital has upgraded its legacy systems, creating problems ranging from misdiagnosing issues to missed appointments to failing to appropriately monitor patients.
When data volume is not well-managed, then data sharing becomes a spin-off concern. Medical mistakes are already the third-leading cause of death in the US after cancer and heart disease. Inaccurate data transfers risk patient health, impact administrative costs, potentially spawn lawsuits, and damage clinical reputations.
Ineffective supply management systems are the third leg on this stool. Most of us do not consider the behind-the-scenes work involved in procuring equipment and supplies, handling inventory of medicines, and preventing shrinkage, but that adds to the overall cost while also impacting the quality of care.
While a digital transformation can rectify those issues, the patient experience remains an ongoing work in progress. Telemedicine may well address issues of timely appointments, shorter waits, and direct contact with a practitioner, but the system cannot rely purely on virtual interactions. Packed schedules often mean doctors engage in revolving door patient care, and that’s for the patients not consigned to seeing a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. Those two fields have become prominent in recent years, with higher levels of training producing more skilled providers, but still, “going to the doctor” does not necessarily mean seeing a doctor.
Where We Fit
The further adoption of technology and the rise of telemedicine, combined with the faster speeds of 5G, cloud computing, and AI, creates a more complex environment that spills over to make customer care issues more intricate. Our client list includes companies in the healthcare space. We look for process efficiencies and issues such as scalability to handle growth, flexibility for managing peak demand, and addressing needs that most industries face:
People: support is labor-intensive; we are designed to handle service and support inquiries efficiently over multiple channels
Money: outsourcing service and support is usually less expensive than hiring internal personnel, plus the cost is predictable
Technology: the pace of innovation can be daunting; it often makes more sense to outsource certain activities while dedicating internal resources to ensuring infrastructure can support new development
We provide the panoply of customer care: technical and general support, appointment setting, call-backs, and other patient-facing tasks. In addition, we provide back-office process management, which can be administrative or technical. In either case, we track metrics in real time, engage in one-to-one conversations with consumers that yield grass-roots information, and analyze the findings to spot trends and help you avoid potential issues.
As a tech-forward company, GlowTouch is dedicated to providing exceptional customer experiences by leveraging the right people, channels, locations, processes, and technologies. Our personalized omnichannel contact center, back-office processing, and technology outsourcing solutions are tailored to meet the unique needs of clients worldwide. As a certified WBENC Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) and NMSDC Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), we take pride in our diverse workforce. Our commitment to operational excellence and high-touch engagement has earned us recognition from renowned organizations such as Everest Group, the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), and six-time inclusion on the Inc. 5000 list. Headquartered in Louisville, KY, we have a global presence with onshore contact centers in Louisville, Miami, FL, and San Antonio, TX, a nearshore center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and offshore locations in Mangalore, Bangalore, Mysore, India, and Manila, Philippines. To learn more about how we can help you achieve your business goals, visit www.GlowTouch.com, or email Tammy Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.