After the COVID-19 Pandemic: Healthcare’s New Normal 

 

Restrictions are starting to be lifted. Businesses are reopening and folks are beginning to venture out into society. In healthcare, we are starting to see patients face to face again and scheduling elective surgeries. With all this, we are hearing a lot about the new state of normal in our country. What does this new state of normal mean for healthcare?

What Is The Future Of Telehealth?

This is one genie that will likely never go back into its bottle. Telehealth is here to stay. Providers and patients have become more comfortable with delivering and receiving care through telehealth over the past few months.

Providers offering telehealth as an option will have a competitive edge from those not offering telehealth services.

Rural Health Clinics may have a challenge offering telehealth services in the future. HHS/CMS implemented a temporary billing code during the emergency yet we are still awaiting word on whether or not the telehealth billing will extend beyond the public health emergency. It is undeniable that rural health providers would greatly benefit from the option telehealth services bring to their patients and communities.

Penalties For HIPAA Non-Compliance To Resume

The Office for Civil Rights released multiple waivers to help ease the burden of HIPAA while we were in the throes of the pandemic. Now that we are emerging from the crisis, we must ensure our HIPAA compliance remains intact.

Of the waivers that were granted, only one was an unrestricted waiver that could have long lasting implications for healthcare providers after the crisis, that is permitting non-HIPAA compliant telehealth technologies. Although this waiver is still active, it will not remain active once the state of emergency has been lifted. Providers that have adopted non-HIPAA compliant technologies need to plan for migrating to HIPAA secure and compliant platforms. The first place to start is with your EMR company. Some EMRs either have a native telehealth platform or they have partnerships with secure telehealth companies which integrate into the EMR.  

Will Remote Workers Permanently Stay Remote?

Hospitals and clinics, in an effort to flatten the curve, required some of their staff to work remotely. The benefits of remote work are numerous from employee satisfaction to employer financial savings. Providers will need to evaluate whether or not to continue with remote workers.

Employers offering this option to employees may have a competitive hiring edge from those that are not offering remote work. Most non-clinical operations can be facilitated remotely. If you want to continue to have employees work remotely you will need to ensure your systems support them in a HIPAA compliant manner.

8 Simple Steps To A Touch-Free Patient Experience

Patients don’t want to touch public surfaces. And as normal movement starts to resume, concerns over shared spaces and devices will stay top of mind. 

Download “Keeping our Distance: Touch-free Solutions for Patient Management” to learn the 8 easy steps you can take to create a touch-free patient experience

 

What Happens To Patient Access To Care?

Our unemployment numbers will likely remain at record numbers for quite some time. This means more Americans without insurance. A portion of them will be able to purchase COBRA insurance through their former employers, purchase insurance on the exchange, or qualify for Medicaid. Many, however, may become uninsured. Uninsured patients place a strain on our healthcare resources, especially those with chronic diseases. We will need to adapt in order to care for these patients and reduce the burden on our resources.

Adopting your business model to include provisions for how you will continue to care for your uninsured patients is of utmost importance. Your goal should be to maintain their care, assist them to enroll in available insurance options and therefore protect the long-term financial health of your patients and your practice or hospital.

Telehealth could be an option to help you maintain the care of your existing patients that find themselves suddenly uninsured. Telehealth services may be more cost effective for the patient and the provider.

Not only are these patients going to struggle with gaining access to providers to receive care, they will struggle to afford their medications. Working with companies that offer assistance in obtaining needed medications can help alleviate this real concern. Our responsibilities are for the health of our communities – physically, emotionally and financially.

To learn more about Azalea Health’s integrated, HIPAA compliant telehealth platform visit www.azaleahealth.com/solutions/telehealth

Author:

Sarah Badahman, MPH, CHPSE, CEO and Founder of HIPAAtrek

 

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