As we hopefully head out of COVID or at least incorporate the realities of COVID into life, it is time to look forward and see how the pandemic changed things and what practices should be focusing on as they look to the future. Here are my predictions of the big changes coming to practices and what you will need to do in your practice to stay ahead of the curve.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) – If you are not already looking at how you can do this with your patients, you are missing out. There are all sorts of apps, devices, sensors, etc., that you can use to change your relationship with the patient. In medical practices, the CCM (Chronic Care Management) program is a great place to start since it has real dollars tied to it and can benefit from great RPM technology. RPM is a huge opportunity to extend your relationship beyond the visit to your practice. If you are not considering how you can have an ongoing relationship with your patients, you are going to fall behind.
Communication Is King – Related to RPM, creating a communication channel with your patients is going to be the most important thing you do going forward. We learned during COVID how important it was to be able to communicate timely information with patients. Those organizations that did not have a channel of communication in place were at a disadvantage. Now these types of proactive communications from practices are an expectation. Those practices that do not do this will lose patients. Plus, this channel prepares you for whatever value-based reimbursement comes in the future.
Proactive Patients – Patients have become more connected and proactive in their care for a while. Certainly, many who are feeling healthy won’t be proactive patients. However, those patients who do need care and have something that needs attention will be extremely proactive in who they go to for that care. Patients now have multiple choices and a plethora of easily accessible information available to them to be able to choose the type of care, modality of care, and quality of experience they want to enjoy. High-deductible plans will drive many of these proactive choices as patients stop relying on insurance to make their decisions for them.
Voice Technology – We will look back at 2022 as the year voice really took off in healthcare. On the doctor or dentist side of things, this is going to take the form of ambient clinical voice which automates clinical documentation. Plus, instead of searching your records for the data you want with a bunch of clicks, doctors will be able to ask their EHR “Graph the last 5 lab results for Stevie Jones” and they’ll be presented with the graph. On the patient side of things, voice will be used for remote patient monitoring, but it will also allow patients to schedule appointments, get care, and obtain health information more easily.
Focus on Revenue Cycle – As many still deal with fluctuating revenue thanks to COVID, a focus on revenue cycle is going to be more important than ever. High-deductible plans have already forced practices to focus more efforts on patient collectibles. Improving those collectibles and streamlining the revenue cycle management process with payers is going to be essential to success in a practice. Plus, text-based payments are going to grow to become a substantial patient payment option for practices.
Rewards – New creative ways to motivate patients are going to come into play. One of the approaches which will become popular in 2022 is rewards. While some will be cash rewards to motivate good patient actions, experiential rewards will be implemented by many as well. These rewards will be an effort by practices to differentiate themselves from competitors and private equity firms that are investing in the space.
Personalization – Every interaction with a patient will start to benefit from personalization. The data is now available in healthcare to personalize the experience a patient has in your practice. This will create a uniquely personalized experience that benefits the patient. This will be particularly true in the way we communicate with patients. Whether it is understanding whether the patient prefers text, email, or a phone call or using data to identify what should be communicated to the patient, technology will allow us to personalize the experience for each patient.
Those are just a few of my predictions for practices and what they should be doing to prepare. As you can see, the overall prediction is that patients’ expectations are changing, and we need to adapt to those changes. The technology is there to meet patients’ expectations and practices will need to embrace those technologies in order to satisfy patients. Do you agree? What predictions would you add to the list?