By this point, most of us have become used to “contactless” delivery of products and services. Sure, we can still get our groceries or Chinese takeout brought to our door, but these days the delivery person leaves our things on our porch or outside our door. We may get a call, text or email message from those bringing the goods, but in most cases we never even see their face.
The same is happening with digital check in at healthcare organizations as well as many other areas of healthcare. One healthcare service that seems to be undergoing a similar transformation is medical record requests. While I’ve only encountered one vendor doing this to date, I suspect that they have competition, or if not they will soon.
The vendor I’m speaking about is Ciox, which uses technology to help providers fulfill, deliver and track requests for medical records without any physical contact with the patient. Its HealthSource Patient Request platform allows patients to ask for their medical records via a provider’s website and get instructions on how to retrieve those records electronically. The system then kicks out an email message which contains a link allowing the patient to get the records when they become available.
HealthSource also offers an aggregated statistical dashboard on the system’s back end allowing providers to track key metrics such as the volume of patient requests over time. This will be useful not only in determining whether patients are using the service, but also demonstrating to CMS that patients indeed have access to their health information in a timely manner.
After all, if patients complain to the agency that you aren’t doing a good job of giving patients access to their records, the data gathered by the dashboard could help to demonstrate that you’re on top of the issue.
That being said, when you look at the issue, delivering medical records is just one of many things providers can do to avoid needless patient contact. And any progress you can make not only helps you manage COVID-19 cases, but also to streamline and ramp up your digital health efforts.
One obvious example of this trend is the long-term expansion of your telehealth efforts. Obviously, telehealth systems can deliver many healthcare services effectively without having patients see their provider in the flesh in most cases.
Not only that, are doubtless many other ways in which your organization can offer contactless options. For example, if you run an onsite pharmacy, you can set up the process to make contact with patients only when professionals are wearing full protective gear, and in other situations offer medication entirely by mail.
The extent to which you take this approach will depend on how your administrative process works, how flexible your HIT infrastructure is and how providers feel about having a long-term hands-off relationship with patients. However, in virtually every case there are probably some ways in which you can introduce contactless care and technology that address the need to keep patients from getting infected with the virus.
The bottom line is that it’s time to accept that COVID-19 has changed the way providers look at many processes they use to deliver care. This isn’t a bad thing, but it will require some adaptions. Now is a good time to explore your contactless options.