Bringing Healthcare Closer to Home

Welcome to the future of healthcare delivery! Patient-centered care is no longer just a buzzword but a reality engaging patients in health monitoring and data-driven decision-making. Primary care at pharmacies, ambulatory services, remote nursing jobs, and telehealth bring healthcare closer to home. 

Technology Enables More Patient Engagement

Hasn’t the patient always been the purpose and focus of nursing and healthcare? Isn’t it all about the patient? Of course, the difference now is that technology allows the staff to consciously engage the patients in monitoring their health, accessing their health information to understand the therapy, and not only in adherence to the treatment plan. And the pandemic shook the world and forced us to advance in telehealth and other delivery options. 

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Hospitals Can Improve Access to Care

How can hospitals provide better access to healthcare? How do people receive healthcare in 2023? Three overarching and influential trends are gaining momentum and are due to bring undeniable improvements (and challenges) to healthcare delivery systems.

Patient Access to Their EHRs, Developing Transparency

Developing transparency and empowering personal responsibility are prime elements of a sustainable healthcare system for future generations. In hospitals and clinics from coast to coast, patient access to their electronic health records (EHRs) is likely to become an integral part of healthcare systems. It can lower the cost of healthcare, upgrade access to and use of healthcare data, promote self-care and patient engagement, and improve patient outcomes. 

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woman at home on laptop checking healthcare informtion
Patients are now able to access their medical records online.

In 2019, only 10% of patients with online access to their EHRs had actually logged in to see it. Up through 2022 and into 2023, patient access has been steadily increasing. However, there are still challenges to using and benefitting from this information, including technical barriers, security concerns, health literacy (understanding the medical vocabulary used in the data), and language barriers. 

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However, private and public healthcare sectors are actively promoting the use of EHRs and patient access to this information. Now in 2023 and for the second year in a row, the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM) Top of Mind for Health Systems report shows that health information technology (HealthIT) investments will prioritize patient engagement with secure online websites, called portals that give patients 24-hour access to personal health information, as well as access to health care, including options for virtual care. 

As for the government, the first three priorities of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for 2023 support patient access to their electronic health information, namely:

  • Promoting information-sharing among providers, patients, and other healthcare services using internet-based technologies.
  • Building on federal investments in electronic health records to enhance access to, exchange, and use of electronic health information, ultimately improving the quality, equity, safety, efficiency, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare in the US.
  • Enabling an open health IT ecosystem ensures a level playing field for innovation and competition to support health IT users, including patients.

The benefits of EHRs have become more apparent and accepted due to the increased use of telehealth services driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now telehealth is continuing to expand both in coverage and quality. If you have any concerns regarding the cybersecurity of your facility – read the article mentioned below:

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Telehealth as a Major Option for Healthcare Delivery

What is telehealth? In its article on telehealth in 2023, Nursa explains this form of healthcare and the corresponding nursing specialty. 

Telehealth is a remote healthcare form encompassing telemedicine, digital health, and virtual care. This mode of healthcare delivery uses messaging, video and audio conferencing, and wearable or remote monitoring devices connected to systems with artificial intelligence that inform clinicians with data and analysis. Patients can now access medical advice and care more efficiently, even submitting questions via online portals. Additionally, telehealth includes online provider training and administrative services. 

Is Telehealth a Permanent Part of the Healthcare Landscape

Is telehealth here to stay? Before 2020, telehealth comprised less than 1% of US healthcare, but the pandemic changed everything. Over half of the physicians have used telehealth for the first time since then. In subsequent research, 85% say it increased timely care, 75% indicate that it allows them to deliver high-quality care, and over 70% plan to increase telehealth use

The American Medical Association’s (AMA) VP of digital health innovations states, “Telehealth is here to stay… It’s not whether telehealth will be offered, but how best to offer telehealth services as we move toward what we’re terming digitally enabled care….”

In a January 2023 publication, AMA predicts that more capital will flow to innovators in digital health solutions.

Primary Care at Pharmacies and other Ambulatory Services

One of the various modes of healthcare delivery is ambulatory care, which is growing, comprising one-third of provider revenues, close to $750 billion, according to McKinsey & Company. This mode includes services from primary care at pharmacies to ambulatory surgical centers. Studies have shown that mobile care settings can provide advantages for patients and healthcare systems, such as shorter average visit times and lower complication rates. Primary care at pharmacies can take some pressure off of urgent care in the emergency room. 

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Hospital and Inpatient Care Remain Fundamental

Hospitals and inpatient settings will remain fixtures for more acute care situations while ambulatory and homecare increase.

Of course, while clinic care and inpatient hospital stays will be needed for more complex challenges, patients, physicians, and institutions are seeing the benefits of ambulatory care options. 

Ambulatory Care on the Rise

Medicare and Medicaid have now removed 255 of the 267 codes that were added to its Ambulatory Surgical Center Covered Procedure List in 2021. Ambulatory and outpatient healthcare settings are expected to grow more than 5% annually from 2021 to 2025.

Hospitals work to become even more patient-centered in at least three transformative ways: 

  • Encouraging patients to access their EHRs, engaging them with information and knowledge of their health and therapy at their fingertips. 
  • Expanding their telehealth services into many more homes.
  • Creating joint ventures with ambulatory surgery centers instead of seeing them as competition. 
  • This is the age of connection and collaboration.

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