Brand Story – How digital business strategies like telehealth can work to improve equitable access to services, boost efficiency and lessen traffic.
When COVID-19 hit, digital business solutions proved critical to maintaining service and business continuity across a broad spectrum of industries. The pandemic has revealed new possibilities for going beyond business as usual thought largely aspirational only months ago. The digital business evolution now taking place offers greater consumer access to all kinds of services, plus added business benefits, like boosting efficiency, and helping to reduce traffic.
For the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Assistant Director for Operations, Cooper Brown, “It comes down to the trip not taken. Fewer trips made helps reduce traffic congestion on Oregon’s roadways, plus those without access to reliable transportation, have mobility issues, or live some distance away have an alternative way to access services.” Cooper added, “Telehealth, in particular, is one example of the many potential benefits digital business solutions have to offer.”
Amid the rapid uptick in digital business adoption the explosive growth in telehealth stands out in scope and scale. Like many healthcare providers, Providence Health & Services in Oregon experienced a sizable spike, nearly 30%, in telehealth visits as it boosted its digital capacity to provide ongoing patient care at its clinics.
Providence was well into its journey of expanding virtual care prior to the pandemic. It had witnessed firsthand how telehealth could improve patient access to care, boost efficiency (including reducing patient wait times), and save lives. Providence’s trajectory had already included rolling out digital services, but the COVID-19 pandemic put those plans into motion with lightning speed.
“Over the past year we’ve encouraged clinics to provide visits by telephone. That was new for patients, payers and providers, and adoption can take time,” explains Dr. Linda Cruz, chief medical officer, Providence Medical Group. “But because we’d already built much of the infrastructure before COVID-19, we could ramp up more quickly.”
From tele-hospitalists to tele-oncology to tele-baby, Providence has leveraged virtual solutions for more than a decade to deliver all types of patient care particularly within smaller rural communities. Pilot programs enabled rapid rollout at a larger scale during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as increasing telehealth services became a top priority.
Providence leverages an array of fully integrated digital technologies and applications to deliver reliable and secure telehealth services. Patients can connect virtually, in real time, to physicians and specialists for everything from primary care to critical care to behavioral health. Most virtual visits are conducted via video to enhance the patient experience, and medical staff assist patients who need help learning how to use digital tools.
Even as it reinstates face-to-face care, Providence plans to continue finetuning and expanding telehealth because of its proven benefits. What that hybrid model will look like remains to be seen, but will be driven largely by patient demand. For example, thanks to telehealth, after-hour care could become a more feasible option.
“We’ll gather the bright spots and best practices from this experience and roll them out on a larger scale,” Cruz says. “As we become more proficient, we get more efficient. It’s one way we can keep the cost of care down and better serve patients.”
Brand stories are paid content articles that allow Oregon Business advertisers to share news about their organizations and engage with readers on business and public policy issues. The stories are produced in house by the Oregon Business marketing department. For more information, contact associate publisher Courtney Kutzman.