A hybrid healthcare system combines the best aspects of in-person and virtual visits. This approach can boost staff productivity, drive faster revenue cycles, and create a more rewarding patient experience. In this article, we’ll explore the hybrid healthcare system and how you can strike the optimal balance in your practice.
A hybrid healthcare system brings together the best of telehealth and in-person visits. Depending on the type of care a patient needs, providers can deliver care in person, virtually, or both.
Regardless of the method for delivering care, hybrid healthcare should be a seamless solution that treats telehealth as an integral part of the system rather than something additional or separate.
In hybrid care, providers and supporting staff rely heavily on technology for secure video conferencing, automatic appointment reminders, billing, and more. These elements apply to both in-person and virtual visits. Organizations can manage this through a sophisticated telehealth platform that integrates with their EMR and billing software.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was necessary for many providers to use telehealth to see their patients. As a result, the adoption of telehealth skyrocketed. The relaxation of state and federal regulations during the public health emergency also played a role in allowing providers to adopt these virtual practices more easily.
According to the AMA, researchers now estimate current telehealth adoption to be between 60% to 90%.
Many patients and professionals enjoy fully-remote access, but this trend won’t last forever. Some elements of healthcare require in-person visits, while some patients may simply prefer to meet their doctor face-to-face post-pandemic. This is where a hybrid healthcare system comes into play.
Like most sectors, healthcare saw a boom in remote work during the pandemic. Fifty-nine percent of medical group practices said they shifted workers to permanent and/or hybrid work in 2021.
For those working indirectly with patients (call centers, billing and coding, IT, accounting and HR), remote work became the norm. Yet those working in direct patient care (primary care offices) were still able to leverage technology to deliver care.
Nearly three years in, workers are adapting to having more healthy flexibility at work. Many workers report better overall well-being and improved productivity when working at home.
But some employers fear that remote work comes at a steep cost. These employers worry about company culture and losing top talent. Without office engagement, they fear employees may become dissatisfied and quit.
According to a recent Gallup poll, employees want remote work to stay. Ninety-one percent of workers in the U.S. working at least some of their hours remotely are hoping their ability to work at home persists after the pandemic. Just 6% said their ideal work environment was to be fully on-site.
The poll offers additional key insights. Those who prefer to work remotely value fewer distractions, improved wellness and flexibility offered by working remotely. The study shows that employees who prefer to work strictly from the office prioritize personal productivity, access to technology, and better opportunities for collaboration.
Furthermore, if an employee works from home, they are more likely to want a hybrid arrangement than either working from home full-time or on-site. Similarly, if the work can be done remotely, that is still preferable to being on-site full-time.
It’s clear that most of the current workforce wants some element of remote or hybrid care. Time preservation is key for remote workers, but there are many reasons for wanting to stay virtual. Some of the most common reasons for wanting to work partly or fully remote include:
As an organization, these priorities and expectations are important to consider when looking at the future of healthcare. In some cases, a return-to-office approach could drive employees to quit.
Sixty-four percent of the global workforce said that they have already, or would consider, looking for a new job if their employer wanted them back in the office full-time. And as an industry that was hard hit by the Great Resignation, many practices can’t afford to lose more employees.
The adoption of a patient engagement system can help create a desirable hybrid work environment. Here are just some of the ways a hybrid healthcare digital solution like Mend can help support remote work in your organization:
It’s no secret that manual paperwork and processes bog down medical staff. Organizations can reduce this burden and also support a remote work environment with a simple solution: automation.
Mend starts by integrating with your organization’s medical billing software. Once Mend detects an outstanding balance, the patient will receive an automated text or email with a secure link requesting payment. Mend alerts the billing software once payment is complete, removing all steps from your staff.
This process can be set up to occur seamlessly for both in-person and virtual visits.
In addition to reducing the burden on your staff, you can expect to see benefits in other areas as well. In one report, 64% of early adopters of hybrid healthcare patient engagement software saw increased collections. Twenty-seven percent saw reduced AR days.
With a fully remote or hybrid healthcare system, organizations can recruit staff from anywhere, helping to reduce stress and workload on current staff.
Providers and medical staff who prefer to work some days at home can benefit from a greater work-life balance. Due to convenient automation, fewer staff are needed to conduct virtual visits, and the visits are often faster than in-person appointments. With single-screen/multi-screen workflows, documentation can occur during the visit, saving more time.
Burnout and stress are among the top contributing factors for healthcare workers quitting their jobs. Organizations can leverage telehealth in this way to create a more favorable work environment for providers and staff to help reduce the risk of burnout.
With hybrid care, patient self-scheduling can be the new norm. Instead of staff members manually booking appointments over the phone, patients can simply navigate online and choose an appointment day and time that works best for them.
As a result, staff no longer have to be physically in an office space or call center to support patient scheduling. This also decreases the workload at the front desk, while also allowing for the redirection of labor. In 2021, 34% of patients self-scheduled with Mend.
If your organization is struggling with no-shows, self-scheduling is one important element that can help improve rates. Giving patients autonomy of their scheduling increases the likelihood of showing up for the visit. The organizations using Mend saw a 40-50% reduction in no-show rates for patient self-scheduled appointments.
(Learn more about key performance indicators, including no-show rates, for running a successful hybrid practice here.)
With hybrid care, digital forms are the future. It’s no longer necessary to rely on paper forms that can be easily misplaced. Digital forms can reduce errors and duplicates. There’s also no need to wait for patients to complete their forms on the day of their visit.
With a telehealth platform like Mend, patients can get a head start on their paperwork as soon as they schedule an appointment. Sixty-eight percent of Mend Digital Forms are completed within an hour, and Mend averages an 86% completion rate overall. Once the patient completes the forms, Mend can move the forms to the EHR automatically.
Automated appointment reminders save staff members from having to do manual labor over the phone. These reminders can be via text, email, and voice and adjust accordingly leading up to the appointment time.
For instance, if a patient has yet to confirm their appointment, the sequence will prompt the patient to confirm or reschedule their appointment. If a patient needs to reschedule or cancel, they have the option of following steps to do so. Bidirectional integration ensures full automation to eliminate manual labor and redirect efforts elsewhere.
This dynamic approach will help free up your staff’s time and support remote work. It can also reduce the loss of revenue secondary to no-shows.
RELATED: How to Optimize Patient Attendance and Reduce No-Shows in 2022
Despite the many benefits of hybrid care, it’s still a relatively new approach to patient care, and implementing it in your practice can feel daunting. Dr. Matthew Sakumoto, an Internal Medicine-trained physician offering a virtual-first primary care program, has some suggestions.
In a recent podcast episode, Dr. Sakumoto shares his current approach to hybrid care and how he does it. With his current setup, he works four days virtually and then sees patients in-office on Fridays. He also offers valuable insights into virtual-first primary care, virtual care empathy, differences in examination techniques, the future of telemedicine, and more.
As federal and state lawmakers are still discussing regulations and reimbursement for telehealth, now is the time for providers to lay the groundwork for the future of what hybrid care should look like rather than waiting.
LISTEN HERE: 109: Dr. Matthew Sakumoto Talks Virtual-First Primary Care & Value-Based Care Telemedicine Models
Many patients, providers, and staff were able to easily adapt to virtual care during the pandemic. While face-to-face visits are returning, all signs point to hybrid care being here to stay.
Hybrid healthcare strikes a difficult but achievable balance. Providers and medical staff can benefit from greater flexibility, a better work-life balance, and relief from burnout. Patients gain more autonomy over when and how they seek care, which in turn increases their satisfaction and engagement.
And there’s no need to wait — a fully hybrid healthcare system is available right now with Mend. Appointment reminders, digital intake forms, automatic payment, and more are only the start. Schedule a demo today with one of our specialists to see all Mend has to offer.
In hybrid healthcare, providers can deliver patient care in person or virtually with telehealth. On the patient side, this approach can increase patient satisfaction, engagement, and retention. Telehealth can also help reduce medical staff burnout and counter the challenges associated with the Great Resignation in healthcare.
The nature of some healthcare practices — such as surgery — necessitate an in-person visit. Other healthcare visits can be remote. A hybrid system in a hospital recognizes and accommodates the need for both. It therefore operates with telehealth as a regular part of delivering care, rather than something added or separate.
In a hybrid patient care model, providers can manage patient care remotely, face-to-face, or both. Providers and supporting staff rely heavily on technology for secure video conferencing, patient scheduling, appointment reminders, and more.