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Historically, healthcare is immune to business vulnerability during a recession because there will always be a constant need for care and treatment as illness and diseases happen with or without crisis. Hence, the demand for healthcare is relatively constant across a business cycle. However, some crises such as a pandemic have a different tale to tell. Implementations such as physical distancing and lockdowns to reduce the risk of virus spread has affected the mobilization of healthcare across the country and across the globe and health care offices are feeling the pinch.
Not a single company in healthcare is not at risk for business vulnerability in any type of crisis. Especially with a health-related crisis, the bulk of the responsibility is carried by the providers of clinical care. If this won’t be contained and the curve of spread doesn’t decrease through time, the effect of a crisis upon the health and care system poses a vulnerability in the industry and goes beyond economic concerns.
As of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic has reached 3.51 millions cases with over 248,310 deaths and 1,156,991 recovered individuals. The US is now top one in terms of number of infected people, higher than China where the virus first spread. In only 2 months, China was able to flatten the curve of infection through aggressive testing and quarantine efforts. Another country that successfully flattened the curve of the pandemic is South Korea by preventing and delaying the spread of virus so that large portions of the population do not get sick at the same time. These countries were able to stamp out COVID-19 as soon as possible through:
Without treatment and vaccines available, physical distancing is about the only key to limit the spread of the virus. Reopening businesses and other non-essential commodities when physical distancing measures are in place throughout the country can halt in flattening the infection curve. Yet, enhancing and mobilizing the healthcare industry through telehealth into adapting to the new normal is one key measure to control and limit the pandemic. Now, what is telehealth and how does it help in flattening the curve?
Telehealth is a virtual platform that allows healthcare interactions such as promoting long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, and public health and health administration. The number one job for everyone is to avoid being a carrier or a distributor of the virus. Therefore, virtual healthcare such as telehealth can free up medical staff and equipment needed for those who become seriously ill from COVID-19 especially the people with greater risks like 60 years old and over, children, individuals with underlying health conditions and those with compromised immune systems. Keeping people apart and not congregating in small spaces such as clinics and hospitals can thwart the virus to roam from one person to another or as we all know as physical distancing. But keeping healthcare professionals apart from patients is called medical distancing and can be accomplished through telehealth.
How then can it flatten the curve?
Think of it this way, suspected and probable patients can stay at home and treat the flu-like symptoms instead of going to the hospital. Aside from the influx of patients in and out the hospital, staying at home can limit the spread of virus that can possibly infect medical frontliners. But of course, these people still need ample treatment from professionals. This is where telehealth comes in. Through the use of video chat or phone call, medical providers can call in to assess and gather information to find out whether care is urgently needed, or self-monitor of symptoms at home is more advisable. It can also be used for regular check-ins during recovery, as needed.
Sad but true, there are more than 100 healthcare professionals per institution under quarantine because they face head on and are exposed to infected people which in return raises concern on workforce capacity. If the spread will not be managed sooner, it will come to a point that supply of healthcare professionals will not meet the overwhelming demand.
Another beauty of telehealth is balancing the load through disseminating the needed care to thousands of online clinicians. This helps medical facilities struggling to better serve patients during peak periods of the outbreak. Through telehealth, those under quarantine may still extend a helping hand through virtual check ups and consultations freeing up clinicians in performing in-person care.
While the number of outbreaks is spiralling, the need for healthcare does not exempt those people with high risk non-COVID-19 related illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and cancer. Telehealth can come in handy beyond treating COVID-19 related cases by providing options to other routine care to the elderly and other high-risk patients. This is a calculated strategy to protect non-covid related patients from exposure while not limiting routine care. Limiting their exposure in the waiting room, emergency room or at the doctor’s office promotes decreasing their risk in contracting the virus especially since these people are more often than not immunocompromised.
Now if there will be an increased use of telehealth, what’s next?
If most health institutions use telehealth there will be a significant surge for online waiting queue and virtual healthcare providers may get overburdened. Streamlining up-front screening questionnaires, chatbots, and AI tools aid in making health processes and patient encounters more efficient for clinicians. The strategy of getting patient information while on hold helps practitioners by having already available data about medical history, symptoms, and other information needed to accurately diagnose.
It is also important to partner with an outsourcing company that can provide a team of healthcare professionals who can help manage the patient influx from this outbreak with the best healthcare practices at hand. The right outsourcing company can catapult the healthcare industry amidst the crisis by helping get clinicians working as quickly as possible where they’re needed most and at the same time targeting key metrics such as quality improvements in telehealth, decreased turnaround time for claims management, savings operation cost and most importantly access to the right pool of talents in the telehealth field – all while adhering in keeping health risks low through the beauty of being able to perform administrative tasks and support despite geographical distance.
Here at Infinit-O, we understand the impact of telehealth’s contribution in flattening the curve of this pandemic. Operational support and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) support such as patient concierge, medical review specialist and other patient inquiry-related needs to back up production capacity and freeing clinicians from answering phone calls and responding to appointment inquiries. They can also help oversee the day to day peer review process from acceptance of medical cases for review, facilitating first level screening if applicable and preparation of case review documents to be endorsed to doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers.
We build great teams of registered nurses, clinical data processors, patient engagement specialists, medical coders, certified medical billers for claims concerns, clinical and medical abstractors among others. Our aim is to create long lasting partnerships and endless opportunities for your institution to grow while managing the sudden demand for healthcare. We render a strong understanding in medical review and analyzing clinical abstaractors for health institution consultancy, process optimization, and outsourced healthcare services; all utilizing the latest technology to provide excellent value for our clients.
We are ISO-certified, HIPAA– and GDPR-compliant, so your company and patient data are safe with us. HIPAA-compliant companies can provide telehealth services during state emergencies and can transmit any health information in electronic form.
By expanding consultation services and other health related concerns such as billing, claims and insurance through telehealth in partnership with an outsourcing company that can provide these extended services virtually can be one of the key weapons in flattening the infection curve. Having an organized health triage system aids the existing burden that in-person clinicians are shouldering.
Let’s work together in Building a Great Telehealth Team who can duly respond with the expanding healthcare needs.
Start small. Exceed expectations. Think infinitely. Think Infinit-O.
Outsourcing for the $300 billion global medical device industry is rapidly becoming a trend, with a projection that the market for medical device outsourcing will steadily rise to as high as $44.7 billion by 2017.
While outsourcing isn’t a new phenomenon, its benefits for the medical device industry are clear. The medical device industry is under constant pressure to control costs without sacrificing research development, timelines or safety. It doesn’t help that new technologies, process advancements and a booming and aging population have led to explosive growth within the market in the past years. With its growth, regulations evolve and become more strict and complex and competition more intense. By outsourcing some of its operations, medical device original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can take advantage of lowered operation costs, increased agility, a reduction in time-to-market and a boost on their return of investment (ROI). In turn, OEMs can transform their companies into strategic investments rather than merely cost centers.
Customer support and information technology (IT) aren’t the only aspects of the operation that can be outsourced. There are so many outsourcing models available today that can suit an OEM’s needs. Examples range from full service to targeted functions including product design, development, and production, engineering services, packaging to supply chain management to more traditional areas of procurement, finance and accounting, human resources (HR), real estate and facilities management (REFM), customer care, research and development (R&D), and, of course, information technology.
According to a recent KPMG survey, among 94 respondents in the medical device and service provider industries, cost reduction and improved service delivery are two of the primary drivers for outsourcing. IT outsourcing (ITO) was identified by 38% of respondents as a top means for cost reduction, while 26% of respondents viewed it as a good method to improve service delivery. In comparison, business process outsourcing (BPO) was viewed by 30% of respondents as a top means for cost reduction, while 19% of respondents believed it was a good method to improve service delivery.
Outsourcing will give OEMs the opportunity to take advantage of resources (human, materials or machinery) than to keep it locally within their headquarters. It will ultimately be more cost-efficient to outsource production especially if operations and expertise of machinery can be better handled from outside than to bring an expert in their headquarters and then train people on how to operate.
For example, it is no question that medical devices manufacturing equipment are made primarily by Taiwan, China, and Korea. Instead of bringing in equipment to manufacture medical devices or products, it might be a better decision to outsource production operations entirely overseas to handle quality assurance and maintenance better.
When you outsource certain aspects of operations, you are not reducing additional overhead and expenses; you are enhancing your ability to focus on main goals. Instead of worrying about production, you can have it outsourced and focus on marketing the product or device. Instead of training employees or recruiting new hires for additional departments like IT and HR, have it outsourced. Whereas it could take months for your business to manufacture complex innovative medical devices, a company that focuses only on manufacturing medical devices might be able to build them in weeks. By letting other experts in their respective industries handle what they do best, OEMs can focus on what they’re good at – researching and developing new medical devices to help mankind. This is similar to contracting sales companies or research organizations.
Not only can outsourcing be a cost-effective approach to increase speed to market, improve quality and allow your company to focus on its core business, but it can also ultimately help OEMs achieve their goal of generating more income and put out world-class medical devices.
The challenge with outsourcing is managing the relationship. There a lot of outsourcing services opportunities in medical device companies. There must be trust between the OEM and the outsourcing provider (IT, HR, customer support, manufacturing, etc.). You need to be sure the organization can meet regulatory requirements, can stay compliant and will not cut corners. By undertaking operational efficiency improvements, creating workplace environments that promote sustainability and productivity, employing highly qualified, talented, trainable and competent staff and ensuring safety and regulatory compliance along with OEMs’ global standards, the outsourcing provider will be able to gain the OEM’s trust and can even bring more business in.
No matter how cliché the statement, “Health is wealth” can be, it is definitely something that each individual should take into account. Need not worry though, because we can provide your medical institution all the assistance you’ll need through our exceptional patient services such as billing, coding, and even back-office responsibilities. Learn more!