Soon after COVID-19 cases first spiked, something eerie happened – other patients vanished. Spooked by risks still largely not understood, patients dealt with their healthcare like they dealt with the virus, that is, by staying home.
We saw this firsthand with our radiology partners: appointments were cancelled en masse. Anecdotally, some institutions reported a greater than 70% drop in imaging volume in the outpatient setting and around 50% drop in the inpatient setting . A backlog of appointments quickly piled up, and they needed to be rescheduled. Yet patients were confused about how to do so and if it was even safe. Health systems struggled to engage these patients – let alone convince them that safety protocols were in place.
They urgently needed a plan to resolve the backlog, quickly and safely.
The answer, it turns out, was right on our phones. Within weeks of hearing from our customer-partners about this problem, we launched new digital outreach programs through Philips Patient Management Solution. Since then, we’ve been helping these healthcare leaders re-engage patients, reduce backlogs, bring patients back into radiology departments, and connect them to virtual visits. These new, innovative approaches are still in development, but the early results are promising. These programs enable a better, more diverse way to deliver care, and I believe they are a glimpse into the future of diagnosing, managing and treating patients virtually.
At the most fundamental level, the pandemic has highlighted the need for health systems to implement a scalable digital strategy to reach patients directly. So as new challenges emerged during the pandemic – mass cancellations, rebooking, navigating the return to operations, bringing a backlog of patients back into the fold – we’ve worked with our partners to build digital strategies capable of addressing them head on.
We’ve found three things that have been key to overcoming these challenges: