Adherence in the time of Coronavirus: Matt Dickson Discusses the Disrupted Patient Journey and Looks Ahead to the Future of Healthcare, Part 2

April 30, 2020 | Stericycle Communication Solutions

Recently, Stericycle Communication Solutions hosted a video webinar with partners, Yext and Podium, to discuss how COVID-19 has changed the patient journey and what healthcare might look like in the future. Last week, we shared a portion of an interview with Matt Dickson, Vice President of Product, Strategy and GM of Communication Solutions at Stericycle, to better understand his point of view on the subject. With over twenty years in the healthcare industry, Matt brings a wealth of industry knowledge, technical product expertise, and thought leadership to the Stericycle team.

In the webinar, which you can view here, we discuss flashbulb moments and the velocity of change after such events. The COVID-19 global health crisis has gripped the minds of the world in the past several months. It's created a flashbulb moment, or a highly detailed, exceptionally vivid 'snapshot' of a traumatic, highly impactful event. As an example, some of us remember the horrors of watching the coverage of the Challenger shuttle explosion and how that changed processes and feelings going into the next shuttle launch. We ask Matt some of the more challenging questions from our webinar here:

Q. COVID-19 will likely be a flashbulb moment for many of us. How do you see flashbulb moments changing our standard approach to challenges?

A:Flashbulb moments typically have two primary paths taken. They can either accelerate change that was already occurring or identify and highlight weaknesses and deficiencies in systems or processes.

In the case of COVID-19 and the global health crisis occurring as a result, we have seen both paths revealed. It has highlighted many challenges we see in the shift to value-based care and the adoption of telehealth and other digital health strategies. But it is also forcing health systems and providers to embrace or accelerate strategies and technologies that support the shift.

Q. Speaking of challenges in the current system, do you see vulnerabilities in treating chronic conditions or underserved patient populations during the pandemic?

A: As I discussed previously, COVID-19 is really just highlighting and exacerbating current issues we face with care plan adherence. As an industry, we are trying to double down on remote patient monitoring strategies that are difficult to implement with a high lift. We should instead start by asking patients to self-report basic information related to their conditions. Blood sugar levels, weight, and medication compliance via SMS is a lower lift, and it's relatively easy to implement. We have also exposed the need for a low tech/high tech, synchronous/asynchronous approach to telehealth. Not everyone has access to necessary bandwidth and technologies needed to participate in video visits and there are practical concerns as well, including access to a quiet and private space within the home for example. The transition to telehealth must be made with great care, or it will only worsen existing issues faced by underserved and under-resourced communities that already are disproportionately impacted by healthcare access issues.

Q.  Will telehealth "stick" and what is the future of the patient experience when virtual visits are added into the mix?

A. I believe we are moving into an environment where there will be a mix of both in-office and virtual visits.  Not every appointment is right for a telehealth visit though and careful consideration is needed to determine which services are best to transition online. For telehealth to really stick though, we need to focus on appointments that can be resolved successfully via the telehealth appointment. If a high rate of those appointments requires follow up with in office visits, consumers will just view it as an extra cost and more hassle than it's worth. Healthcare systems will have to be mindful of making sure that the telehealth visit is the right fit for a particular care need.

To hear more from Matt and our partners on how COVID-19 has changed the patient journey and what healthcare might look like in the future, watch our webinar.

To learn more about telehealth and the best practices you shouldn't overlook when creating your virtual patient care strategy, download our latest eBook.

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