Hybrid Care Offers Better Care for Patients and Providers

By Mike Brandofino, President and COO, Caregility
Twitter: @caregility

Over 60% of consumers said they would prefer to continue using a hybrid care model for healthcare services – even as the pandemic begins to wane, according to a recent GoodRx survey.

Surprisingly – despite the overwhelming consumer support for a hybrid care model, some debate remains among key decision-makers throughout the continuum of care about the best path forward. But why?

Many clinicians and healthcare professionals remain cautious. For many years and across many initiatives, there has been a promise of improved care, ease of use, and streamlined workflows. In many cases, the results fell short of expectations due to various factors from misaligned goals and expectations to technical challenges and reimbursement uncertainty. Regardless of these failed attempts, the primary challenges are as relevant today as in years past. Clinicians are exhausted, stressed, and over-worked, operating in a perfect storm of industry change, economic forces, and social influences punctuated by the global pandemic.

The result of the current dynamic is more than anecdotal. A Hospital IQ Survey done in November of 2021 showed that over 90% of nurses are considering leaving the profession due to increased workloads and patient-to-nurse ratios.

Just as there is a perfect storm causing healthcare workers to exit the profession, there is also a perfect storm with Hybrid Care, making it a vital part of healthcare delivery across the care continuum.

Hybrid care offers a path forward that can ease the strain on health systems by freeing up our clinical teams’ most precious resources: time and talent.

Consider an understaffed ICU department. There are not enough nurses available to manage all patient rooms, resulting in a limit on how many patients can be admitted. Not only does this negatively impact patient throughput, but it also leaves acute patients to spend longer periods of time in emergency departments, be admitted to a lower acuity department, or be rerouted to another facility. That adds further stress to the clinical team and hurts the patient’s experience.

With hybrid care’s ability to see and hear in every room, onsite staff is quickly augmented by a remote team of experts and skilled clinicians. Trained and qualified talent from around the world can be available anytime to monitor and support the patient and their onsite care team. By easing the burden on our clinical teams, we improve the quality of care and the provider experience, which carries measurable outcome improvements.

  • Patients are less likely to risk a fall – one of the major risk factors for inpatient complications.
  • Patients in isolation environments due to infectious disease diagnoses – from pneumonia to COVID-19 to rhinovirus – can receive clinical oversight and interaction without clinicians having to adhere to traditional contact precautions.
  • Virtual nurses can provide high-quality discharge education throughout the patient’s stay, supporting an appropriate length of stay, reducing the chance of a readmission, and improving the patient’s experience.
  • Clinical teams can continue care following a discharge with a greater understanding – perhaps in a “hospital-at-home” scenario – in a way that reduces the odds of readmission and improves the patient’s health.

With the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic lingering amidst contentious legislation, patients are shifting some of their focus (and dollars) too. Patients are demanding healthcare delivery experiences that are more accessible, empower decision-making, and support whole-person care. Increasingly, consumers are not just patients – they are influencing the economics of healthcare decision-making.

Patient priorities and preferences for hybrid care models echo the reasons healthcare organizations should look to hybrid care to help improve health outcomes.

Increased Patient Satisfaction
Patients have been thriving with hybrid care models deployed in response to the pandemic. Hybrid care has allowed patients’ experiences at healthcare facilities to be more convenient. Furthermore, a survey conducted by the Mayo Clinic showed that hybrid care boosted patient experience by 90% and can even be correlated to optimistic patient recovery.

Improved Clinical Workflows
Hybrid care can bridge gaps by reassigning tasks that can be accomplished by a virtual clinician and giving nurses time that is always desperately needed to provide high-quality care and support nurses’ self-care. Hybrid care models lean on remote resources to monitor low-acuity patients and help balance disproportioned patient-to-nurse ratios.

If we reimagine care delivery in a patient-centered, provider-supportive, and outcome-oriented way, the future of healthcare is hybrid care. And the future of healthcare will be challenged by how fast it adopts innovative solutions to ease several pressing burdens, including reimbursement models and legislation.

Hybrid care offers the future of healthcare the opportunity to deliver better care – for the industry’s most vital stakeholders: the patients and the healthcare team.