“It speaks well to the fact that the health industry is moving forward in its quest to redesign care, but providers are painfully aware that the environment they are doing that in is fraught with other constraints that they have to be very realistic about.”
As Deborah J. Bowen, president of the American College of Healthcare Executives outlined to HealthLeaders back in 2014, the struggle to innovate while managing financial constraints is evident across all levels of healthcare practice, and is an issue which remains even more pressing today.
Reports on the concerns facing healthcare practitioners, highlighted by analysts ranging from the ACHE to PwC Health Research, all share a common theme; there is a fine balance to be struck between financing and advancing healthcare.
No Margin, No Mission
Our mutual goal as healthcare professionals, as noted by the HSE’s Integrated Care Programme for Prevention and Management of Chronic Disease, is “to design an integrated model of care that treats patients at the lowest level of complexity that is safe, timely, efficient and as close to home as possible”, but how does that translate in real terms?
It has long been established that healthcare providers, from large-scale hospitals to homecare clinicians, face the eternal challenge of providing high quality and easily accessible services to their patients. With the unquestionable and unstoppable arrival of increased consumerism in the field of healthcare, this issue has only become more urgent. Increased access to knowledge on the patient-side and increased competition on the provider-side results in a very basic economic issue for providers. How do we lower the level of costs, while improving the quality of service?
For large-scale providers, the issue also deepens with vital considerations which must be given to the frontline healthcare workforce, at the coalface of this increasingly demanding challenge. In their latest report “Top health industry issues of 2018: A year for resilience amid uncertainty” PwC Health Research noted that “73 percent of provider executives say balancing patient satisfaction and employee job satisfaction is a barrier to efforts to improve the patient experience.” Despite being a ‘barrier’, this consideration can certainly be managed through engaging staff in additional training and promoting values. There is again, unsurprisingly, a financial outlay to this.
Add to this the harmful financial impact of patient no-shows, waiting list penalty charges, spiralling administration costs and a demographic tsunami that’s hitting developed countries’ health systems, it becomes painfully apparent that potentially avoidable expenses are escalating for healthcare providers across all levels, on a daily basis.
Innovate or Exit
The healthcare industry is aspiring, as other industries are, to implement the latest technological innovations in their services, AI, IoT, and so on. As the tech world innovates and grows at a rapid pace however, the mental healthcare industry is struggling to keep up. While the Healthcare and Life Sciences relationship is flourishing with new software or medtech research & discoveries the issue remains for day-to-day mental healthcare providers who may not have the finances to implement these latest advances as rapidly or easily as larger incumbents.
In addition, the patient is no stranger to the increased availability, accessibility and efficiency of everyday services. Simply look at the revolutionary success of AirBnb or Uber. Across the board, all industries have seen major changes in how they provide more on-demand services to their customers. Competition and innovation are not simply isolated to those already in the market. Last year we heard murmurings of Amazon Pharmacy, as the world’s consumer-driven powerhouse entered the discussion in the healthcare industries next stage of innovation. Teledoc launched a patient-facing online therapy service-Better Help in the USA. With new entrants of this scale possibly entering the market, what are small to medium healthcare providers to do, to keep up?
A new survey by Mental Health Reform found that 84% of Irish respondents feel that the health service places too little focus on mental health. One in ten adults in Ireland has a mental health difficulty at any given time, while almost 20% of young people aged 19-24 and 15% of children aged 11-13 years have experienced a diagnosable mental health disorder at some point in their lives. More shockingly, in May of this year, over 6,500 children and young people were waiting for their first psychological appointment.
With Government investment of over €200m between 2012 and 2018, the system cannot cope with the number of people looking for support. Mental Health Reform says staffing in mental health services is lower now than it was in 2008 and it is calling on the Government to boost investment in the area.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mental Health Reform Director Dr Shari McDaid said: “The fact is, that if we invested in our mental health service, it would reduce costs throughout the health service because a lot of other health conditions are exacerbated by not having the mental health care in place.
Teletherapy & Telepsychiatry As A Solution
Telehealth- the online delivery of care or sharing of clinical information- has been widely regarded as a hugely positive step in healthcare innovation. Subsets would include offering services such as online therapy, electronic health records and secure messaging of protected health information. These simple and effective uses of technology seek to efficiently fight the battle against financial and technological issues for healthcare providers. Online consultation systems in both public and private sector would assist in maximising available resources, retaining tor re-engaging talented staff, facilitate triaging of waiting lists, increasing reach to remote, underserviced areas. The benefits are endless.
Wellola: What are the benefits?
At Wellola, we believe passionately in empowering healthcare providers to develop accessible, affordable healthcare systems. We are committed to providing healthcare providers with the tools to deliver cutting-edge healthcare anywhere, maximise clinical outcomes & optimise their patients’ online journey. Our communications portal can work directly from a clinic’s own site.
- Offer Online or In-House Care: Depending on your healthcare business, you may choose to attend to some or all clients through our secure video-consultation portal. For most, video-consultations act as a complement to in-person sessions. Wellola is unique in its design- patients can book either depending on your inputted availability. This facilitates in-house, blended or online therapy.
- Triage Your Waiting List: Reduce your waiting list by offering low-acuity assessments and follow ups through our platform.
- Fill Last Minute Appointments: No shows have been shown to hit clinic income by up to 10%. If there’s a no- show at your clinic, why not fill that slot with a telehealth appointment instead?
- Offer A More Professional Service: Some clinics we spoke with are starting to use Facetime, Skype or Zoom but have found they can be a bit unprofessional or clunky for their less tech savvy patients. They are also missing the seamless link from booking through to treatment and payment. With Wellola, patients receive a text link with no third party downloads.
- What are the features? Our software is simple to set up and easy to use. Features include (but are not limited to):
- Online Reservation For In-House & Online Therapy
- Seamless Video Consultation With No Third Party Downloads
- Integrated Online Payment & E-Invoicing Facility
- GDPR Compliant Messaging
- Secure Patient Portal
Irish-owned & backed by Enterprise Ireland, Wellola proudly services customers in the telepsychiatry and teletherapy space. Sign up for your 30-day free trial today at www.wellola.com. Questions? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 012988132 to arrange a demonstration of our software.