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The New Normal: Digital Health in the Post-COVID World – Part 2: Physicians and Digital Health, the Road to Greater Adoption

Carina Edwards

July 13, 2021

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Healthcare professionals and patients alike are relying on digital health tools in greater numbers than ever before. As the world is beginning to reopen, what happens next for digital health leaders and care providers now that more patients have experienced virtual care integrated into their experiences as a result of COVID-19?

Much like working remotely has eliminated long and costly commutes, physicians and patients have both experienced the upside of an accelerated transition to digital health. We examined the patient upsides in part 1 of this series – providers are also seeing improved healthcare outcomes and lower costs as a result of adopting digital tools. As leaders in digital health, it is up to us to prove these benefits are here to stay in a post-COVID world.

Physician adoption of digital health – the COVID acceleration

A lasting digital transformation requires that physicians trust and use digital healthcare tools as well as patients. The good news is even before the pandemic, physician adoption of digital tools was on the rise. If leaders in digital health can continue to prove to physicians that these online tools can both help their patients and streamline their workflows, physician adoption rates will only rise further.

Early studies have shown that the pandemic is spurring large-scale adoption of digital health tools across the industry. Digital health tracking tools saw the biggest growth in 2020, rising from 42% adoption rates in 2019 to 54% in 2020. These tools were around prior to the pandemic, but providers needed to implement their most innovative solutions to continue to provide the best care possible as resources were stretched during COVID. Now that the industry has seen the possibilities enabled by adopting digital health tools, for both patients and staff, implementation efforts continue to increase.

Many of Quil’s partnering organizations saw a notable jump in their populations’ interest in their own health and in activation on digital health tools throughout the pandemic. For example, Penn Medicine saw 78% of registered Quil users completing video content during the pandemic, compared to 44% before COVID. Seniors especially are keen to incorporate digital health into their plans; users aged 61 to 70 had the highest percent increase in log ins with a 13% increase in Quil logins during COVID.

This is good news not just for physicians, but all clinical staff from the front desk to the nurses. Health-literate and empowered patients means reduced hospital stay lengths, improved discharge-to-home rates, ultimately freeing up clinical staff to provide more efficient care.

Digital health leaders’ role in adoption

How will digital health leaders get more physicians and clinical staff on board? We must look beyond simply fitting digital health tools into medical staff’s workflows. We need to demonstrate the inherent value digital tools bring to their patients through better clinical results, and to clinical staff by streamlining care and giving them back precious minutes in their day. That means interoperability – easy, reliable connectivity between physician and consumer devices – is a must.

Notably many CIO’s have found themselves transitioning their focus from clinical automation to patient-centered engagement throughout the course of the past year’s industry-wide pivot to digital health. As CIOs become more invested in patient engagement than ever before, they can champion, influence and inspire care teams to use the tools that will both save them time and resources as well as create higher quality experiences for patients, ultimately improving health outcomes.

Providers adapted quickly in the face of the COVID pandemic to embrace digital tools to remotely care for patients and greatly accelerated innovation in healthcare as a result. Now as we embark into a post-COVID world, the value of digital health is more apparent than ever and desired by patients and doctors alike – leaders in digital health business must build on the past year’s successes.  

Originally posted on LinkedIn by Carina Edwards, Executive Officer at Quil. View here.