If we want to continue to leverage telehealth within the healthcare industry post-pandemic, several factors must be addressed. First, we need to value relationship-based healthcare and not the historical transactional healthcare that has evolved. This requires focusing on a model that keeps the population healthy and out of the hospital, while the relationship between the primary care physician and the patient would be the primary focus. An outpatient team could manage patient care with the primary care physician used for their expertise, and the team of occupational therapists, physical therapists, dietary, nursing, etc., leveraging their expertise in keeping the patient healthy.
Telemedicine solutions would be added to keep patient visits to only what would necessitate a physical presence. Meaningful data and personal information could be monitored from a distance, thus making the delivery a continuous process. Second, the financial model has to change. The value of the physician team and a patient relationship will need to migrate from a Relative Value Unit (RVU) transactional encounter to keep the patient healthy. To achieve this, we must implement population health.
Changing Healthcare to Accommodate Telehealth
This requires understanding the wellness of the population and capitating the payment. Care delivery would no longer be illness intervention but wellness maintenance. Innovative concepts of virtual care and team care would be reinforced naturally by this model. Finally, medical education will need to strengthen the new model of care. The silos between disciplines should be addressed to leverage everyone on the team. Efficient use of technologies such as telemedicine will also need to be taught, and the quality and appropriateness of the encounter will need to be defined. To be appropriately leveraged post-pandemic, the model of care delivery and patient population outcomes must be the drivers of success.