The COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic and disruptive effect on patient engagement around the world. COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way patients behave and made it difficult to get support to those who need it most.
With patients afraid to leave home for fear of contracting COVID-19, patient engagement is more critical than ever. So managing their health and mental well-being is crucial.
The Effect of COVID-19 on the Healthcare Industry
The healthcare industry is adapting to COVID-19 as the new normal. The unprecedented crisis has stretched an already overburdened workforce to breaking point. And it's pushed healthcare providers to transform the way they work, re-evaluating how patients can engage with them without spreading the virus.
Many people have understandable concerns about making an appointment and visiting their health care provider. In a recent study, 70% of patients deferred or cancelled scheduled treatments due to the pandemic.
The legacy of COVID-19 will be in what healthcare technology trends it caused to accelerate, particularly in patient engagement.
How Has COVID-19 Changed Patient Engagement?
Patient engagement has had to adapt and change in the wake of COVID-19, as patient expectations and behaviours have shifted. We've seen 4 fundamental changes:
- Increased popularity of telehealth/telemedicine platforms
- Healthcare organisations are changing priorities
- A focus on mental well-being
- A need for purposeful follow-up to engagement
Programs sponsored by life sciences organisations provide patients with the support and knowledge they need. While they don’t replace healthcare providers entirely, they provide vital educational services, medical information, and lifestyle tips.
Patient support programs are incredibly useful during the pandemic due to being easily adaptable for remote delivery. The lack of face-to-face engagement due to COVID-19 has meant many patients are changing the way they engage with their healthcare.
1. Increased popularity of telehealth/telemedicine platforms
COVID-19 has helped drive the innovation of telehealth, which has become essential in the wake of the pandemic. Originally a business choice centred around convenience and cost-saving, telehealth and virtual care have become a significant trend in patient engagement.
Telehealth uses technology to engage with patients, bringing medical professionals closer than ever before. By using video consultations, information portals, and remote monitoring, patients can interact with their clinicians without needing to be physically present, limiting the risk of viral infection.
As such, telehealth has seen an enormous uptick in usage since the beginning of lockdown. It's proving an effective way of continuing to provide healthcare support to those who need it. Patients enjoy more personalised interaction and faster response times.
Virtual care is an innovation driven by crisis, but it’s here to stay.
2. healthcare organisations are changing priorities
With patients more aware of the risk of infection than ever before, the process of care will be crucial. In many places, patients are being separated by their infection state to minimise the risk in practices and hospitals.
By segmenting patients depending on their COVID-19 status, clinicians are in a better position to provide more focused, tailored care specific to an individual. Patients much appreciate this level of personalisation.
We know that the delivery of care is improved when clinicians can focus in on precisely what a patient needs. The COVID-19 response is just one example of how this trend is having a positive impact on all patients in the future.
3. A Focus on mental well-being
The current climate has made it challenging to reduce anxiety in house-bound patients. It’s vital that mental health experts maintain communication and connections with their patients, even during the pandemic.
Mental health concerns are appearing in all sorts of patients, not just those explicitly diagnosed. Concerns over the availability of treatments to those who require long term care increases anxiety, so being able to help manage that anxiety is becoming more and more important.
4. A need for purposeful follow-up to engagement
Learning how messaging and information delivery is impacting remote patients during this pandemic is key to improving engagement. Online healthcare surveys can give providers insight into the effectiveness of patient engagement on individuals, while also helping them understand how a patient is coping both physically and mentally while isolated.
COVID-19 has brought about a constant flow of change which has meant the industry has had to adapt constantly. A purposeful follow-up to patient engagement means providers get the best understanding of what works for patients that need support and helps them to tailor care to individual needs, even long after COVID-19.
The Future of Patient Engagement
COVID-19 has already had a clear impact on patient engagement, and the delivery of care. Self-isolation and remote delivery have become the norm, and COVID-19 looks set to continue to be a catalyst for change for the foreseeable future.
It’s crucial that providers can reach their patients to deliver targeted, personalised care that works for them. This crisis is propelling the healthcare industry forwards and helping to pioneer innovations in care delivery and communication.Back to blog