UnityPoint Health Simplifies Technology to Reach Its Most Vulnerable Populations During the Pandemic

November 23, 2020

// By Blake Marggraff //

Blake MarggraffIf there’s one thing the pandemic has shown us, it’s that not everyone has access to the internet or Wi-Fi. But most people these days do have cell phones, and remote patient monitoring via text messaging and IVR phone calls is one way to keep the lines of communication open for vulnerable patients.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people interact with their health care providers. The most vulnerable patients — older adults, those with chronic and behavioral health conditions, and those without easy access to care — have been hit the hardest.1

For the first time, many patients are experiencing what it’s like to be a rural patient where care feels out of reach. Patients who were once accustomed to frequent health touchpoints now feel the pressure to make do on their own2 — as providers experience staffing reductions and patients fear contracting COVID-19 and, thus, avoid health care visits.

To counter this trend, hospitals and health systems have tried using portals, apps, emails, physical mail, and other one-directional engagement methods to connect with patients and try to bring them through the doors. Yet these methods have proved ineffective due to low engagement3 and a lack of substantive value for patients. There’s now an urgency for health systems to bolster patient-provider relationships and their revenues through improved communication.

Patient-provider relationships can grow cold when patients experience fewer touchpoints. As patients become less and less satisfied with the quality and continuity of care they receive, they can become less engaged with their providers over time. Patient disengagement ultimately creates revenue problems for health systems as patients either stop seeking care altogether or turn to other providers. The vital connection between patient-provider relationships and revenue calls for a new approach to patient outreach and engagement that goes beyond one-way communication methods.

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