Columbus, OH – 8/30/2021.
It seems that primary care can’t win these days. Following repeated reports of growing, impending provider shortages, and worsening physician burnout and attrition, a recent study stipulates that many patients lost trust in their doctors over the course of the pandemic. The primary reasons related to lack of or perceived insufficient communication about COVID, and both slow and underuse of digital and virtual resources. However, additional research shows that expanded telepharmacy during the pandemic streamlined care and costs in multiple respects. We propose that one can learn from the other.
Primary care delivery is heavily burdened by antiquated hierarchies and reimbursement structures. Medicine is traditionally top-down, which can create bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Patients have struggled to access their information, or even their providers. Costs are opaque and high. Doctors who entered the profession to help people are overwhelmed by paperwork and insurance requirements and bureaucracies.
It’s no wonder these front-line providers are feeling threatened. Yet, as a professional group, there is entrenched, persistent reticence to pursue substantive change.
Conversely, analysis of hospitals and health systems that increased use of telepharmacy services during the pandemic shows improvements in care delivery and workflow inefficiencies, decreased costs, better patient engagement, and subsequently better patient satisfaction.
There is precedent for telepharmacy use for functions like order verification. But as in-person care became less and less viable with the onset of the pandemic, recent strategies have included using it for direct patient care, including education and management, and counseling about adherence.
Health in Motion Network envisions expansive opportunities for telehealth in the pharmacy context to integrate with primary and even specialty care delivery for system-wide benefit. Physicians aren’t the only health professionals struggling with low reimbursements, long days, and clinical stress. Pharmacy is similarly encumbered. Multidisciplinary care that is consumer-continuous via a centralized, comprehensive digital tool meets both patient and provider needs and delivers sustainable return on stakeholder investment.
Practical considerations, not to be discounted in importance, include addressing patient access to reliable internet connections and digital tools, and evolving reimbursement that encompasses novel delivery mechanisms like value-based care. Health in Motion Network is exploring various strategic partnerships to facilitate access to its digital platform as well as in-home devices for patient use. All involved need to be prepared to dedicate the time and energy to building the needed infrastructure.
Ultimately, we identify better collaboration within sub-sectors as the lesson that needs to be embraced. Where pharmacy is approaching a problem creatively that could equally apply in a medical setting, share best practices and technologies. The health professions themselves can and should come together to join their skills for improved patient outcomes.
Health In Motion Network delivers a consumer-centric, digitally enhanced healthcare ecosystem, enabling centralized and personalized, pharmacist-driven care management, empowering consumer choice and optimizing clinical outcomes.