The year 2020 has had no shortage of culture-impacting events—that is for certain. We’ve had heartbreaking celebrity deaths, devastating natural disasters, polarizing political happenings, monumental social justice movements, and of course—COVID-19. So impactful the events of the first half of 2020 have been, that one could say that we have entered a whole new era, and in many ways, we definitely have.
The impact of this new era is readily visible in our health care system. In addition to dealing with the strain of caring for an influx of COVID-19 diagnosed patients, care must be provided for patients battling a plethora of other diagnoses but under severely restrictive safety protocols and operations. More than just adequately treating patients, it’s also ensuring safety for health professionals and also supporting the emotional needs of the patient families. All in all, perhaps more than anything, this era we’ve entered into has challenged the human connections and relationships that are essential to treating patients and saving lives.
Another impact of the COVID-19 era is that some conveniences became essential necessities. Take telehealth, for example. Over the past several years, organizations had been incorporating telehealth to some extent at an increasing but by no means blazing rate. In 2020, telehealth has become an absolute necessity—in some scenarios being the only way to continue seeing patients. And given the volatility of this pandemic, telehealth will play a significant role in the foreseeable future. The CMS regulations are changing, insurance reimbursements are adapting, and health care organizations are creating new workflows to provide care in this new era. But a question worth keeping in mind through it all is how does a telehealth platform impact the human connections and relationships between health care teams, patients, and their loved ones.
As part of my work here at pMD, almost daily I assist patients in getting oriented on our platform for their telehealth encounters on pMD. Most patients don’t need any assistance and never reach out to us, but often it’s the patients most in need of care who are the least tech-savvy, or who are very apprehensive about having their first video visit. I have had personal phone calls with hundreds of elderly patients who have never downloaded an app before and just need a patient-caring presence to walk them through the process. I have had more calls than I can remember where I’ve conducted test video sessions with family members who ultimately were just really anxious about their loved one being set up properly to have their scheduled doctor visit. The joy and appreciation that these people express when their concerns and anxieties about their telehealth software have been put at ease are very rewarding. It’s also been quite entertaining at times, especially that moment when the video connects and we “celebrate” our success and put faces to our voices.
These moments I’ve shared with patients are because pMD’s commitment to providing the best customer support is not just for the health care organizations we partner with, it also extends to their patients. The fact is, some people just need more technical support than others, and in this COVID era where telehealth is sometimes the only option, we continue to give our best toward helping every patient have a delightful telehealth experience with their health care providers.
We here at pMD understand that adopting a patient-facing technology, such as a telehealth platform, inherently incorporates supporting those patients who need more technical support than others. More importantly, we understand that a health organization implementing technology to facilitate patient care does not magically acquire the in-house capability to provide the premium technical support that some of the most in-need patients require. And in many cases, I’ve noticed that patients don’t seem to distinguish their experience with me from their experience with their doctor’s office as a whole. So accordingly, I value the interaction and treat it as such. The takeaway being that choosing a technology platform is sometimes more than just choosing product features—it is engaging in a partnership that impacts the overall experience of all those involved. This is why we not only provide round-the-clock personal customer support, we continue to evolve our products and release new features with the delight of both providers and patients at the forefront.
A telehealth platform that offers round-the-clock personal customer support, video/voice/text communication, availability on iOS/Android/Web, and many other features, does indeed check a lot of the boxes on a typical product requirements list. But in my experience, it’s how all of the parts come together to create the greater whole of fostering human connections, and the partnership between health care organization and technology vendor, that is most invaluable in defining a telehealth platform. And in an era where telehealth adoption has become an essential necessity, and quality human connections in health care are needed more than ever, I’m proud to be part of a team that prioritizes real partnership and continues to create offerings that put people first.