Combining virtual care and personal touch to help the underserved

Photo: Modivcare

Tech-enabled vendors and services on the market have expanded with rapid acceleration since the pandemic. Telemedicine, though, cannot directly provide services to address social determinants of health, services that still remain scattered and disparate.

Hospital technology leaders could potentially benefit from companies that offer an umbrella of technologies and services that address health disparities for vulnerable populations to promote health outcomes and equity with an inclusive and expanded offering like non-emergency medical transportation, remote patient monitoring, food delivery and personal care.

Dan Greenleaf is president and CEO of Modivcare, a company that facilitates non-emergency medical transportation, nutritional meal delivery, and personal and home care with the aim of enabling greater access to care, reducing costs and improving outcomes.

Healthcare IT News interviewed Greenleaf to talk about the intersection of these services and telemedicine.

Q. Can telemedicine help provide services to address social determinants of health? If so, how? If not, what needs to be done?

A. Telemedicine has revolutionized patient interaction in the past two years. It enables patients and providers to interact in ways we could have never imagined. It may work for a majority of the people who have access to technology, smartphones, laptops, high-speed wireless connections and unlimited data, but it doesn’t work for those who are living with limited economic resources.

A Medicaid member may not have a smartphone, high-speed wireless internet or unlimited data plans. I think it is foolish for technology companies to think their solutions are available to everyone. The same goes for providers and payers. If we want telemedicine to support all populations then we have to make sure everyone has access.

Once again, it goes back to access and socio-economic barriers. There has to be collaboration and engagement across the healthcare spectrum and communities if we are going to make a difference.

Technology leaders need to have a vision that looks beyond the affluent customer and embraces the entire patient population.

Q. How can telehealth address health disparities for vulnerable populations to promote health outcomes and equity?

A. We have to take into consideration the economic barriers that the underserved experience. We can’t offer underserved populations tools that they have no way to access or support.

We have to rely on a combination of telehealth tools. It may be a PERS device in a home that uses landline technology but feeds a dashboard to which a personal care provider can review and respond. It may be a community health center nurse sharing vitals and other health information into a portal that supports a broader patient profile.

We have to have solutions that meet the requirements of an underserved population, not force a solution that they may not be able to afford the technology requirements to support.

If we can deliver telemedicine in low-bandwidth environments, which doesn’t require the latest and greatest smartphone or tablet and supports human interactions, I think we can begin to address health disparities.

Q. You have said answers to all of this could help remove barriers to care, enhance the patient experience, improve outcomes and reduce the cost of care. How?

A. I firmly believe when technology is married with personal care for patients, then we have the best of both worlds. We have to find ways to partner across payers, providers, tech leaders and community resources to bridge the SDOH gaps and enable telemedicine’s value across all socio-economic groups.

It is a shame that a person’s ZIP code is the No. 1 indicator of their health status. We are trying to change that at Modivcare. Through our approach to addressing social determinants of health by aligning transportation, meals, remote patient monitoring and personal care, we strive to improve the patient experience, improve outcomes and reduce care costs.

We create bridges in communities to connect patients with the medical and personal care they need to achieve healthier outcomes.

During the pandemic, Modivcare was the lifeline for many patients. We delivered more than 2 million meals and provided 50 million rides and 30 million hours of care. We transported 40,000 COVID patients to medical appointments and helped 300,000 individuals get to vaccination appointments. We did that through technology, virtual care and personal touch.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

Source: Read Full Article