We asked Provider Roundtable, our online advisory group, how COVID-19 has impacted their practice and their patients. They also told us which changes they think will have long-term affects on the health care industry. Here's what they had to say.
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How has COVID-19 affected your specific role?
We asked members of our Provider Roundtable how much of an impact COVID-19 has had on their role and what that impact has been. Almost no one was unaffected by COVID-19. Conversely, a total of 82% saw significant amounts of change.
Many providers have experienced impromptu WFH arrangements, staff reduction, and difficulties completing administrative tasks. “Many are still working from home and do not have full access to records,” said one provider. Providers also reported increased demand from patients, but a decrease in the number of patients they can see every day. Despite all these difficulties, three out of five surveyed providers believe that the impact of COVID-19 on their roles will be temporary.
How has COVID-19 altered your interactions with and expectations of health insurance companies?
The surveyed providers generally didn’t see as much change in their engagement with health insurance companies as they did in their roles.
Only 7% have had completely different engagement with health insurance companies, whereas 29% haven’t seen any difference at all. 36% of providers have experienced a moderate amount of change.
Reflecting on their relationships with all carriers, providers commonly mentioned experiencing longer wait times, more difficulty getting in touch, claims issues, and confusion over telehealth reimbursement. Others, however, have seen some positive changes. One provider said, “COVID allowed us to engage more with insurance companies both on our safety commitment and in proactive collaborations.”
Providers overwhelmingly expect health insurance companies to continue expanded coverage for telehealth, citing its usefulness even outside COVID-19. As one provider pointed out, “It reduces [my patients’] travel/commute time to see me, it’s safe, we are not putting each other at risk by meeting in person and they are deriving the same if not greater benefit by meeting via telehealth.”
How have your patient relationships and expectations been shaped by COVID-19?
30% of respondents said that their relationship with their patients is moderately different now, while only 11% saw no difference, and 15% saw a complete difference.
In all, the majority of providers saw at least some change to the provider-patient relationship. The presence of telehealth is commonly cited as a cause of this change. “Clients are expressing themselves in a different way with telehealth. My clients report feeling more able to express themselves from the privacy of their homes.” But it can also be negative, as another provider said, “Patients are angry and bitter – [they] have very little patience with telemedicine glitches of which there are many.”
Patients are also increasingly looking to providers for guidance and reassurance: “I believe they appreciate the safe and secure holding our time provides to them, [and] the ideas I share to help them feel more grounded.” As a result, however, some providers reported feeling more pressure: “They expect us to know how to handle everything even when no one really knows what is going on.”
What process improvements do you want to see now and in the future?
Overwhelmingly, providers want telehealth to continue being widely used and covered by insurance companies. “In the past I was not interested in telehealth, but after being forced to use it during COVID-19 I see the benefits it provides,” admitted one provider.
Providers revealed that they would welcome even more person-to-person contact from AllWays Health Partners along with more detailed patient benefit information. We'll be using this feedback to make some upcoming changes. Check out our Roadmap 2020 enhancements for more information.
Join Provider Roundtable
Network providers, do these survey results align with your experiences? Join Provider Round table to participate in the follow-up surveys about COVID-19. As a Roundtable member, you'll be able to weigh in on a variety of topics — and you'll also be the first to learn about new products and services. Click here to sign up for Provider Roundtable.