Four Practitioner Predictions for the New Year

Kimberly O’Loughlin, CEO, Therapy BrandsKimberly O’Loughlin, CEO, Therapy Brands
With healthcare practitioners forced to learn new ways of working amid the disruptions of 2020, the new year ushers in the adoption of digital solutions and best practices spurred by a pandemic-sparked evolution. Here are four lessons we are taking into 2021:

1. Customer Input is Paramount

By now, most of us understand the value of telehealth. But here's the big secret: 74 percent of patients were open to using telehealth in 2013, yet healthcare practitioners were slow to adopt and there were limits and constraints in coverage. That changed with COVID, as both practitioners and patients experienced the benefits first-hand and regulatory constraints were relaxed. Now, 76% of patients are interested in using telehealth as an option going forward.

In 2021, with the consumerization of healthcare, we should be attuned to what customers want and expect in today’s digital age. Nearly half of patients are frustrated by their practice's lack of digital capabilities. This year, we’ll continue to see the adoption of solutions that include tele-health, patient portals, patient messaging, electronic prescribing (e-RX), payment processing and connected devices. These solutions expand access to care, save time, improve communication, enable better care, lower costs and increase satisfaction.

2. Agility Takes Center Stage

According to a recent WHO survey, 93 percent of countries experienced significant mental health therapy disruptions during the pandemic, despite the largest ever demand for such care. The market is large, patient demand is increasing and, in some cases, is outstripping supply.

And while some practices weren’t able to weather the changes of 2020, others did, and in some cases, emerged stronger. By leveraging technology such as on-line scheduling, video visits, revenue cycle management services, digital prescriptions and online payment vehicles, many practices gained resiliency amid a rapidly changing landscape.

3. Think (More) Outside the Box

At Therapy Brands, we've helped thousands of practices evolve with a modern, data-rich, patient ecosystem where care takes place across settings and across time. We believe many therapists will choose to expand their business, leverage technologies, forge new partnerships and further evolve their approaches to care delivery in 2021.

Some of these strategies may include:

● New monetization methods (such as Highmark Health’s VITAL Innovation Program or Mercy Health’s database analytics program)
o Utilizing hybrid models of telehealth and sessions for other purposes such as parent training
o Rethinking patient education and engagement
o Rethinking therapy environments and partnerships
o Opening new lines of service or expanding into adjacent markets
o Leveraging cloud-enabled, purpose-built software that can scale, accommodate multi-specialties and multi-locations
o Embracing the goals of the therapy market and using analytics solutions to better understand quality, costs and satisfaction

4. Connection is Key

Although the mental and behavioral therapy industry has experienced significant change over this past year, one belief has held true: connection is the key to better patient outcomes. Teletherapy, patient portals, patient messaging, patient payments and many other connected technologies are permeating the therapy space because they improve the patient-provider connection.

We predict that investments centered around the patient including enhanced reporting and analytics, enhanced clinical decision support and improved patient experiences will become even more important in 2021.

2021 Will Be (Another) Year of Change

The global pandemic, rising healthcare costs, increasing prevalence and de-stigmatization of mental and behavioral health issues, improvements and mandates for coverage, changing consumer expectations and mounting pressures are the tailwinds that will help to enable change and the adoption of technology.

Over the past six months, Therapy Brands has helped facilitate millions of teletherapy sessions, enhanced access to care, provided critical administrative and billing relief to support practices’ financial health, and helped practices usher in new-and-improved workflows across the therapy infrastructure. We are excited to build on that momentum in continuing to partner with our providers in bringing high quality, complaint, innovative solutions to the therapy market.