Just imagine learning the dermatology practice you spent years building must close its doors under the threat of COVID-19. That was the reality for thousands of dermatologists at the onset of the pandemic, with one urban-based academic dermatology practice canceling nearly 11,000 appointments in March 2020.
In a 2021 NIH study, researchers found that “in-person office visits were strictly limited and were reserved for serious, life-threatening dermatologic diseases or those conditions that, if not addressed within 72 hours, would land the patient in the already overwhelmed emergency department.”
The message was clear: If dermatology clinics hope to reopen, they need to innovate. Even now, as healthcare providers welcome back patients, processes and technology hastily adopted in response to COVID-19 concerns have claimed a permanent foothold in delivering healthcare, particularly dermatology. If today’s dermatology clinics plan to compete, exploring some of the enduring trends in inpatient care is an excellent place to start.
Here are four trends in dermatological care that are helping clinics not only reopen but redefine the patient experience.
1. Outsourced Medical Billing
As clinics feel added pressure to cut overhead costs, many outsource their billing tasks to streamline office processes and cut expenses.
Partnering with a medical billing service specializing in EMR, CPT coding, track billing compliance, and other time-saving functions can help scalable strategies. It will streamline your office workflow, offset the expenses associated with hiring and training your staff to handle complicated and often time-consuming billing issues with insurance companies, and help you focus on delivering terrific, personalized patient care.
2. Digital Transformation to EMR
The CDC found that 85.9 percent of office-based physicians use an EMR or EHR system for organizing patient files. By comparison, a study conducted by researchers Olivia Katamanin and Alex M. Glazer, MD, found that 86 percent of dermatologists surveyed currently use or have used EHR in the past.
Although the collective opinions of technology differ among dermatologists polled, continued improvements to the digital technology hope to streamline claims and billing processes while also simplifying access to patient files, reducing errors, updating test results, linking digital imaging files, and acting as a foundation for self-service patient portals.
3. Adding Telehealth Services
Telehealth services were a strategic solution during the pandemic for doctors to follow up with patients who couldn’t meet in person. Now it’s a desired feature for patients. Based on claim lines, which track individual procedures displayed on an insurance claim, US News and World Report showed an 8,336 percent increase nationally from April 2019 to April 2020.
A recent survey found that, of the patients who used telehealth services,
- 65 percent liked the convenience,
- 63 percent appreciated not being exposed to other sick patients,
- 44 percent favored the ease of scheduling appointments, and
- 38 percent noted the simplicity of scheduling follow-up appointments.
Although clinics no longer restrict in-person visits, telehealth technology’s versatility and accessibility increase options for streamlined dermatopathology labs and clinic partnerships.
4. Shift Treatment Focus to Include Skin Conditions Associated with COVID-19
Although rare, new studies show distinct cutaneous manifestations associated with COVID-19 cases. In a JAMA study, researchers Kanade Shinkai, MD, and Anna L. Bruckner, MD, MSCS, encouraged an understanding of pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection among dermatologists.
According to the study, “It will be important for dermatologists to pursue rigorous prospective research to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the true prevalence and natural history of SARS-CoV-2 infection and skin findings, determine whether cutaneous manifestations signal important systemic associations, and identify the best management strategies.” Partnering with a dermlab specializing in identifying signs of these emerging conditions will help you better serve your patients.
The face of dermatology is changing. As clinics explore ways to respond to an evolving industry, a shift to enduring trends like streamlined office processes, digital resources, flexible technology-based patient services, and specialized care is helping move dermatology services toward a more efficient, scalable, and trendy personalized patient experience.
To expand your dermatology practice with the latest trends in medical technology, you need a dermlab that can help you reach your goals to achieve streamlined, digital, innovative, and specialized patient care. To learn more about ways to update your practice with innovative digital dermatopathology lab services and tools, click here.