“When the going gets tough… the tough go hybrid.”
For the past 3 years, Chanl Health has been working with programs across the country as they explore and implement virtual hybrid rehab solutions to improve access for patients. But 2020 is definitely different, and we have learned so much over the past ten months as COVID-19 has accelerated the need for patient options.
Since March, many programs across the country have rapidly implemented virtual programs as a way to stay connected with their patients. With patient care limited by centers closing or operating at reduced capacity, it was critical to stay in communication and engaged with patients. We saw that the Chanl Health app and web portal were a crucial tool to keep delivering the core components of cardiac rehab remotely, through managed care plans, education, assessments and communications. Programs stepped up and found creative ways to deliver a proven product: Cardiac Rehab. And Chanl Health learned alongside all of you, adapting the platform to serve pulmonary rehab programs, enhancing education offerings, improving workflows to be more efficient, and integrating a virtual real-time audio-visual component.
As we begin to emerge from this pandemic, virtual tools and hybrid options have become a way of life for our programs and patients. As Steven Keteyian, Director of Preventive Cardiology at the Henry Ford Medical Group, stated on a recent TakeHEART call, “I have viewed COVID as an opportunity, and we have learned an enormous amount. This is where cardiac rehabilitation is heading, and I encourage everyone to get on board over the next year.”
Even prior to COVID, we all know that enrollment in cardiac rehab was low, with less than 25% of eligible patients attending. For a long time, we have needed to find ways to reach more patients with the proven benefits of rehab. With the growing traction of virtual care and telehealth services over the past 10 months, initiatives like the CDC’s Million Hearts, and organizations like AACVPR are starting to lean in on virtual delivery, and now see it as a critical part of increasing participation to 70% by 2022. We know that virtual options in no way take away from center-based programs, which remains our gold standard… BUT we must have options to reach those that cannot or will not attend 36 onsite sessions. Robert Barry from Henry Ford once said, in reference to rehab staff utilizing virtual care, “there is a reason why carpenters have so many tools in their toolbox; different projects require different tools.” Hybrid rehab may not be for everyone, but as we continue to see, it is for some!
With the light at the end of the tunnel starting to emerge for COVID (knock on wood), health systems understand that it will not be back to “business as usual” in healthcare. Michael Synder M.D., a professor at Stanford School of Medicine says we have hit a turning point for telehealth services. “We used to see 1,000 patients a week with telehealth and now we see 3,000 patients a day.” Our patients have adapted, technology is no longer a barrier (62% of adults over 70 have smartphones), and video conferencing services like Zoom have become a household word. Ignoring the wide variety of benefits and trying to return back to the way things were before would be such an enormous waste.
This is all new learning for us in cardiac and pulmonary rehab. Change is hard and we know there is hesitancy. As we ask our patients on a daily basis to make changes, we need to look at ourselves and programs and ask… how can WE change? How can WE think differently?
The time is now. Start small. Talk with others that have been doing this for a while. Virtual care is a part of the future of rehab. It is part of OUR future. When the going gets tough…the tough go hybrid.