Digital Business & Livable Communities

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How Digital Business Strategies Like Telehealth Work to Improve Equitable Access to Services & Boost Quality Of Life

When COVID-19 hit, digital business solutions proved critical to maintaining service and business continuity across a broad spectrum of industries. The pandemic has revealed new possibilities for going beyond business as usual thought largely aspirational only months ago. The digital business evolution now taking place offers greater consumer access to all kinds of services, plus added business benefits, like boosting efficiency and helping to promote more livable communities. 

For Commute Options’ Community Engagement Coordinator and Oregon Get There Business Network expert, Kim Curley, “It comes down to the trip not taken. Fewer car trips taken helps make communities more livable with less traffic and air pollution. Plus, those without access to reliable transportation, have mobility issues or live some distance away have an alternative way to access services.”

Curley added, “Telehealth is a great example of what all digital business solutions can offer, which wasn’t so widely recognized or considered as attainable before COVID.”

Amid the rapid uptick in digital business adoption, the explosive growth in telehealth stands out in scope and scale. Like many health care providers at the onset of the COVID crisis, Mosaic Medical rapidly transitioned to telehealth to provide ongoing patient care at its network of 15 clinics across Central Oregon. 

“Mosaic already had plans to expand its telehealth services and create flexible work environments for staff before COVID. We basically took our strategic plan intended to be rolled out over two years and implemented it in a matter of days,” said Kim Swanson, Director of Behavioral Health. “And, when we switched over to doing 100 percent virtual visits at the onset of COVID, the typical rate of 25 percent patient no-shows plummeted and have stayed down since.” 

Swanson added, “Our patients are telling us that the convenience and accessibility of telehealth is speaking to them.”

Like Mosaic, Deschutes County Health Services, which provides mental health and addiction counseling, also ramped up telehealth services due to COVID and registered an uptick in patients making it to appointments. 

“With telehealth, we’ve seen better engagement among many of our patients in part because the transportation hurdles of making it into the clinic are just not there,” said Janice Garceau, deputy director at Deschutes County Health Services. “Being able to access behavioral health care from the privacy of your own home also helps reduce the stigma around seeking care that’s a barrier for some patients.” 

At Mosaic, Dr. Matt Mullane, a family practice physician, says he and his team have worked together to improve access and coordination of patient care through telehealth. Dr. Mullane also notes that his work efficiency has improved, which came as a “pleasant surprise.”

“Now that we are fully utilizing this tool, I think we’re going to do an incredible job taking care of patients. We are continuing to innovate how we deliver telehealth services, so patients receive the best care quickly, efficiently and conveniently,” said Dr. Mullane. “While virtual care does not replace in-person visits, it will certainly continue to be a significant way in which we provide patient care.” 

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