What is Virtual Healthcare?
Virtual healthcare is the delivery of health services to a patient outside of a health system using technology such as telephones, video, mobile apps, text-based messaging, and other communication platforms. Although virtual care is enabled by these technologies, it is more than that: the actual provision of care to faraway patients via technology is known as virtual healthcare.
Virtual healthcare is critical for health systems to reach and serve more people while also solving resource and manpower limitations. Second views, consultations, chronic illness treatment, and remote monitoring of certain conditions are all possible with virtual healthcare.
The terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are often used to describe virtual healthcare. The powers of virtual healthcare are limited by these terms. Virtual healthcare, in its broadest sense, is the ability to see and interact with a patient who is not in the office, regardless of the technology utilized.
Increasing Use of Virtual Healthcare
Because of various factors, including upcoming legislation, health payer influence, and consumer demand, more than 96 percent of health systems anticipate to enhance their virtual healthcare capabilities. In addition, private firms are incorporating virtual healthcare into their employee-based insurance programs. To cut employee health expenditures, health plan benefit use of virtual healthcare increased from 63 percent in 2017 to 74 percent in 2018. Virtual care is being driven by these policies.
Virtual Healthcare v.s. Telehealth: What is the difference?
“Telehealth,” “telemedicine,” and “telepractice” are all terms used to describe virtual healthcare. In theory, they are similar, but they are not the same. A component of virtual healthcare is telehealth. The complete provision of care is included in virtual healthcare.
Virtual healthcare encompasses a variety of categories and solutions aimed at providing care to patients who live far away. Telehealth technology includes the technology that connects a provider with a patient, whether by telephone or videoconferencing equipment.
Virtual healthcare allows for real-time connection between a real doctor and a patient, resulting in improved care, particularly in impoverished areas. Virtual health also uses technology to improve the delivery of care. Virtual health initiatives, according to studies, can help providers save money, enhance clinical results, promote patient involvement, and broaden access to care.
In a peer-reviewed study, one large health system found that direct-to-consumer pediatric telemedicine, for example, reduced emergency department and urgent care utilization, as well as the costs associated with it. The study also discovered that without “telemedicine” service, 28% of parents would have gone to the emergency room.
Benefits of Virtual Healthcare
For both patients and health systems, virtual healthcare has numerous benefits.
Better access to care: Patients in remote, rural, or underprivileged locations may benefit from virtual healthcare appointments. For many people, virtual healthcare can be a lifesaver, especially when there is a shortage of skilled physicians near their homes. According to the American Telemedicine Association, virtual healthcare technology can also open up care channels.
Treatment for urgent symptoms: Patients can meet with caregivers nearly immediately for a first appointment. Patients may require in-person follow-up care, but they can get a head start on the initial process from wherever they are.
Best care from anywhere: Telehealth is assisting in expanding access to doctors and services regardless of the patient’s location – another city or another nation. Retirees, for example, frequently travel and may require home care. It’s easier to arrange treatment with people who are on the go with virtual visits.
Reduced healthcare costs: According to Towers Watson, virtual healthcare might save $6 billion dollars each year. The rationale for this is improved chronic disease management, shorter travel times, and fewer or shorter hospital stays. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
The advantages of virtual healthcare for health systems are slightly different. Patients can benefit from virtual healthcare because it can supplement human resources, enhance clinical capacity, and improve efficiencies, in addition to the benefits outlined above. Another advantage of virtual healthcare is that it helps health systems to nudge patients toward more active participation in their care.
Virtual healthcare can also help in-person tests run more smoothly by collecting patient information, obtaining symptom data, and identifying viable treatment choices prior to the visit. Physicians save time by gathering essential patient information ahead of time, allowing them to discuss treatment choices and communicate more with the patient. Direct virtual care communication with a patient prior to an office visit allows a medical practice and the patient to save time. Virtual care technologies are expected to save roughly five minutes every contact per physician, according to estimates.
Check out this article we wrote on how to find the right primary care physician for you.
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