Virtual Care – How Healthcare Has Moved Out of The Hospital
There is no doubt that virtual care is transforming the healthcare industry. According to The Wall Street Journal, the usage of virtual care is increasing at a rapid pace (it increased by 20% in 2015, 48% in 2016, and almost 75% in 2017!)
These numbers are not surprising considering the many advantages it offers. These benefits are extended to all the members of the healthcare industry, such as:
- Patients enjoy easy access to healthcare at lower costs and with greater convenience
- Doctors, physicians, and nurses can have flexible schedules and improved access to patients’ health and other information and improve the patient experience
- Healthcare organizations, hospitals, and management can decrease their administrative expenses and increase their productivity
What is virtual health care?
Virtual care is remote access to health-related services and information with the use of technology solutions.
The implementation of virtual care system has dramatically changed the overall healthcare system and has helped in improving the overall patient experience.
It is a wide term which encompasses all the ways healthcare providers interact with their patients without seeing them in person. For instance:
- Instead of in-person consulting, they treat their patients by using telemedicine.
- Doctors use different ways like live videos, audios, instant messages to communicate with their patients.
- Physicians remotely consult their patients after surgery through video communication or remotely monitor their vital signs and intervene when needed.
Typically, the following are the essential means of virtual care –
- Telephony: Telephony includes communication through telephone, which is generally used for consultations, collection of vital signs, and patient education. It enables the hospital staff to offer more effective care, which fulfills the patient’s requirement.
- Telemonitoring: Telemonitoring is another significant means of virtual care. With the help of in-house monitors, hospitals can interact with their patients and monitor their vital signs and symptoms. These vital signs and symptoms are securely communicated to all the stakeholders. The caregivers can immediately act if the vital signs are abnormal and then provide emergency services as early as possible.
The many benefits of virtual care to patients
The healthcare industry is booming at a rapid pace as the professionals are looking for innovative ways to increase their patient’s access to healthcare. The digital technology is making it easier to communicate and negating roadblocks in the healthcare system, which can impede their patient’s access to medical services.
- Convenience: Virtual care is convenient and fast. Patients typically waste a lot of their time in traffic and waiting for their consultation turn. The virtual visits not only reduce the consulting and waiting time, but they also enhance convenience for the patients.
- Managing chronic conditions: Hospitals use virtual care technologies to monitor ongoing health conditions of the patients suffering from chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer. Using virtual monitoring, hospitals can keep an eye on the patient’s health condition on a regular basis and take any immediate action if things go awry.
- Treating emergency: For handling any crisis, virtual care is efficient and effective. The patient can quickly contact and communicate with their healthcare providers and seek medical attention as soon as possible. This enhances the possibilities of immediate treatment.
- AI chatbots: Many hospitals and healthcare providers offer AI-based chatbots which are designed to supervise, and advice proper medical care to the patients. The patients can also ask their questions related to their symptoms and get instant health information. This is also a revolutionary technique of virtual care.
- Voice or video calls with doctors: Live video and voice call with the doctors and physicians is one of the best possible ways for patients to get in touch with their doctors. The patients can connect with their healthcare provider from the convenience of their home and get instant consultation without any hassles. It also helps hospitals optimize their staff and resources to address emergency patients.
- Remote facilities: Virtual care is ideal for remote access, and it is the best means of accessing healthcare in remote rural areas where the healthcare services are unavailable or difficult to access. If the patients live far away from the city or in another country, they can always stay connected with their physicians.
Convenience is one of the most significant benefits of virtual care for doctors, nurses, and patients alike. Through virtual care, doctors can answer the patient’s questions quickly and effectively, leading to higher patient satisfaction.
This efficiency also contributes to decreased workloads, reduced stress, and reduction in clinician burnout for the doctors. It offers more flexibility to healthcare providers, which ultimately improves their healthcare services.