Is Your Organization Truly Ready for the Age of Virtual Care?
Written by Don Godbee
2 Min Read
The keys to standing up a sustainable virtual patient care program at scale
Virtual care is unquestionably the number one area of focus for providers, growing from a small part of the continuum of care to a primary means of patient management in 2020. A recent research report by the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that as much as $250 billion of current healthcare spending in the United States alone could be virtualized. Drilling down further into the report’s data, providers are now conducting 50 to 175 times the number of telehealth visits than they did prior to COVID-19.
It is short-sighted, however, to believe that this is a singular explosion that will recede eventually. It’s become clear that a number of standard care use cases will shift to virtual or remote methodologies as providers attempt to modernize their operations at scale. These include:
- On-demand virtual urgent care
- Specialist consultations
- Remote patient monitoring
- Virtual home health services
- Tech-enabled home medication administration
Additionally, it is more essential than ever for caregivers to keep their patients healthy while sheltering at home and in the years to come. The rise of telehealth and intelligent remote monitoring devices now allows patient populations to stay at home and manage their chronic care conditions and communicate on a real-time basis with the providers they trust. To that end, an increasingly expanding array of automated communication tools allows caregivers to use rule-based messaging to push everything from health coaching, post-discharge care instructions and appointment reminders through IVR, text, SMS and mobile alerts.
This will become key as overall consumer preferences shift to contactless models that offer safety in the short term, as well as convenience in the long term. Think of the venerable “office checkup”. Patient portals now enable patients to complete most of the registration formalities prior to stopping by the office. Tablet-based registration kiosks will likely need to facilitate this transition to a contactless methodology by offering facial recognition-based check-ins. The everyday examination will also largely become virtual, with many diagnostic procedures now possible through remote-controlled devices. Caregivers are beginning to do their patient rounds through virtual visits, and the convenience of this tech-led paradigm shift will only become more attractive in the years to come.
While healthcare providers have powered through the early panic-laden stages of the pandemic, they continue to face challenges inherent in managing the cost, complexity and security of upscaling their virtual care devices, personnel and services to this new paradigm of virtual care. To offer the same quality of care that patients have enjoyed during in-person visits, healthcare providers must provide an end-to-end virtual healthcare solution that incorporates:
- HIPAA-quality device security to protect sensitive patient data and allow for remote wiping of lost and stolen devices
- Phones, tablets and wearables that facilitate remote patient monitoring, communication and information gathering
- Easy remote device enrollment, configuration and management to keep these devices updated and effective
- Connectivity accessories to ensure that patients have ample bandwidth to receive services and download necessary software
- Rapid repair to replace malfunctioning devices in a 24-hour period
- Effective 24x7x365 help desk support from highly-trained agents familiar with your critical use cases
Healthcare providers are no strangers to deploying devices for patients outside a clinical environment, but they’re not experts at creating a consistent, intuitive experience for these same patients while supporting and managing this at an imposing and unfamiliar scale. At a time when their focus on the quality of patient care has never been needed more, healthcare providers must also answer the call of providing a simplified and sustainable virtual care solution that is effective for both their caregivers and their patients.
Now, more than ever, providers must see this scenario as the unprecedented opportunity it is to engage tools and partnerships to help them modernize the digital patient experience. The continuum of care – both for disruptive events such as a pandemic and routine preventative services and monitoring going forward – depends on it.