What Is Virtual Healthcare?
To provide health services to a patient outside of a health system, virtual healthcare refers to the use of technology, including phones, video, mobile apps, text-based messaging, and other communication platforms. Virtual healthcare is made possible by these technologies, but it is more than that. The actual delivery of care to patients in faraway locations via technology is known as virtual healthcare. Virtual healthcare is crucial for health systems to reach and serve more people while solving resource and human limitations. Additionally, second views, consultations, managing chronic illnesses, and remote monitoring of specific conditions can all be facilitated by virtual healthcare.
The phrases "telehealth" and "telemedicine," which are the most often used terms to refer to virtual healthcare, have limitations. Virtual healthcare, in its entirety or part, is the capacity to engage and visit a patient who is outside of the office virtually, regardless of the technology involved.
Why virtual healthcare use is increasing
Because of several factors, including impending legislation, the influence of health payers, and consumer demand, more than 96 percent of health systems anticipate expanding their virtual healthcare capabilities. Due to past difficulties in receiving money for the services, upcoming legislation is anticipated to make it simpler for providers to generate income from virtual care-provided services. In addition, private employers now offer virtual healthcare services as part of their employee-based insurance policies. Virtual care is being driven by these policies.
How is virtual healthcare different from telehealth?
Although the terms "telehealth," "telemedicine," and "telepractice" are frequently used to refer to virtual healthcare, they are not the same thing. A part of virtual healthcare is telehealth. The entire process of providing care is covered by virtual healthcare. A variety of subcategories and products make up virtual healthcare, which is intended to serve patients who live far away. Telehealth technology, which includes the equipment that connects a clinician and a patient, enables a connection with the patient, whether via telephone or videoconferencing equipment. The real-time connection between a patient and actual practitioner is made possible through virtual healthcare, improving care overall and particularly in underprivileged areas. Utilizing technology, virtual health enhances the way care is delivered. According to studies, virtual health programs can help providers cut costs, enhance clinical results, boost patient involvement, and increase access to care.
What is a virtual nurse?
Virtual nurses are human caregivers that offer care to patients through telehealth-based virtual technologies, even though some virtual care technologies, such as chatbots and automated assistants, are referred to as "virtual nurses." Similar to doctors and other healthcare professionals, virtual nurses offer patients the same level of care. Virtual nurses interact with patients, assist them in managing their diseases, keep track of their progress and outcomes, and offer coaching as necessary.
Benefits of virtual healthcare
Virtual healthcare has several advantages for both individuals and health systems.
Better access to care: For patients who live in remote, rural, or underprivileged locations, virtual healthcare appointments are promised. For many people, access to virtual healthcare can be a lifesaving option, especially if there aren't enough skilled medical professionals available close to where they live. The technology used in virtual healthcare can widen access to care.
Better treatment: According to the American Medical Association, patient care can be improved by using virtual healthcare. In addition, the AMA claims that as access increases and more treatments are provided remotely, relationships between patients and doctors become stronger.
Convenience: Patients lose more time than one might imagine on typical doctor appointments, whether it's waiting in the waiting room or stuck in stop-and-go traffic, claims AARP. Travel requires patience and time.
Managing chronic illnesses: Many healthcare systems use virtual healthcare to keep track of continuing medical issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, and even COPD.
Treating urgent symptoms: Patients can make an initial appointment with a caregiver nearly immediately. Patients may need to receive follow-up care in person, but they can jumpstart the initial procedure from wherever they are.
Best care anywhere: Telehealth is assisting in extending access to doctors and services, regardless of the patient's location, whether it be in their city or elsewhere. For instance, retirees frequently travel and may require home care. Coordinating care with those who are on the go is made simpler through virtual visits.
Cost savings in healthcare: According to Towers Watson, virtual healthcare might save $6 billion annually. The cause is improved chronic disease management, shorter travel distances, and fewer or shorter hospital stays. All parties win with such.
Self-care is more effective with virtual care for chronic diseases. For instance, people with diabetes can manage their lives, diets, and health using mobile technology. They lessen the requirement for face-to-face meetings by doing this.
The advantages of virtual healthcare are a little bit different for health systems. In addition to offering patients the advantages outlined above, virtual healthcare can extend clinical capacity, increase efficiency, and complement human resources. The ability for health systems to transfer patients to involve them more in their care is another advantage of virtual healthcare. Alternatively put, active patients. By gathering patient information, symptom data, and potential treatment alternatives before the visit, virtual healthcare can help speed up in-person examinations. Physicians can explore potential treatment choices and spend more time with patients by gathering this patient data in advance. Before an office visit, the medical practice and the patient can communicate directly via virtual care to save time. Virtual care technologies are expected to produce estimates of roughly five minutes for each physician encounter.
In today's healthcare system, virtual healthcare is essential. Better outcomes and healthier populations result from nurses' and caregivers' capacity to connect with patients wherever they may be.
Virtual healthcare is crucial for health systems to reach and serve individuals while addressing their business restrictions. Additionally, second views, consultations, managing chronic illnesses, and remote monitoring of specific conditions can all be facilitated by virtual healthcare.
Health systems must respond with workable solutions that satisfy this requirement as virtual healthcare's capabilities advance and its use becomes more widespread.