Virtual Healthcare: Virtually a Click Away
The healthcare landscape is constantly changing to adapt to new research findings and incorporate new treatment approaches. With technological advancements, including widespread broadband access and an increase in Internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, computers, and tablets, and how healthcare is delivered is also rapidly changing.
Virtual healthcare is a recent development that is expected to completely revolutionize the way medical services are delivered around the world.
What Is Virtual Healthcare?
Virtual healthcare is the use of supporting technology, including mobile apps, video, sensors, text-based messaging, and social networking, to provide health services in a manner that is unhampered by time or geographical location. Virtual healthcare technology enables real-time “virtual” meetings between patients and medical practitioners anywhere in the world.
What Does Virtual Healthcare Offer?
So far, virtual healthcare is utilized mainly for reception, consultation, and status reports and less on comprehensive diagnosis or treatment. However, as more cutting-edge technologies continue to emerge, physicians may be able to use this technology to diagnose and treat more serious conditions.
Virtual healthcare allows professionals to keep track of situations or medical processes from remote locations. For example, monitoring of patients at home has been demonstrated to be a valuable tool for delivering personalized treatments to patients with life-threatening conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, where re-hospitalizations happen far too often because of poor communication or lack of transparency regarding the patient’s condition.
Additionally, virtual dermatology visits are becoming increasingly prevalent. In this type of virtual setting, the patient can send a detailed picture of a skin rash, pigmented spot, or any other skin condition for an instant assessment. Virtual psychotherapy is another area that is growing at a dramatic rate.
Where Can You Use Virtual Healthcare?
At the moment, this service isn’t available in most hospitals, but access is expanding rapidly. In some cities, hospitals are establishing telehealth centers to handle patients.
For instance, Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine unveiled its Connected Care Center back in February 2018 with 50 workers, round-the-clock access to care, and a platform to treat patients with chronic illnesses at home.
Other companies with e-health programs include South Dakota-based Avera Health, Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, and Utah’s Intermountain Healthcare.
How to Access Virtual Healthcare
Insurance isn’t necessary when it comes to accessing virtual health services. This means that uninsured patients can realize major savings in out-of-pocket healthcare costs by shifting from on-site medical services to virtual ones. Of course, the insured can also enjoy a wide array of benefits by embracing virtual healthcare services.
Your health insurance may cover virtual healthcare, as it is a requirement in 34 states. However, in some states, a patient-doctor relationship needs to be established with an on-site visit before a medical center can bill for a virtual visit.
What are the Benefits of Virtual Healthcare?
There are many benefits to using virtual healthcare, and these are:
Promotes Patient Independence and Satisfaction
Virtual healthcare enables patients to remain self-sufficient and receive quality care from the comfort of their own home or office, eliminating wait times and minimizing time away from home or work. It also gives them peace of mind knowing that their health status can be checked on instantly.
Facilitates Efficient and Affordable Healthcare
This innovative tool eliminates unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Primary care providers work closely with specialists to make virtual visits successful. They minimize the number of hospital visits, thereby lowering expenses.
Real-time Documentation of Vital Symptoms
With the help of telemonitoring devices, important symptoms and signs in patients can be documented and transmitted to a monitoring center where physicians can closely keep track of ongoing chronic conditions.
Facilitates Consultations Among Providers
The same technology allows providers to consult with each other and get expert opinions almost instantly. This is crucial in cases where quick decisions need to be made (i.e., heart attack and stroke).
Another major advantage that doctors, clinicians, and nurses get from this technology is the high level of convenience. Some needs may be better addressed through virtual healthcare rather than on-site visits. This eases the workload and minimizes stress, which is an essential factor in this era of prevalent clinician burnout.
Saves Costs for Health Organizations
By integrating virtual care technology, health organizations can realize great cost savings. Some health organizations have discovered that telehealth visits can be up to 70% less expensive compared to in-person visits; a recent study revealed that virtual visits save almost $100 each visit compared to in-person visits.
Enhances Physician Capacity
Virtual healthcare has the capability to enhance the capacity of primary care providers, without hiring or training more specialists. It may turn out to be a helpful tool, especially in the wake of the American Association of Medical Colleges’ predictions of a shortage of nearly 40,000 primary care physicians (PCP) within the next ten years.
Lowers Risk of Transmitting Communicable Diseases
Thanks to its ability to lower the amount of physical interaction between patients and physicians, this health technology may reduce the chances of spreading communicable diseases.
Patients with a cold or fever can receive initial consultation online rather than going to see a clinician on-site where they risk transferring germs to others.
The convenience and cost-effectiveness of virtual healthcare services help both patients and practitioners. As technology evolves and the health industry continues to grow, people can expect to receive the treatment that they require from the comfort of their own home or office.