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What We Learned From the Pandemic: Virtual Care

Posted by Sanja Kalender on 2021-11-03

Virtual care improves the patient experience through convenience, quality of care, and step by step all encompassing education. Virtual care use has been an increasingly significant topic due to COVID19. During the early stages of the outbreak, virtual visits accounted for roughly 70% of total visits in the United States. Comparatively, only 8% of Americans used it during the pre-pandemic level (Harvard Business Review). Through the pandemic we have learned the importance of virtual care and the benefits it has to offer.

Telehealth has been a crucial resource for patients during the pandemic. According to the CDC, Telehealth gave people access to care even when many “outpatient offices were closed or had limited operating hours.” Further, Telehealth minimized the risk of COVID-19 transmission, therefore, reducing mortality and morbidity. According to Skye’s research, “65.6% of Americans felt hesitant or doubtful about the quality of telemedicine”, but now “87.82% want to continue using Telehealth services for non-urgent consultations after COVID-19 has passed.” With the increasing use and awareness of Telehealth we have the opportunity to take advantage of this tool in more ways than ever before.

Telehealth could change the healthcare system for the better if we realize where it’s beneficial and where there are limitations. First, this tool saves time for patients and staff members, because commuting to the office is unnecessary. In addition, remote access to health services can increase patient participation for those who are medically or socially vulnerable or who do not have access to providers. Telehealth contributes to preserving the patient-provider relationship when an in-person visit is not practical or feasible. Moreover, Telehealth reduces the strain on healthcare systems by reducing the surge of patient demand on facilities and decreasing the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by healthcare providers. It’s important to incorporate Telehealth for convenience, saving time, money, and strengthening the patient-provider relationship.

According to a MSI International study in June 2021, “80% of Americans are in favor of using remote patient monitoring and nearly one half are very favorable.” This innovative solution attracts new patients, helps retain current patients, and eliminates the quality of care gap received at a hospital versus at home. Remote patient monitoring has created an easy way to improve access to care, strengthen patient and staff engagement, reduce patient expenses, lower readmission rates, provide opportunities for reimbursement, allow provider flexibility during staffing shortages, and increase net patient revenue. Above all, it allows hospitals to save a significant amount of money. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, “Remote monitoring could save more than $8,000 annually per patient.” These advantages gained from remote patient monitoring will help providers have exponential growth over time.

The quality of care is no longer limited by one’s location. Due to remote patient monitoring, providers now have access to patients in rural or secluded areas. Those within this demographic are also given a new opportunity to connect with specialists that they otherwise would not be able to meet with. Moreover, this tool has created a shift in the quality of care received at home. Patients have the option to reduce hospital costs and be more involved in their care. Thus, increasing patient engagement. With a better understanding of their circumstance and the step by step resources, such as OBERD’s Careguide, there is a higher probability of patients following the recommended recovery process. Further, this tool helps decrease their chance of readmission and alleviate staff pressure due to less patients needing hospital care. Remote patient monitoring is an engaging, efficient, and cost-effective solution for patients and providers.

With virtual care we are given the ability to have a hybrid model for healthcare. Not all care can be virtual, knowing where Telehealth can be advantageous and where it can be limiting prompts growth and development for hospitals. Virtual appointments and remote patient monitoring are beneficial for the patient and practice, because these tools provide an innovative solution to transition quality care from the hospital to one’s home.