During this time of uncertainty, there has been an increase in consumer demand for virtual healthcare services, which has put added pressure on providers and payers to expand delivery options for on-demand health services.
A survey from Accenture, which included 1,501 consumers who answered questions online, found that most people are willing to utilize virtual healthcare services. For the 20% of respondents who had received care virtually, the reasons they cited most often for seeking virtual care are:
- Greater convenience than traditional in-person healthcare services (37%)
- Familiarity using technology to manage their health (34%)
- Curiosity to try virtual health (34%)
Consumers said they would be more likely to “try virtual” if encouraged by a physician or familiar healthcare provider.
According to the research, today’s consumers are demanding a combination of in-person and virtual health services. More than 75% of those surveyed said they would be interested in receiving healthcare virtually some or most of the time.
What is Virtual Health?
Virtual health includes health care innovations like virtual appointment kiosks and portals, remote consultations, and electronic personal health records. These components work together to allow for easier access to care, such as virtual wellness coaching, remote monitoring, video visits, and online health chats, among several other benefits that we will examine more closely below.
Virtual health combines clinical care and professional collaboration through telemedicine, telehealth, and collaboration at-a-distance to connect clinicians, patients, care teams, and health professionals to provide health services, support patient self-management, and coordinate care across the care continuum.
Specific to physician-patient encounters, virtual health enables live and asynchronous clinical interactions, clinical practice, and patient management supported by a wide range of communication, collaboration, and cognitive computing technologies along with digital devices and data.
Benefits of Virtual Health and Telemedicine
As you can see, there are many benefits of offering Virtual Health. For patients and medical practices, the use of telemedicine technology allows patients to receive follow up care and chronic illness management from their own home on the devices they already own and use. This follow-up care is especially crucial for those who are homebound or have difficulty arranging travel.
For healthier patients, it reduces travel time and costs and requires less time away from work. As an added benefit, patients do not have exposure to other potentially contagious patients. In short, telemedicine removes many of the barriers preventing people from actively managing their health.
Here are the main benefits for most patients:
Improved Access – Not only does telemedicine improve access to patients, but it also allows physicians and health facilities to expand their reach beyond their own offices. Telemedicine has a unique capacity to increase service to millions of new patients.
Cost Efficiencies – Telemedicine has been shown to reduce the cost of healthcare and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, reduced travel times, and fewer or shorter hospital stays.
Improved Quality – Studies have consistently shown that the quality of healthcare services delivered via telemedicine are as good those given in traditional in-person consultations.
Virtual Health Care technology is excellent for providers as well. It can help extend clinical services to reach more patients efficiently and profitably. It helps improve health outcomes by increasing patient compliance with follow up and chronic illness management. Virtual Health Care strengthens patient relationships without putting additional strain on the medical staff.
There are significant benefits to medical practice, as well. By utilizing virtual health, your practice can expand access to care. It improves clinical workflows by helping your staff capture each patient’s reason for the call or visit quickly, prioritize care delivery, suggest the best treatment guidelines, and identify additional information resources. Virtual health care can also support communication along the care continuum.
What does this mean for my practice?
Technology is providing new methods to assist your clients by responding to the need for better communication. It’s also creating a competitive landscape the medical field has never seen before. Embracing this new trend will enable you to maintain your patients for years to come.
Contact SBMA for more information on employee benefits packages that include virtual health services!