The Future of Virtual Healthcare: Emerging Trends in Telemedicine
Why Virtual Healthcare is Growing
- Convenience: Virtual care offers patients an easier way to access healthcare, without traveling to a facility. This is especially beneficial for those in rural areas or fitting in appointments with busy schedules. Saving patients time also saves patients money as well.
- Cost-effectiveness: Virtual care reduces expenses by eliminating unnecessary in-person visits. Data collected by Cigna (US health insurance provider) shows that via telemedicine cost savings are $93 less for in-person visits, $120 less for specialist visits, and $141 less than visiting an urgent care facility.
- Accessibility: Virtual care breaks down geographic barriers to improve access for underserved populations.
- Quality: Research shows that patients are satisfied with treatment generally via telehealth, proving the effectiveness of telemedicine as a viable care.
Take Note: Healthcare Practices Projected to Go Virtual
Several fields are poised to make the shift to virtual care:
- Virtual visits with mental health providers offer confidential, convenient, and increased access to support.
- According to the RAND corporation, with the onset of COVID19 in December 2020, in-person teletherapy visits decreased by 50%.
- 78% of teletherapy patients believe that it is just as effective as an in-person therapy visit.
- Over 60% of providers confirm that they prefer providing care through teletherapy.
Chronic Disease Management
- As a tool for patients with chronic conditions, telehealth improves the access to quality care, increasing both patient and provider engagement.
- Studies found that telemedicine provided care that was equally as beneficial as in-person care.
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices greatly complement the patient care model, allowing clinicians to better serve their patients with updated diagnostics instantly.
- Specifically for contraceptive care, gynecologic virtual care fills a gap and improves women's health outcomes.
- This same study found that patients trust telemedicine for primary care, family planning, and reproductive services; overall adoption of telemedicine as a provision for women’s health care was found to be extremely positive.
- The COVID-10 pandemic highlighted the critical need for increased investment in women’s health, particularly among women with fair or poor health. This sector of women was the most underserved group amongst men and women, which calls for a greater accessibility of women’s health services.
- Virtual pediatric care balances the access, quality, and equity of care for children.
- Similar to primary and family medicine, pediatric conditions, even those with more serious conditions, can be solved with using telemedicine either solely or alongside in-person care.
- RPM devices as an integrated part of care for elderly adults can assist and make clinicians more efficient during their visits with patients.
- With 43% of elderly adults experiencing telemedicine at least once, the prevalence of telehealth will be a growing need in the future as well.
Preparing Your Practice for the Future
To ready your practice for the rise of virtual care:
- Invest in secure telehealth software and technology.
- Train staff on delivering virtual care. Telehealth.hhs.gov provides an introduction.
- Craft a telehealth implementation strategy and workflows. This guide outlines considerations.
- Market virtual care offerings to prospective patients.
- Partner with a healthcare HR concierge service like Medcase for end-to-end support. They can provide services like recruiting, staffing, payroll, compliance, and more to allow you to focus on delivering excellent virtual care as your practice scales.
- Stay updated on the latest virtual care advancements and regulations. The Virtual Care Playbook is a great resource.
The shift towards virtual healthcare is accelerating. By proactively preparing, providers can position themselves to deliver high-quality, convenient care to meet patient needs now and in the future.