In the era of a pandemic and serious medical complications with now cure, one thing that’s shaping the medical industry is Virtual Healthcare. Busy work schedules and congested hospitals are some of the reasons why people are avoiding face to face interviews with the doctor. However, technology has changed the way we interact, and you can now schedule an appointment from anywhere. In this article guide, we look at virtual healthcare and some of the challenges and benefits it brings.
What is Virtual Healthcare?
This is a term that, by now, you have seen around frequently. It simply means that the patient virtually visits the physician. It’s a digital platform with both audio and video connectivity that allows clinicians and patients to engage online and in a real-time environment. The meetings happen virtually from any location.
Primarily, this healthcare platform is normally used for consultations, status reports, and check-ins. It doesn’t mainly involve in-depth medical diagnosis and treatment. However, it’s a platform that’s still evolving, and we expect more upgrades in the future.
How is Virtual Healthcare Different from Telehealth?
Often, Telehealth and virtual healthcare are two terms that get used interchangeably. However, they are not the same. Telehealth comprises of virus technology-driven aspects of healthcare, including remote healthcare.
The technology is quite comprehensive as it tries to combine all the methods that healthcare experts implement. This including how to keep track of the body’s vitals after surgery, reporting after the in-person visits, and discussions relating to possible further treatment options, among others.
With telehealth, the patient doesn’t involve seeing the patient in person. There are other means of communication that are used to deliver information. This includes the likes of messages, video platforms, audio platforms, and notifications.
These are the channels of interaction between the physician and the patient. They can use them to provide medical aid, interact one-on-one with the patient, offer medical suggestions, and even provide recommendations to local physicians.
In general, we can say that telehealth or telemedicine is used to deal with common ailments mainly. In addition to that, it’s a good platform to manage chronic ailments that require long-term care. Healthcare experts need to differentiate these digital platforms to know when and how to use them.
However, we can describe virtual healthcare as a subsection of telehealth. This is because telehealth also involves communication through video platforms. We can say the main difference between the two is that virtual medicine is strictly virtual.
Challenges Faced by Virtual Healthcare
Even though this new platform has many benefits, it’s important to understand that it does run seamlessly. So, while institutions would want to invest in this technology, they should know the challenges and issues to expect.
- Misdiagnosis: This is one of the most prominent challenges that this technology brings. Since the diagnosis is usually made virtually, it’s straightforward for the physician to misdiagnose some symptoms.
- Restricted treatment: With this kind of setup, there is very little that the physician can do, especially when it comes to treatment.
- Communication problems: Network problems, power issues, and missing out on important messages are some of the things that affect virtual treatment.
How Covid-19 Spurs a New Era in Virtual Healthcare
Technology, including the development of virtual healthcare apps, has changed the way patients interact with physicians. But with the presence of a pandemic such as Covid-19, this digital system has become more important than before.
The unexpected impact of the pandemic has created a shift that we didn’t know we needed. Healthcare facilities are now utilizing technological tools, and one of them is virtual technology. Patients don’t need to step foot in hospitals, ushering in a new era of virtual healthcare on the Covid 19 pandemic with aspects such as:
- Quick and New Services: With virtual healthcare applications, patients can access new services quickly. Patients can schedule doctor appointments when it suits them and even requests for on-demand visits when the need arises.
- Scaling up existing services: Doctors report that the number of routine visits and urgent care has increased massively thanks to the virtual system. The most interesting thing is that over 90% of those sessions involved first-time virtual visit patients.
- Wide outreach: It seems like digital healthcare is here to stay. With more interactive platforms and more accessibility to the internet and coordination with local agencies, its outreach will continue to extend.
Benefits of Virtual Healthcare
There are several benefits of people accessing healthcare services virtually. The most common ones include:
Better Quality Care
According to the American Medical Association, this program has significantly improved the quality of patient care. Reports indicate that there are now better physician-patient relationships than before. With access expanding, the relationship is also getting stronger.
Like it’s stated before, virtual appointments only mean that there is better access to care. Those living in remote and rural areas can now communicate with physicians without the need to schedule appointments. This is proving to be a lifesaving solution.
The routine doctor visits are expensive and also time-consuming. Many patients usually waste time when scheduling these visits, and the transport charges are also costly. Who wants to sit in traffic for minutes, especially when they are not feeling okay? With virtual healthcare technology, you can access medical opinions from anywhere.
Great for Emergencies
Medical emergencies happen now and then. Sometimes, the patient needs an immediate medical opinion, and they may not get if they plan trips to the hospital. Physicians can now prescribe prescriptions for initial use before scheduling follow-up appointments.
Suitable for Handling Chronic Conditions
Chronic conditions require long-term care. This includes the likes of high-blood pressure and diabetes. Instead of constantly scheduling those doctor visits, physicians can help caregivers manage these conditions from home via virtual healthcare delivery.
Overall, virtual medicine makes patients active, engaged, and informed. They become more conscious about monitoring their health, becoming more accountable, and aware of their healthcare plans.
In addition to that, it helps to enhance the coordination between the payer and the healthcare provider. This is because the whole process is usually very transparent, and it involves an easier verification of the medical expenses.
The Future of Virtual Health
Virtual consultation in healthcare has really changed the way doctors and patients interact. With the development of various virtual healthcare app platforms, this system isn’t about to slow down anytime soon. Patients and stakeholders can share content and still perform customized interactions remotely.
It’s important to understand how virtual reality is changing healthcare. Research shows that there has been an increase in medical access. This is because there is no need to book physical appointments. Besides that, automated services, as well as robotics, can help to enhance service administration. This is because clinicians will no longer need to handle routine tasks. As a result, they will have more chances to practice.
The future of this health system and its potential heavily depend on the four Cs. These are critical for service delivery as well as the well-being of patients. They include:
- Continuity: Based on the agnostic care setting, i.e., in-patient, outpatient, home.
- Coordination: Effectively linking all the relevant stakeholders
- Connectivity: It consists of synchronous and asynchronous modalities.
- Care continuum: Ranges between acute and post-acute care.
A comprehensive data analysis of virtual medical care indicates that it can facilitate healthcare growth in five areas. For instance:
- It can improve efficiency in service delivery as patients can save time by not visiting the doctor physically.
- Improving clinical outcomes through effective home-based medicine, especially when it comes to chronic diseases.
- Enhancing care coordination through virtual care
- Enhancing consumer experience with the members seeking consultation highlighting improved overall satisfaction
- Expanding healthcare access with more clinical visits from remote and rural areas
With technology constantly evolving, we expect a shift in various industries, including the medical industry. With the Covid-19 pandemic’s presence, virtual visits have increased in 2020, more than any year. But even though there is a growing need to avoid physical hospital visits, will it change the way traditional healthcare is normally delivered?
Well, we can only expect that future upgrades make this medical platform more comprehensive. Patients can currently enjoy the benefits they bring, including convenience, reduced costs, and great handling emergencies. However, some challenges come with using such a system. For instance, surgery and treatments can be administered to virtual patients. So, it can’t effectively cater to everything.
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