What Is Virtual Health Care?
For millennia, healers, shamans, doctors, and other medical practitioners have treated their patients in person. Obviously, this arrangement has myriad benefits, but in a modern setting, it also has a few constraints.
Chief among these drawbacks is the issue of access. A trip to the doctor’s office can be time-consuming, expensive, and generally inconvenient for patients and their families. Likewise, physicians are sometimes limited in their ability to optimally care for their patients because a physical barrier or distance separates them. Furthermore, traveling to the doctor’s office for completing or reviewing routine paperwork is a major inconvenience, to say the least. Thankfully, this is where virtual health care comes in to play.
Virtual health care includes innovations such as virtual health 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 this article will examine a little more closely.
What Are the Advantages of Virtual Care?
Virtual health has numerous advantages for patients and providers alike. For instance, by removing physical barriers to care, providers are able to extend their reach, especially for patients who live in rural areas. Virtual health care also provides preventive services in that it allows for education regarding non-emergency health and wellness issues, which will consequently decrease hospital admissions and save patients time and money while also enhancing their health outcomes.
Virtual care also allows providers to monitor and manage their patients’ care throughout their recovery following a long-term hospital visit or surgical procedure. By eliminating numerous intangibles related to in-person consultations and treatment, providers increase efficiency by seeing more patients with a greater degree of personal engagement in far less time.
Virtual care can also help ease the economic and medical strain of chronic illness. It’s estimated that roughly 75% of the money spent within the healthcare industry is related to treating chronic illness. Virtual health care is beginning to decrease that number through remote monitoring, virtual observation, and video visits. Less in-person visits means more money saved for both patients and providers.
And for those patients dealing with more common conditions, such as the flu or seasonal allergies, they have streamlined access through remote care, mitigating costs and inconvenience. A recent survey found that patients’ wait times averaged between five days to over two months in major cities for issues such as headaches and sinus infections, but virtual care can decrease or even eliminate patient wait times altogether, and even allow for physician consultations outside of regular business hours.
Virtual health care also provides patients with quick and easy access to their electronic medical records. Through the advent of virtual kiosks and portals, individuals have the ability to view their medical information and test results, refill their prescriptions, schedule future appointments, and even receive regular messaging specific to their health and wellness needs.
What’s Next for Virtual Health Care?
Like many powerful technological innovations, virtual health care is more than just a fad, and it seems poised to overtake several modes of conventional supplemental treatment within the next few years. It’s estimated that by 2018, more than 20 million households will utilize virtual health care with an average of six virtual visits each year, generating as much as $3.5 trillion by 2022. While the very nature of medical treatment and patient health ensures that traditional healthcare will always remain the central component of health and wellness, virtual care is an alternative form of supplemental treatment that aligns perfectly with our progress into the information age.
The infrastructure is already in place and is consistently being improved, but as with most game-changing innovation, the general public has remained somewhat skeptical of this new method of care thus far. However, as healthcare organizations and insurers begin to adopt and embrace emerging technologies, virtual care will likely become the norm, and patients will appreciate the time- and cost-saving elements of this new healthcare paradigm.
Canopy Health: Refreshingly Clear, Human Care
One of the primary differentiators between Canopy Health and our competitors is our commitment to emerging trends within the virtual health arena. We will be launching our new intuitive and interactive mobile app with tailored messaging and immediate electronic access to medical records very soon, and we can’t wait for the feedback we receive from our members.
2014 survey of patient appointment wait times. (2015). Merrit Hawkins. Retrieved from https://www.merritthawkins.com/2014-survey/patientwaittime.aspx
Glaser, J. (2016, August 10). Virtual health care provides flexibility for patients and providers. Cerner. Retrieved from https://blogs.cerner.com/blog/Virtual-Health-Care-Provides-Flexibility-for-Patients-and-Providers/
Wang, H. (2014, April 3). Virtual health care will revolutionize the industry, if we let it. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2014/04/03/virtual-health-care-visits-will-revolutionize-the-industry-if-we-let-it/