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What Is Virtual Care? Costs, Disadvantages, And Platforms

If you’ve been considering moving your healthcare needs to the cloud, consider the benefits of virtual care. These services are mainly similar to traditional medical practitioners but have some differences. Read on to discover the main advantages and drawbacks of virtual care. Regardless of the method you choose, here are some things to consider. This article is written for both healthcare providers and patients. 

Continuity of care

Continuity of care is vital for ensuring the best health outcomes, and virtual care can make this transition seamless. Patients can share their medical records securely with their virtual doctor using a secure medical records feature such as those provided by Eden Health virtual connect to care in minutes. Unlike the old days, when patients had to visit multiple doctors, a virtual physician can provide comprehensive care in one visit. By leveraging a single EMR and working off a single care plan, virtual providers are now providing their patients with a wide range of healthcare services.

One survey by Vera found that 85% of primary care services were delivered via virtual care. While this may be the norm in the future, it should still be noted that some patients may need in-person visits in certain circumstances. For example, wearable technology applications can be used to maintain and prevent disease. In addition, the transition from virtual to physical care should be seamless when care coordination is strong. But for now, there are several barriers to this transition.

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Costs

Compared to emergency and primary care, the total cost of virtual care visits is significantly lower. The total cost of virtual care visits in the study was $429, compared to $590, $278, and $1,784 for the same care in the emergency department, primary care, and urgent care. The initial visit cost was $114, and the use of antibiotics was the same among the three types of care.

Virtual care also reduces the number of patient follow-up visits. Virtual care providers can often build trusting relationships with their patients, offering timely information on where to get additional care. A recent survey by the Canadian Medical Association found that virtual visits led to 11 percent fewer follow-up visits for acute care conditions. It also reduces travel costs for patients. High-definition capabilities help doctors make critical decisions. In addition to reducing travel time, high-quality HD capabilities also save healthcare benefits.

Disadvantages

There are several advantages to telemedicine and virtual care. Patients and doctors save time because they don’t have to travel to an office or wait in a waiting room. Patients can also limit their exposure to other sick people when visiting a doctor virtually. This care is also great for patients with compromised health conditions like COVID-19 or autoimmune diseases. Disadvantages of virtual care include:

Patients may be less satisfied with virtual care. The absence of a physical examination could result in missing essential findings. However, virtual care can be adapted to pandemic healthcare delivery. The disadvantages of traditional care, such as the lack of personal attention, can be mitigated. The advantages and disadvantages of virtual care should be considered in context to the needs of patients with menopause. These benefits are not limited to virtual care.

Platforms used

The rise of telehealth has led telecommunications companies to focus more on developing solutions for the growing field of virtual care. As a result, these providers have merged existing health IT solutions into newer versions, bringing telehealth features to the forefront of their products. For example, BlueJeans Telehealth, a HIPAA-compliant virtual visit platform, recently announced its integration with Apple Health. Its features include HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, remote patient monitoring, and the ability to store patient information.

There are many virtual care platforms, with Epic being the leading EMR-centric solution. Meanwhile, Caregility is the top non-EMR-based option. The “Best in KLAS” rankings are based on insights compiled from clinicians and staff at over 4,500 healthcare organizations. The data used in this research were derived from 23,735 evaluations in 2021. This information is handy for those organizations looking to launch virtual care services in a limited geographical area or with particular requirements.

Evidence of efficacy

In this systematic review, we aimed to identify studies that compared the efficacy of virtual care with traditional in-person visits in a single health care setting. These studies included studies examining glycated hemoglobin levels, patient satisfaction, quality of care, and practitioner-patient experience. Additionally, we analyzed qualitative analyses. During our search, we found 59 articles that met our inclusion criteria.

The first stage of the systematic review was to identify and synthesize selected research articles. We then studied the reports in-depth and extracted and analyzed relevant data to answer our research questions. There was a risk of bias in this review step due to the limited literature available. Nonetheless, it was found that the telemedicine method had an overall positive impact on patients’ health outcomes. In addition, this study uncovered important implications for virtual care consolidation shortly.

Patient safety

The first step to improving patient safety when virtual care is establishing a governance and reporting structure. This structure should include a data integrity group responsible for reducing the risk of hacking and optimizing privacy and security protections. It should also have appropriate oversight committees for patient advocacy and physician education. Several factors contribute to patient safety, including:

In Alberta, for example, clinical nurse specialists can connect with clients via videoconferencing, ensuring that patients receive high-quality care. Increasing the use of videoconferencing and telehealth for patient care is crucial for improving patient safety, especially in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian Patient Safety Week will be celebrated this year as Virtual Care is New to Us. The Alberta Health Services and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute collaborate on the initiative.

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