Virtual care is the new reality in healthcare. Understanding the right strategy for virtual care is going to be every healthcare organization’s challenge going forward. In a recent roundtable discussion with a wide variety of healthcare organizations we hosted with Dell Technologies and VMware, we learned some of the challenges healthcare organizations face with virtual care. However, we also learned about many of the benefits that the move to virtual care has provided that are unlikely to leave us post-COVID.
A number of CIOs commented that their biggest challenge with virtual care was scaling it across their organization. A few commented how finding a video camera was an issue at the start of COVID, but the supply chain of video cameras finally caught up and solved that problem. However, one person commented that he wouldn’t be surprised if all future PC purchases included a video camera as a quick and easy endpoint addition to their virtual care efforts.
Others noted the challenge they faced with connectivity in rural areas and that virtual care frankly doesn’t happen without connectivity. Another CIO shared how their focus on oncology meant that incorporating the family was key to their virtual care efforts. While this is certainly possible virtually, a CNIO aptly pointed out how adding the family into a video call was important, but also represented one more burden on the nursing staff that were often responsible for a larger set of patients due to COVID.
Another overarching challenge was how to integrate and streamline your virtual care program to make sure it was a seamless experience. Sometimes this means you have to cross organizational silos. Other times, you have to create a sustainable approach that works across multiple systems with some people working remotely. Said another way, how do you integrate and interconnect tele-ICU, tele-stroke, virtual sitters, virtual consult, nurse on call, telehealth, care management, etc? Healthcare organizations made it work quickly thanks to a pandemic necessity, but now we must optimize it and make things as seamless as possible.
In order to scale your virtual health in a sustainable and integrated way, the following virtual health principles were suggested:
- Must Be Simple
- Must Be Standardized
- Must Have Connectivity
We talked about the importance of connectivity above. Having a standard is important for things like HIPAA compliance, billing, and documentation. As far as simplicity, one person asked the question, how do you implement technologies with a consumer like feel that’s easy for doctors and patients to adopt?
The good news is that the pandemic helped drive adoption. In fact, it blew previous adoption goals out of the water. Now we just need to work hard to ensure that adoption is long lasting so we can enjoy the benefits of keeping patients in their location and sharing specialists across locations to name a few.
Those participating also shared the following list of changes and benefits from virtual care that won’t unravel post-COVID:
- Limited Bedside Caregiver Exposure
- Access to Remote Specialist Support
- Maintain Staff Productivity from Home
- Emergency Room Forward Triage
- Allow for Family Connections to Hospitalized Patients
- Video Based Clinic Visits
- Enablement of COVID-19 Community Screening
- Preserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
As we look forward to the future of virtual care, we should be proud of all we’ve accomplished in very trying circumstances. We’ve come a long way and there’s still room to improve. I was impressed by one patient story that was shared where the patient said the virtual specialist visit was less rushed and “more personable.” Almost seems counterintuitive but implemented the right way virtual care can definitely create a more personable experience for the patient.
Learn more about Dell Technologies Virtual Care Solutions.