The pandemic reshaped healthcare’s utilization of virtual care. Almost overnight, providers quickly mobilized telehealth programs, reshaped audio-only check-ins, and revamped patient engagement solutions.
Last week Validic CEO Drew Schiller and Virtual Insights Founder and Kaiser Permanente’s Former Executive Director of Telehealth, Angie Stevens, sat down during a webinar with the eHealth Initiative (eHI) to discuss how providers are scaling comprehensive virtual care deployments and the value of data in remote patient monitoring (RPM) programs.
COVID-19 has forever changed the way patients are treated, managed, and monitored. As care moved online, virtual tools became critical lifelines for communication and guidance for patients who were now being monitored at home. By using new technologies in conjunction with smart devices to capture information, providers maintained the patient experience. A survey found that 60% of patients want to use technology more to communicate with their healthcare providers and manage their conditions.
“The market recognizes that this is an opportunity to provide solutions, and we’re seeing the devices become a lot more sophisticated, capture more data, and are becoming lower-cost and more easily accessible,” said Stevens. “As we move forward, I believe that just about everybody will be monitored by some device at some point. Doing that monitoring in collaboration with your clinical team can provide a much more holistic perspective of the patient and improves their ability to provide quality care.”
At the height of the initial covid surge, the number of visits to ambulatory care centers in the U.S. declined by 60%. At the same time, video visits saw, in some cases, a 1,000% increase in volume. The Department of Veterans Affairs in the US, for example, saw video visits increase from 10,000 to 120,000 per week, and some systems saw an even more significant increase. However, video visits alone are not enough to provide comprehensive healthcare because, fundamentally, doctors need data.
In a traditional care model, a patient goes in for an office visit and gets their vitals like weight, temperature, and blood pressure taken. All of these data collected at the start of the appointment are available for the provider to review before they see the patient. In a virtual care model, the provider no longer has access to that information. “And so what we’re seeing now is the real need to bring the data into the context of the virtual patient visit,” said Schiller.
These data are even more critical for people living with a chronic condition. Chronic conditions affect 133 million Americans, representing more than 40 percent of this country’s total population. Six in ten adults in the U.S. today are living with one or more chronic diseases. For hospitals and health systems, a key strategy to help patients is to extend chronic condition management to the home through telehealth and remote patient monitoring.
“Virtual care programs that are embedded into the clinical workflow and make data entry and other tasks automatic are really the key scalings of these (remote patient monitoring) programs,” said Schiller. “To unlock the power of virtual care, we need to bring in personal health data, labs, and any other relevant information from patients and their daily lives, which can be used to then escalate concerns and orchestrate workflows that make the physicians more efficient.”
To learn more, watch the webinar on-demand here.
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