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7 Reasons Why Medical Practitioners are Switching to Virtual Care
Many medical practitioners are switching to virtual care visits due to Covid-19. Virtual care involves real time virtual visits between patients and practitioners using a variety of technology. As hospitals and healthcare facilities settle into a virtual routine, many are considering maintaining this type of care on a permanent basis. According to MIT Technology Review, this will increasingly become the new normal as facilities look for innovative ways to incorporate virtual technology. There are seven important reasons why many medical practitioners are switching to virtual care.
1) Keeps Both Patients and Staff Safe
Even when Covid ends, virtual care will provide a level of safety that many healthcare providers won’t want to give up. During flu season, for example, packing patients into a crowded waiting room can spread sickness exponentially. Both patients and their providers will limit their exposure to a variety of illnesses when using virtual care. Preventing the spread of communicable disease is just one way you can use virtual care to keep patients safe.
It’s often difficult for your patients with physically debilitating conditions to travel to and from a doctor’s office. A lack of mobility can prove dangerous during the transportation process. Staying safely within their home will reduce the chance of falls for many patients. Whether it’s family medicine, emergency medicine, or geriatric care, providing a safer means of receiving healthcare will almost certainly result in fewer cancelled and missed appointments.
2) Saves on Overhead Expenses
Nearly every medical office and healthcare organization is looking for ways to cut costs. Office expenses are often a large part of any budget. According to 99MGMT, overhead costs such as rent and office supplies, can account for up to 70 percent of costs for a medical practice. When your medical practitioners are providing primarily virtual care, this eliminates the need for as much office space. A smaller office can mean lower costs on everything from furnishings to utility bills. It may also mean less staff working in the office.
A virtual care visit will also save on transportation costs for both providers and patients. Doctors, as well as other healthcare providers, can now work from home instead of coming into the office. Administrative and clerical staff can also work from home while receiving information from patients electronically. In the future, several practitioners may share one office, with patients coming in only on rare occasions. Not only are you able to cut costs, but you may increase your revenue with the ability to see more patients with virtual care.
3) Offers Medical Care Anywhere at Anytime
This is an aspect of virtual care that patients love. Going to a doctor requires a certain amount of planning and is usually time-consuming. Scheduling conflicts for both healthcare providers and patients are often a problem. Missing, cancelling, and rescheduling is a major headache for most practices. Medical practitioners that offer virtual care anytime, anywhere will almost certainly see a reduction in the number of scheduling conflicts. Even if patients need urgent care, an initial video visit may determine if they need to come to an emergency room right away or receive care from a doctor at a later time.
Virtual care also means not having to worry about seeing a regular practitioner when on vacation or out of town for business. Some people may put off going to the doctor if it means going to a provider who has never seen them before. With virtual care, your patients can schedule doctor visits in the middle of the night. Waiting even a few days to treat a condition could make the difference between a minor health concern and one that is extremely serious. Patients can have a practitioner quickly treat a sinus infection, colds, and allergies anyplace there’s an internet connection.
4) Includes Several Technology Options
Virtual care features a variety of options that both providers and patients can choose from. The most comprehensive healthcare will likely include a combination of the following technology.
– This requires a smartphone, tablet or computer and a camera. This would enable a patient and a caregiver to communicate face to face. This is the primary way in which most practitioners will conduct virtual care visits.
– The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFF) states that a virtual e-visit is both a management service and an evaluation. This would involve a patient filling out an online questionnaire. At a later time a practitioner could schedule a phone call or video visit to discuss symptoms and potential treatment plans.
– Remote monitoring is an ongoing process and in general falls under the broader category of “telehealth.” The patient wears devices that will electronically send their practitioner medical information. Long term monitoring of vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, however, is often part of a virtual care visit.
5) Provides Care in the Privacy of the Home
Making life more convenient is one of the goals of nearly every industry, and healthcare is no exception. There are often several reasons why patients cancel or miss medical appointments.
– Transportation problems can range from mobility difficulties to financial issues.
Busy Work & Personal Schedules
– Whether it’s job conflicts, taking care of aging parents, or childcare issues, finding the time to fit in one more appointment is difficult for many people.
Problems with Mobility
– Individuals who are recovering from surgery or a serious illness may find it difficult to travel to a practitioner’s office.
Uncomfortable in a Public Setting
– Because of disabilities or other conditions, many individuals simply don’t feel comfortable in a crowded waiting room.
6) Reduces the Need for Hospitalizations
When a patient can receive care in their own home, this can potentially save thousands of dollars for both the patient and the insurance company. Managed Healthcare Executive states that readmissions cost Americans over $15 billion in 2017. Virtual care can help dramatically reduce the need for readmission to the hospital. Virtual technology can address many of the gaps that occur during follow-up care.
Using a variety of devices, patients can easily communicate with their medical care providers either from home or a rehab facility. They can quickly receive answers to any questions or concerns that might arise after surgery or any other type of procedure. Practitioners can send their patients reminders about diet and prescriptions to make sure they’re following after-care plans.
7) Allows Greater Access to Healthcare
Many people living in rural areas are often 20 minutes or more from a medical facility. During winter months it’s sometimes not practical for individuals to make a trip to the doctor. Virtual care will provide healthcare for people who might otherwise not seek out the treatment they need. The following are just a few specific ways virtual care will help patients in the future.
– Many people are often hesitant to seek out behavioral health services. Virtual visits will provide confidential and convenient treatment.
– Individuals living in rural communities are struggling with opioid addiction. Counselors and drug specialists can directly work with people who are unable to travel the distance to a treatment facility.
– Following a specialized diet is easier to stick to when a professional is giving encouragement and advice in real time.
– A physical therapist can model the appropriate exercises and then monitor patients as they work through a prescribed therapy routine.
Face to face health care will continue to grow and add new technologies that will improve the relationship between patient and practitioner. While there are legal issues you’ll need to address, such as licensing, billing for health insurance, and prescribing medication, virtual care will almost certainly continue to increase during the next few years. Practitioners who build their virtual care practice now will position themselves for greater success in the near future.