Virtual care delivery is building the strongest bridge of communication between patients and care providers that we have ever known. That real-time, remote, and secure bridge empowers patients, meets the growing demand for patient experiences to be just as positive as other consumer experiences, and delivers on the promise of connected care.
The landmark report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, was published 20 years ago by the Institutes of Medicine — calling for a renewed look at how quality care is delivered. The report concluded, “This higher level of quality cannot be achieved by further stressing current systems of care. Trying harder will not work. Changing systems of care will.” In 2018, healthcare will take another major step in that direction as virtual health delivery will help to realize the still untapped potential of connected care.
Real-time, electronic communication between a patient and a provider, including telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and secure email communication between clinicians and their patients has changed the health paradigm, helping providers and patients avoid costly healthcare services, and increasing convenience for patients. As stakeholders throughout the healthcare system strive to improve accountability and patient empowerment, they are looking for ways to leverage technology to deliver quality healthcare beyond just the traditional hospital or doctor’s office.
Today, virtual health delivery already has the capacity to access medical and medication histories and make those easily available to a treating telehealth physician. These histories, along with high-end video capabilities, provide a valuable starting point for high-quality diagnoses and treatments from a telehealth physician. Then clinical summaries are generated and shared with primary care physicians, health plan care teams, and hospital systems. In even the most complex medical cases, virtual health delivery has the ability to seamlessly connect patients, treating physicians, and experts providing a virtual second opinion or treatment decision support. Virtual care bridges distance, helps providers anticipate and address issues before they become an emergency, makes existing care models more convenient, reduces costs by reducing acute care utilization, and delivers lasting behavior changes within the least restrictive setting: the home.
According to Accenture, the connected healthcare industry is estimated to provide $30 billion in savings in 2017 and up to $50 billion in savings by 2018. Virtual health delivery is at the heart of that reality. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs reported that many thousands of veteran patients are regularly using telehealth devices to coordinate care. The VA finds that patients are highly satisfied with home telehealth. The results found that bed days of care were reduced by 25%, hospital admissions were reduced by 19%, and patient satisfaction increased by 86%.
For much of these 21 years since the IOM report, data security concerns have presented major barriers to success for true connected care. Teladoc, the undisputed leader in virtual care delivery, has earned Certified Status for information security by the Health Information Trust (HITRUST) Alliance, the nation’s preeminent source for establishing a common security framework for healthcare. With the HITRUST CSF Certified Status, Teladoc has received another third-party validation of its ability to meet healthcare regulations and requirements for protecting and securing the sensitive protected healthcare information (PHI) of its clients and members.
That level of security is paramount to realizing true connected care, especially as we are still in the very early stages of meaningful device connectivity in healthcare. Meaningful connectivity like the Kinsa ™ smart thermometer, for example, is not only clinically relevant, enabling providers to have a longitudinal view on a patient’s temperature for up to 10 days, but it’s affordable and consumer-centric, enabling ubiquitous access. The future will include more devices with this balance of clinical and consumer benefit, such as seamless integration with home testing devices (e.g., blood glucose readers), multi-function diagnostic devices, and biosensors that will bring an Internet of Things (IoT) experience to remote patient monitoring, chronic condition support, and health improvement. Today, there is already a significant adoption of video technology to connect patients to doctors and even provide three-way video conferences with specialists and care givers.
If technology can revolutionize the way we travel from turn-by-turn instructions to nearby dining recommendations while we drive, why shouldn’t technology change the way we experience the healthcare system?