How Virtual Tech Supports Better Patient Care

By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief,
Twitter: @rehackmagazine

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the health care industry with some unique challenges while simultaneously being a technological turning point. Amid the chaos of the pandemic, medical systems around the world embraced new tech. One of the most promising of these advancements is virtual technology like telehealth and virtual reality (VR).

Looking to the future, further implementation of this technology could improve patient care. In-person care is by no means outdated, nor is virtual health care always preferable, but virtual tech could bring needed advances in some scenarios. Here’s a look at five such instances:

1. Expanding Access to Expert Care
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), half of the world lacks access to essential health care services. Even as medical services reach more people, health care quality varies widely across different areas. Virtual tech can help reduce that issue.

The world’s leading doctors don’t have enough time to travel everywhere they may be needed, but they don’t have to with telehealth services. Hospital systems can use videoconferencing technology to consult leading experts in dire cases. More people could have access to the best medical minds, which improves global patient care.

2. Training the Next Generation of Health Care Professionals
One of the most revolutionary virtual technologies is VR, which other industries — like air travel — already use for training. The medical sector could follow suit, using VR to give medical students an in-depth perspective on the human body. With virtual models, instructors could show students organ systems from all sides, zoom in on specific areas and simulate any condition.

Some companies are even working on patient-specific VR models, bringing real-world examples to the more accessible world of VR. These technologies could give the next generation of medical professionals a better understanding of the human body. As a result, future treatments will improve.

3. Getting a Second Opinion Faster
Every doctor has encountered a situation where they need to consult someone else over the best course of action for a patient. If other experts aren’t in the building, getting a second opinion can be time consuming. Virtual models and teleconferencing can let doctors consult each other remotely and come to a decision faster.

Virtual conferencing can go beyond video chatting, too. With vendor-neutral archives, doctors can share digital records regardless of format, letting them have in-depth conversations using examples as if they were in person.

4. Improving Ongoing Learning Initiatives
As new problems and treatments emerge, health care professionals need to stay informed about them. Simultaneously, not everyone has the time to visit a conference where they can learn as a community about these things. With virtual conferencing technology, they don’t have to.

Videoconferencing networks enabled more than 2,700 medical professionals to meet and discuss COVID-19 weekly at the height of the pandemic. Virtual conferences like this would make it easier for doctors and nurses in remote locations to stay up to date. More areas could benefit from the latest treatment methods as a result.

5. Preventing Unnecessary Hospital Visits
As the COVID-19 pandemic made hospital visits riskier, telehealth consultations helped maximize hospital resources and keep patients safe. Telehealth claim lines increased by more than 4,000% as more people realized these benefits. Even after the pandemic fades, these technologies can improve care by reducing unnecessary in-person visits.

Patients can use telehealth services to consult a doctor before seeing if they need in-person care. This practice would save both patients and doctors’ time, letting health care professionals care for more urgent cases faster. Hospitals would also become less crowded, freeing up resources for those who need them most.

The Health Care Industry Should Embrace Virtual Tech
Virtual tech isn’t a viable replacement for all situations, but it can fix many of the medical industry’s inefficiencies. If more health care organizations adopted this technology, patient care would improve across the board. As these technologies advance, they’ll only become more useful, further improving global health care.