Virtual Care: Telehealth’s New Value Proposition

By Lee Horner, CEO, Synzi
Twitter: @SynziCare
Twitter: @lee_a_horner

Many providers are still wary of telehealth, as they are of any tool or technology that will require them to practice differently. However, emerging technology which does not require providers to alter their workflows are revealing a totally new value proposition that could rapidly accelerate its adoption across the U.S. Virtual care platforms are the answer to enhancing the timing and quality of care delivery.

Instead of offering patients a direct line to their providers, which some argue could cannibalize lucrative in-office visits, virtual care platforms are increasingly being leveraged to offer doctors immediate in-network specialist expertise, as well as the ability to remotely check-in on their patients post-discharge. These applications add convenience for providers, increase care quality and satisfaction for patients, and help reduce costs for hospitals by curbing avoidable hospital and ED admissions and readmissions.

Immediate In-network Specialist Expertise
Providers’ current workflows can be optimized by using technology to automate and expedite consults. With virtual consults, providers can be more patient-centric by being able to quickly access in-network specialists for needed expertise. Care can be enhanced from a quality and timing perspective. In terms of quality, providers can reach out to their network of experts who can be trusted to deliver the diagnoses and treatment plan specific to the individual patient. In terms of timing, providers can immediately find the first available specialist for answers, especially in critical, time-sensitive situations. Instead of wasting valuable seconds and minutes looking for the names and contact information for specialists, providers can use a communication platform that is already configured to contact in-network colleagues based on specialty and availability.

For example, a provider may be at a patient’s bedside and realize that a specialist is quickly needed to further evaluate the patient’s condition. The provider uses a virtual care solution to reach out to an in-network specialist. The specialist accepts the request, from anywhere and on any device. During the virtual consult, the specialist can assess the patient and collaborate with the provider on the appropriate next steps for the patient. All stakeholders – the provider, the specialist, and the patient – benefit from the immediacy, efficiency, and effectiveness of a virtual consult conducted in real-time.

Convenient Patient Follow-up
To check-in with patients after a hospital stay or outpatient procedure, providers can use technology to complement their patient follow-up processes. With virtual visits, providers can be more patient-centric by enabling their patients to receive follow-up care in the most comfortable setting – the patients’ own home. Instead of requiring patients to travel to one’s office or another healthcare setting, providers can deliver care conveniently via video. Travel time, transportation expenses, and no-shows are minimized while provider/patient satisfaction is increased.

For example, a provider can conduct a series of virtual visits with patients to ensure adherence to a treatment plan. During each virtual visit, the provider can assess the patient’s progress, address questions in real-time, and reinforce the treatment plan. The patient remains comfortably at home; the provider remains conveniently in the office. The stakeholders – the provider and the patient – share the goal of minimizing readmissions by using timely conversations to improve adherence and overall outcomes.

By using technology to automate and complement existing workflows, providers can help drive more timely and trusted patient care. Minutes or hours which specialists, providers, and patients typically spends in trying to access or deliver care is minimized. Care collaboration is enhanced as providers and specialists evaluate patients in real-time – whether the patient is available for the video call or not.

As providers strive to make their practice more patient-centric, virtual care platforms – along with virtual consults and virtual visits – can help them expand their reach and resonance within their patient community and their own network of healthcare colleagues, regardless of distance.