The boom and then the bust? Will virtual care including virtual visits along with remote care monitoring continue to evolve? Was the boom just because of the pandemic? We have rounded up the industry leaders that have thoughts and predictions that say the future of virtual care will continue to expand, innovate, and drive policy change for payment in the coming years.
And join us for the next few weeks as we look at what we might see in 2024.
Inpatient care is about to transform completely
The landscape of inpatient acute care is challenged with increasingly complex patient needs and a contracting workforce. Despite these hurdles, the integration of emerging care models and cutting-edge technology promises to revolutionize the acute care paradigm. We foresee a surge in innovative solutions, particularly in the realm of ambient inpatient monitoring technologies, which will offer unprecedented precision and ease in tracking patient health metrics. Moreover, the expansion of virtual nursing use cases is poised to redefine the concept of bedside care, presenting new opportunities for patient engagement and workforce enablement.
The prominence of virtual health in 2024 will be driven by its proven success in delivering select care, notably in behavioral health, as it intersects with the improvement of health equity, expanding access to affordable healthcare, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
In 2024, Virtual Healthcare is poised for significant advancement as clinicians increasingly leverage sophisticated tools for remote patient symptom monitoring. The rise in popularity of electronic patient-reported outcomes (ePRO) tools empowers patients to self-report symptoms, enabling personalized education and alerting medical staff to intervene when necessary. This proactive approach not only engages patients in their treatments but also improves outcomes, reduces avoidable adverse events, and mitigates clinician burnout. Continuous symptom monitoring saves clinicians time by remotely tracking patient responses, empowers them to make better, personalized treatment decisions, and tailor care to the individual’s needs. As evidenced by studies, these technological advances enhance patient quality of life, survivability, adherence to treatment plans, and overall satisfaction for both patients and clinicians.
Due to its ability to improve nurse satisfaction and retention, virtual nursing will become increasingly integral to care delivery models in acute patient care. Virtual nursing technology uses mobile audio and video monitoring devices to connect bedside staff to a remote care support team, extending the reach of bedside nurses, giving them more time for direct, hands-on patient care and resulting in reduced costs for health systems. There are numerous use cases in which virtual nursing can deliver a positive impact to patient care, including discharge, admissions, patient education, expert clinical oversight, and rounding.
Health systems are realizing that patients frequently prefer telehealth over in-office visits for routine issues such as minor same day issues (e.g., colds, UTIs and rashes), as well as chronic disease management in stable patients. As a result, organizations will seek to expand patient access to anywhere, anytime care from telehealth providers as a means of widening their digital front doors to attract and retain more patients. Health systems partnering with a virtual care provider are finding it can be a much more cost-effective approach than hiring additional doctors and nurses at a time when hospital staffing remains a significant challenge.
In 2024, the landscape of healthcare is poised for a virtual revolution. We anticipate an accelerated adoption of health information technology, paving the way for seamless and personalized virtual healthcare experiences. As we embrace cutting-edge solutions, we envision improved patient access, enhanced remote monitoring capabilities, and a more connected and patient-centric healthcare ecosystem.
In 2024, virtual healthcare assistants are set to reshape patient care, bridging the gap between patients and caregivers. These AI-powered assistants will go beyond traditional medical consultations, offering personalized advice tailored to individual needs. By providing access to timely and accurate information, they will empower patients to make informed healthcare decisions. Moreover, these virtual assistants will play a critical role in guiding patients to the appropriate level of care, optimizing healthcare resource allocation and reducing costs for patients. With their transformative capabilities, virtual healthcare assistants will improve delivery of healthcare, enhance patient satisfaction, and ultimately improve outcomes.
The pandemic permanently reshaped care delivery, leading to widespread adoption of telehealth across the healthcare landscape. It’s clear that telehealth has transitioned from being a “nice to have” service for patients to an essential component of a provider’s care arsenal. This momentum has presented numerous advantages for patients and prompted substantial shifts for healthcare organizations, with implications that will carry into 2024 and beyond, and it’s up to providers to embrace virtual care with patient engagement at its core to remain competitive, eliminate barriers to care access, and retain patients.
The expanded adoption of virtual care in recent years has caused health systems to reexamine where virtual care fits into the overall care delivery model. They’ve had to assess the workflow, staffing, logistics, reimbursement, and technologies with an eye towards pulling it all together into a more cohesive strategy. In 2024, I expect health systems will continue to redesign care workflows and operational processes to better leverage virtual care at the appropriate time, and they will work on strong consumer-facing strategies – not unlike retailers – to better engage patients.
2024 will bring permanence to the virtual care models that are essential to ensuring access to care and the most effective use of clinical expertise. This should include traditional telemedicine as well as newer care models such as virtual nursing, virtual care management, virtual pharmacy and virtual therapies.