The benefits of virtual care go beyond accessibility. The accessibility of health services increases access to healthcare and encourages frequent and timely visits. In addition, patients are empowered to become active participants in their health care, and specialists are given the freedom to monitor patients remotely. With the help of virtual care, doctors and patients can meet regularly, conduct consultations, and receive second opinions. A virtual care meeting is convenient, fast, and efficient. Virtual care is a wonderful way to bring healthcare closer to patients.
Benefits of virtual care
The Return on Health initiative developed by the AMA and Manatt Health considers virtual care programs’ financial and other benefits. Moreover, this report builds on existing research on digital health. It accounts for the different ways virtual care programs can affect overall returns on health. The ROI of virtual care programs considers the benefits to patients, payers, and clinicians. Read the full report to learn more. It is the first of its kind to consider virtual care’s impact on individuals’ health.
Virtual care reduces overall costs. For instance, Eden Health virtual connect to care in minutes compared to an emergency room visit, virtual care visits are far less expensive. A recent study found that virtual visits reduced emergency room costs by approximately $1,200. Additionally, virtual care expands access to rural areas. However, 20% of the U.S. population lives in rural areas and only about eight percent of a doctors practice in these communities. Because of this, virtual care is becoming more widely used in rural communities.
In addition to the technical aspects of providing virtual care, socioeconomic factors significantly impact how people use them. For instance, access to high-speed internet and digital health literacy are both factors that may inhibit virtual care access. Finally, low-income and low-educated populations often lack the resources necessary to access digital health information. And because technology is still relatively expensive in these communities, they are less likely to access it. Video conferencing, for example, requires high-speed internet connectivity and a secure, private, and private setting.
In a recent FPT Virtual Care/Digital Table report, the authors identified equity as an underlying theme of discussions. In addition, many participants expressed a keen interest in avoiding unintended consequences of digital health. To this end, the governments of the FPT are currently developing a shared policy framework identifying barriers to and opportunities for delivering universally insured publicly funded, high-quality virtual care. For example, the report highlights equity as an essential enabler of the long-term adoption of virtual services.
The convenience of virtual care has become a popular trend among patients and healthcare providers. With the advent of mobile banking, shopping, and banking, patients have become accustomed to using these technologies to manage their health and well-being. As a result, the convenience of virtual care is becoming more popular, as healthcare providers face increased pressure to improve patient experiences and achieve the Quadruple Aim, or the triple aim of improving population health system costs.
Physicians who practice telemedicine find the ability to connect patients to a medical practitioner in real-time more convenient than ever before. With improved technology, virtual appointments are becoming easier to set up. MyNP Professionals, for instance, allow patients to request virtual visits with Johns Hopkins doctors from their smartphones or tablets. Patients can call the clinic, book an appointment online, or use secure telemedicine software to contact their physician.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred widespread use of virtual care across Canada, some researchers are concerned that it could pose new health care barriers. Therefore, we investigated patient perceptions of virtual care by conducting qualitative constructivist interviews. Participants were randomly selected from four chronic disease clinics that provide virtual care. In cases where the patients could not participate, their caregivers were invited to participate. Data analysis used thematic analysis and coding consensus to identify themes and codes.
The accessibility of virtual primary care was found to differ based on race/ethnicity, health status, and community social vulnerability. This difference was observed even after accounting for demographic and community social exposure. This study suggests that racial and ethnic disparities in access to virtual care may reflect broader social inequities. Therefore, research on primary care should include these factors in future studies. However, the research conducted in this area is currently limited.
Consumer demand for telehealth services has spurred growth in the virtual care industry, offering greater access to health professionals while reducing the need for expensive emergency room and hospital visits. For example, one analysis of a Veterans Health Administration telehealth program found that virtual care reduced overall costs by an average of $6,500 per patient, with a $1 billion savings in one year. It also reduced the number of days a patient spent in the hospital by nearly 25% and significantly reduced the rate of hospital admissions.
The costs associated with virtual care services are comparable to those related to non-emergency visits to an emergency room and urgent care. For instance, an emergency room visit for sinus infection can cost $740, while a virtual visit will likely cost $50. This is an even better deal since many health plans offer zero cost-sharing for virtual care. Health plans should check with their providers to see if they’ll cover virtual visits as an option for their employees.