As most people now choose online services over offline services, this practice has extended to the health industry as well. Thanks to ever-improving technologies and digital tools, virtual care began to take off before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this change came much more dramatically in the last couple of years as providers and patients sought ways to minimize the virus’ spread.
The pandemic, coupled with the new Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, has enabled us to find better ways to provide virtual care. This will allow people to recover from illnesses as they age without leaving their homes. As such, patients will enjoy great care and peace of mind while in their comfiest spaces. In this blog, we’ll discuss what the future holds for virtual healthcare.
How Did the Pandemic Affect Virtual Healthcare?
Before the pandemic, at-home healthcare wasn’t working because hospitals were reluctant to expand their coverage outside the hospital setting. Also, regulatory reimbursement barely supports care anywhere but within the hospital itself, and patients simply did not consider home care an option that would be worthy of their time.
However, everything changed only one month after the WHO declared that a pandemic had caught the attention of all corners of the world. Because doctors had to treat both Covid’19 and non-covid’19 patients, they employed telehealth and virtual visits to serve their patients better at all hours of the day. Specialists could provide advice from afar or do follow-up visits to assess progress on home care. This has allowed some physicians to take lighter patient loads while still keeping their skills sharp.
In the same vein, brands such as datex ohmeda are coming up with more advanced medical supplies that can further the virtual healthcare cause. Besides, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new program in March 2020, called Hospitals Without Walls. This program gave broad regulatory flexibility to hospitals wishing to expand their services outside of traditional hospital settings.
Virtual Healthcare and the Post-Pandemic Era
Patients and providers who attempted virtual care during the outbreak have been discovering that it’s a safe and good option. According to a recent study, approximately 10% of patient visits are done virtually. It used to be less than 1% before the pandemic. Now that both patients and physicians have tasted how excellent virtual healthcare is, we can only expect that the trend will continue.
Benefits of Virtual Healthcare
Virtual healthcare expansion may be one of the best things that have happened to disease treatment and prevention. It can help patients monitor their own chronic conditions, like diabetes, heart disease and asthma. This way, they don’t even have to come into the office for checkups every time. These patients can visit their healthcare provider right from home. This will make it easier for them to access treatment and consult with doctors when they need it the most.
As reported by The Commonwealth Fund, virtual care is effective in caring for those with mental health issues. Other benefits of telehealth programs include providing better access to care regardless of where the patient is located, decreasing incidences of missed appointments, and lowering overall treatment costs. It can also improve the quality of life for many patients who otherwise might not seek out treatment due to the reluctance caused by having to travel far distances to get it.
Virtual healthcare is a good thing for patients, providers and the entire healthcare system. It has so many positives to offer. With the pandemic gradually dying down and things getting back to normal, we hope to see more advancements in the area of virtual health.