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There was a time when doctors made house calls but that was eclipsed by more robust emergency rooms, urgent care locations and now retail clinics aka, Minute Clinic. Thanks to emerging new technologies, health care is coming full circle with something akin to a virtual house call. Virtual care is fundamentally removing the time and travel barriers once required to seek care while transforming care delivery models.
As technology and infrastructure advancements related to telehealth and telemedicine have matured, organizations like Together Health Network are now more empowered to increase access and lower the cost of delivering health care services across the continuum of care. By employing an ecosystem of virtual and remote services and technology, virtual care models are being designed to provide high-quality, cost-effective care remotely when a patient can’t make it into their physician’s office.
Advancement and broad adoption of telecommunication technologies have created a window of opportunity for virtual care models driven by:
- Increased demand for consumer-driven health care where convenience and access are an expectation.
- A need for cost containment, resulting in a risk shift from payers to providers and individual consumers.
- Health care reform has created a fundamental paradigm shift in focusing efforts on driving wellness and preventive care rather than on episodic care.
- The long-term relationship between the patients and providers has put patient engagement and care coordination at the center of care delivery.
These conditions have created a viable environment for adopting virtual care programs that will provide convenient, clinically valuable and cost-effective ways for patients and providers to interact.
We are now at the tipping point where remote monitoring and real-time meaningful interventions will fundamentally change the way populations engage in their health. Few recent trends in health care delivery have more power to improve population health, patient and provider experience, and health system business models than virtual care. It empowers individuals to manage their health and care in new ways as a solution for mild symptoms and care management, saving consumers time and money by seeing the doctor from the comfort of their own home.
The benefits are clear:
- Patients will enjoy easy, 24/7 access to quality health care at costs far less than a trip to an urgent care clinic or emergency room.
- Virtual visits provide patients with instant access to a physician—no wait or waiting rooms involved.
- And, while you may think of virtual care in the context of diagnosing short-term viruses or infections, they can also help doctors monitor and coordinate care for long-term or post-hospital patients.
Nabil Elie Khoury, MD, FACEP,FACP, Medical Director, Together Health Network
Dr. Khoury is also an Emergency Medicine physician providing services St. Mary Mercy Hospital, Livonia and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor.