The uptake of virtual care is on the rise with the help of advanced digital health solutions.
Virtual care, or virtual visits, are the consultations that take place between patient and clinician/s via communications technology.
Virtual visits mean healthcare providers can reach their patients via a more convenient medium while providing services or care to those who may need it, regardless of their location.
How can virtual care help patients?
- Better access to care: Virtual healthcare increases access to doctors, specialists and caregivers that patients would otherwise have difficulty accessing.
- Better quality of care: Virtual healthcare can improve the quality of patient and provider relationships due to greater continuity forming a deeper relationship.
- Convenience: Virtual appointments empower people to confer with caregivers from the comfort of their own home, instead of traveling to and from hospital, clinic or other healthcare facility to meet a doctor or clinician.
- Managing chronic conditions: Virtual healthcare is used by many health systems to monitor ongoing health conditions such as high blood pressure, COPD and diabetes.
- Treating urgent symptoms: Patients can receive almost immediate access to clinicians for initial consultations. Additional in-person care may be required, but patients can start the initial care process from anywhere.
- Best care, anywhere: Virtual care helps to expand access to healthcare providers, regardless of the patient’s location.
- Reduced travel costs: Virtual appointments reduce the requirement to travel to appointments.
- Reduced healthcare costs: Virtual appointments can result in fewer or shorter hospital stays and improved management of chronic disease.
- Better self-care and chronic disease management: Patients become more engaged in their care by using technology to manage their life, diet and health.
How can virtual care help health systems?
- Extends hours of service access and provide consistent, continuous care
- Extends the scope of practice for rural and remote clinicians through consultation and shared care with specialists
- Provides flexible and responsive workplaces to support workforce needs
- Improves communication, networking and collaboration between healthcare professionals across the health sector
- Empowers people to self-manage their health condition
- Greater support and reduced professional isolation for rural clinicians
- Greater access to continuing education and professional development, including more experiential learning
- Supports the development of flexible and sustainable service delivery models that promote integration across primary and secondary care, particularly for people with chronic conditions
- Reduces time spent travelling, expenses related to patient transport and the burden on subsidised transport schemes.
Virtual care can help patients, their families and carers, healthcare providers, and the broader health system.