What is virtual care?

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Photo of doctor on computer in a virtual care consultation using ExamVu from Visionflex

Virtual care safely connects patients with health professionals to deliver care when and where it is needed.

‘Virtual care’ is a broad term that encompasses all methods used to remotely communicate and interact with patients. Virtual care complements face-to-face care where it can range from a video consultation with a healthcare provider, to sharing tests and scans with experts for more specialised advice.

Virtual care includes:

  • synchronous tools such as video conferencing that allows for real time communication
  • asynchronous (store-and-forward) applications such as secure messaging
  • digital self-care tools such as applications that collect and store examination data
  • and remote patient monitoring.

Through mobile applications and user-friendly websites, healthcare providers can reach their patients via a more convenient medium while also providing services or care to those who may otherwise be too busy for an in-office appointment.

How can virtual care help me?

Virtual care can help patients receive more appropriate care in a timely fashion, and provides benefits for all patients, no matter where they live.

It supports patients and families to:

  • Receive care closer to their home, their family and local community
  • Have increased convenience and choice
  • Have reduced travel time and cost
  • Have more equitable and timely access to services to improve continuity of care
  • Have access to specialist services otherwise not available in their area
  • Have the ability to connect with their loved ones through technology.

Virtual care can be a good choice if:

  • You live in a remote location
  • You are unable to attend a physical appointment or need to self-isolate
  • You have work or other social commitments
  • You want to reduce travel costs and times
  • You would like access to services not available in your area
  • You want to self-manage your health conditions.

Virtual care can help healthcare professionals to:

  • Improve access to specialist services and support
  • Improve clinical networks and professional collaboration
  • Facilitate flexible service delivery models and multidisciplinary care
  • Extend scope and support to rural and remote communities
  • Improve access to education and professional development opportunities.

Virtual care has a critical role to play in modern healthcare. The ability to connect patients with providers no matter where they are, leads to better outcomes and healthier populations.

Illustration of patient receiving virtual care

Definitions

What’s the difference between digital health, telehealth and telemedicine?

  • Digital health is the use of information technology/electronic communication tools, services and processes to deliver health care services or to facilitate better health.
  • Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient professional health-related education, public health and administration.
  • And Telemedicine is the use of electronic communications and information technologies to provide clinical services when participants are in different locations.

Visionflex – a new world of virtual care.