Charting the growth of virtual care modes, new patient behaviors and the opportunity for out of hospital care
A few short years ago the idea of virtual healthcare was nascent. Compared to other industries, healthcare had initially resisted the off-premise and cloud shift, facing significant regulatory and systematic barriers around the world. And yet, the days of healthcare systems maintaining their own infrastructures inhouse is shifting fast in line with the innovation in the care delivery model. Increasing connectivity, the acceleration of urgency - in part due to the global COVID-19 pandemic - ageing and rising disease profiles, has necessitated and accelerated change. More emphasis is now being placed on what virtual principles and experiences healthcare can harness to ease the burden on operations and improve patient and staff experience.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, GP practices and hospital outpatients in the UK were providing around 400 million face-to-face appointments each year (NHS, 2019), while planning to save ‘300 million trips’ for patients through more digital GP consultations (NHS, 2019). Telehealth in the US had surged with medical claims increasing by 624% from 2014 to 2018 (Advisory Board, 2019).
According to a report by management consultancy, Deloitte: “Virtual care also has the capability to inform, personalize, accelerate, and augment care across the care delivery spectrum, from disease prevention to treatment to ongoing monitoring,” . “It will enable simple collaboration and the sharing of data and insights across the complete circle of care. Taking the mystery out of care and treatment plans for the family and caregivers of patients, while maintaining privacy, becomes more effective in the virtual-care domain.”
A new strategic partnership between Philips and an independent healthcare provider, a focus on diagnostics innovation represents the fast start opportunity to structurally embed out of hospital care and enable a significant leap forward in patient-centric, future-forward care.
In the feature, Towards the virtualization of care, former NHS Director and Director of Independent Sector & Community Diagnostics at Philips, Jeevan Gunaratnam, charts the growth of virtual care modes, new patient behaviors and the opportunity for out of hospital care. He explains how the growth of virtual healthcare offers pressured health systems a chance to expand access to healthcare, cut their operational costs and address bigger systematic challenges: reducing waste; cutting foot traffic into the hospital and patient length of stays; bridging gaps between siloed clinical departments; and, supporting staff and patient journeys.
“The benefit of growing imaging services beyond the hospital is momentous. They have the potential to ease staff burdens, improve patient outcomes, with more diagnostic care services closer to where the patient resides. It will allow for skills to be spread more evenly across large geographical spaces, and potentially breathe new life into communities in duress. Community Diagnostic Centers can’t happen soon enough. Healthcare should, after all, be accessible to everyone.