Virtual Healthcare: What You Need to Know
Virtual healthcare is an innovative way for both medical specialists and patients to enjoy the advancement of technology and use it to their own benefit. It allows patients to receive support without sitting for several hours in a waiting line while medical professionals can better manage their schedules and appointments.
But what exactly does the term virtual healthcare mean and what are the real-life examples? In this article, we will discuss what services fall under the virtual healthcare definition and what benefits it brings to medical professionals and patients worldwide.
The definition of virtual healthcare
There is a bit of confusion when it comes to defining virtual healthcare and differentiating it from telemedicine or telehealth.
Virtual healthcare is a process of delivering healthcare services to a patient via a mobile device. You can refer to it as to virtual visits of a patient to a doctor. The main thing to remember about virtual healthcare is that the services provided cover mostly consulting and non-clinical care, such as mental health support, health state monitoring, or management of chronic diseases like diabetes.
Now, if we compare virtual healthcare and telemedicine, there is a difference. Telemedicine includes remote clinical services and caters to more serious diseases. Telehealth, in turn, is a more global term that implies the use of electronic tools and telecommunications to provide long-distance medical care and support.
There are a few reasons for the rapid growth of virtual healthcare popularity. People expect the services to be delivered via their mobile devices so the industries worldwide have to adapt. As well, the advancement of technology allows the healthcare industry to offer better support and services to the patients, at the same time providing better working conditions for the medical specialists.
The ultimate benefits of virtual healthcare
It is quite obvious that the option of remote medical support has its benefits. Below are the ways how virtual healthcare changes the healthcare industry landscape.
Faster interaction and support
The biggest issue for patients when visiting a doctor is the waiting time. People can spend up to a few hours in a line - and what if some of these patients are elderly, children, or simply in a poor condition?
As for medics, big queues and an overwhelming number of patients create a huge distraction and cause the doctor to deviate from the set schedule. This, in turn, poorly affects one’s productivity and quality of work.
Virtual healthcare eliminates these issues by granting both patients and medics an option to provide and receive immediate help from any place. By seeing a number of waiting patients in an application, a doctor can better tailor their schedule. As for the patients, all they have to do is to log in and choose the needed professional in the app - simple as that.
Depending on the country, medical care can be quite expensive and many people cannot afford certain medical services. In this way, virtual healthcare can become a cheaper and more efficient analog of many medical services such as regular health monitoring, psychological help, and others.
If we take mobile virtual assistants as an example, patients will only need to pay once (or every month, depending on a plan) to get access to all its features. This might be significantly cheaper than regularly visiting a doctor and paying for every visit.
As for medical specialists, the use of advanced technology may also be a more cost-efficient solution in the long term.
Flexible scheduling of appointments
One of the biggest issues for doctors worldwide is the inflow of patients and the inability to manage their appointments in an efficient manner. When a patient books an appointment at a hospital, it rarely happens that they visit a doctor at the exact time of the appointment and the appointment itself rarely takes an expected amount of time. In reality, patients can get late, a doctor may still be busy with another patient, and the meetings take much longer than intended. All this leads to an increase in stress levels among the doctors and the decrease of the quality of their work.
The introduction of virtual healthcare solutions can change the game by granting doctors an option to independently manage their time and schedule and thus tailor the appointments in accordance with their workload. As for the patients, they can choose the most suitable time and the date and be sure that the appointment will happen at this exact time.
Increased convenience for patients
Going to a doctor can be stressful enough for a patient, not to mention the fact that the patient may simply be lacking time or unwilling to disclose all the symptoms due to personal reasons. Virtual healthcare offers an opportunity to receive a remote consultation or other medical services at practically any time and from any place, meaning, a patient can stay at home and still receive the needed advice.
An option to contact a medical specialist remotely or to enter the medical data in the app without direct interaction with the medic can be a really huge benefit for some patients. Remote healthcare is especially important for those who are disabled, have a poor health condition, or simply cannot adjust their schedule to the available appointment times. In this way, the implementation of virtual healthcare will encourage the patients to better monitor their health on a regular basis.
A common problem across practically all medical facilities is the massive amount of paperwork and patient records that are distributed among dozens of specialists. Such a record-keeping method can be quite confusing and can actually lead to data loss or theft.
With virtual healthcare, the way of keeping the patients’ records become more centralized. All the data is kept in an electronic format and in one place while being available to all the authorized users. As a result, electronic document management becomes much easier and requires less time than regular paperwork.
A real-life example from SoftTeco - SmartMonitor
SoftTeco has excessive experience in developing healthcare solutions and virtual healthcare is no exception. We worked on a project that was intended for doctors and nurses to monitor patients with multiple sclerosis. The main idea of the app was to collect health-related data from the wearable devices of the patients and to present it to nurses and doctors in forms of clear charts and graphs.
The developed solution runs on ReactJS and Auth0 and has two dashboards: for doctors and for nurses, correspondingly. While nurses monitor small groups of patients, doctors can monitor the entire group or an individual patient. SmartMonitor is a great way for the medics to monitor the health state of their patients, track the efficiency of prescribed treatment, and access the patients’ data anytime and from any place.
Virtual healthcare is still in the state of development and growth but we can already see the ready and available solutions that are aimed at making the lives of doctors and patients better and easier. When developing a virtual healthcare solution, it is critical to pay attention to security as such solutions process massive amounts of sensitive patients’ data. As well, mind the functionality as your solution needs to bring value to the users and there may be multiple user groups for your product.
Irina LinnikView all articles by this author.
My brother has been thinking about getting some virtual health care because he wants to stay safe at home. He would really like to get some help from a professional in order to be a lot safer. It was interesting to learn about how they should manage their appointments efficiently while being more accommodating to the client's time, and date.