There is growing optimism on the advancement of virtual healthcare for employees across the world as it looks to serve a wide array of healthcare needs. You have to ignore the naysayers; there is a real transformation in healthcare with the virtual healthcare closing in the gap of access, costs, quality, and convenience.
In this post, we are going to look at some of the bold predictions for virtual healthcare in 2019.
1. Virtual healthcare grows and its powerful in the delivery of quality healthcare
There is a change in the focus of virtual healthcare as companies change focus from ordinary healthcare needs to a broad range of healthcare needs. This will change the status quo in the delivery of healthcare services. The system will offer new ways to contain the ever-rising costs while improving the outcomes.
Making health care quality, easy and convenient is the basis for transforming it. This will mean introducing the use of analytics, convenience, and technology to empower patients and over barriers to care.
Virtual care delivery is behind the real transformation of the healthcare sector. It has changed the way in which patients access and experience care. It helps overcome geography and convenience barriers where patients travel miles and wait long queues before accessing a doctor.
Virtual healthcare was once considered unlikely impossible to achieve. So what has led to its growth and wide acceptance?
There has been an evolution from the sparse and primary health care to a comprehensive and robust healthcare program. Convenient and proactive virtual options today include the expansive delivery of a wide range of clinical services of the most complex conditions from a wide range of experts.
Patients can now gain access to some of the highest rated physicians and get expert opinions as opposed to an isolated medical opinion. There is also a breakthrough in innovations where patients can easily interact through videos, web, apps, wearable technologies, and phones.
Care decisions can now be delivered virtually. This is pure healthcare transformation changing the status quo in the health sector.
From a simple fever/flu in a child to a severe rash, from anxiety and heart disease to depression and from cancer to over 450 specialty medical cases, there is more empowerment and freedom to make health decisions.
Better health outcomes have been made possible through convenient and easy access to advice and quality medical care.
2. Payers to raise expectations and unlock the full value of the virtual healthcare delivery
Consumers and purchasers in the healthcare sector are always on the lookout for a better way to access quality medical care at affordable prices. There is escalating pressure for healthcare systems, employers and health plans to contain the rising costs. Virtual healthcare seems the best way to tackle these problems.
This is further being aided by the tremendous technological advancements with patients centered care and management tools. There is a greater value to be gained from virtual care in the form of patient engagement and satisfaction, financial savings and overall improved healthcare outcomes.
These three are unique value propositions that virtual healthcare provides to payers. Let’s have an in-depth look at these fantastic benefits.
Financial Savings: There is a positive impact on savings especially when members with acute conditions gain virtual access to diagnostic services, treatment support, and care management. Employers can save a lot by implementing virtual healthcare in the health plans of their employees. It is a win-win situation for both the HR Managers and the employees. The HR departments can manage to save a lot on patients with serious medical conditions while the employees on their part get to receive quality medical care.
Increased member engagement and satisfaction: Virtual healthcare has been shown to increase employee engagement and satisfaction through its increased access and lower costs. Few members get active engagement in their jobs and company programs. By delivering value to employees through virtual healthcare, you can expect an increase in employee engagement and satisfaction. In most companies HR departments don’t relate well with employees but this will change when employee start seeing value in their healthcare plans.
Improved health outcomes: The evolution of telehealth from the provision of care to episodic ailments to a full range of medical conditions and complex health issues is resulting in better health outcomes. It is given a central access to a wide range care need and top-rated physicians. Greater value is further achieved when telehealth addresses chronic conditions that are considered costly.
3. Utilization of telehealth taking center stage as digital health is adopted to mainstream
More people are expected to utilize telehealth and adopt the use of digital health devices like smart thermometers, fitness trackers, and virtual assistants. Consumers of the virtual healthcare are getting comfortable with digital health tools. Reliance on these tools has led to telehealth filling the gap that has been missing in the access of quality care.
Digital health technology is on the rise. Statistics show that over 90 percent of adults below the age of 65 own smartphones. These are the devices telehealth providers are leveraging on to grow the healthcare journey.
The digital trend in health technology aligns well with telehealth as individuals get empowered to make smarter decisions on their healthcare needs. On-demand technological offers are on the right track meeting the demands of telehealth.
One of the biggest challenges so far in the adoption of virtual healthcare is consumer awareness. Health plans and employers need to prioritize consumer awareness on telehealth by teaching the employers of the benefits.
However, it is predicated telehealth will be on continued growth with consumer behavior changing as they seek quality medical care.
If applied correctly, telehealth will reduce health care costs while giving consumers the much-needed quality healthcare.
4. Virtual healthcare delivery tackling the largest cost drivers in healthcare provision
Chronic conditions and complex medical cases are the leading drivers of costs on the provision of quality healthcare nowadays. More people than ever before are affected by chronic conditions and complex medical cases worldwide. You probably know somebody that has cancer in your work area or family. If it is not cancer, then it is diabetes, liver problem, kidney problem or something complex. These conditions cost huge sums of money to treat and manage.
Telehealthcare combines the powerful use of analytics to help pinpoint healthcare needs. This is followed by cognitive computing to achieve accuracy and a single access point to top specialists across the globe to address these conditions.
This is one of the boldest ways that virtual healthcare can bring down the high costs of treating and managing chronic and complex medical conditions. A large number of Singaporeans are living with at least one form of chronic condition. This number is expected to double by the year 2050 which will lead to an overburdened health plan, health systems and employers turning to virtual health to combat the rising costs.
But how will costs be tackled?
Predictive analysis by virtual healthcare can identify the complex cases and offer faster access to over 450 medicine specialties across the world. There is further use of cognitive computing to ensure every single option is determined and a proper course of action taken.
This way, the major barriers that lead to high costs of handling such complex conditions are cut down. Data of the past cases can be analyzed by the leading world experts in different areas to come up with evidence-based recommendations. There are cases where individuals with serious conditions and no proper medications have been matched with available clinical trials.
Unlike traditional healthcare, virtual healthcare provides a 24/7 medical access to lower costs. This coupled with the use of artificial intelligence will provide more people with trusted advice and improved outcomes from a single point of access.
Currently, more money is spent on health plans to combat the highest cost drivers in the health sector. However, through virtual care, these rising costs can easily be combated. When patients can get opinions from more than one expert on certain conditions, there are chances or preventing medical errors. Telehealth takes away the barriers to accessing expert second opinions on your medical conditions.
5. Mental health being part of virtual healthcare and organisations taking actions
One of the biggest challenges companies face across the world nowadays is absenteeism due to mental health illness. However, this is slowly being tackled with influencer people coming up and talking about the issue to help reduce stigma.
Most people with mental issues rarely seek for fear of stigma. However, people speak about these issues; they become more open and get ready to seek help. Most companies now recognize the importance of behavioral health and are turning to virtual healthcare companies for help.
More companies now treat mental health issues in the same aspect as physical health issues with more millennial employees expecting mental health care as part of the healthcare package.
It even gets better when you realise that most employees live in areas where it is difficult to access mental health services. There is more focus on separating behavioural healthcare and medical healthcare than before.
As employers become aware of the benefits of including mental health care in health plans of their patients, it will be a win-win situation for employees and employers.
6. Health systems embracing telehealth at scale
More health systems look to embrace telehealth as they redefine their consumer experience and offer value-based care. Telehealth is expected to grow and expand further in the year as organizations pay more attention to the operation of telehealth.
Health systems and hospitals are now looking to offer better care access and conveniences to their patients. There is better coordination, new efficiencies, monitoring and prevention of readmissions. All these changes in health systems and hospitals will not happen without the inclusion of telehealth at some point.
Support resources and operational planning will be the core of most organizations on their way to adopt telehealth. Telehealth will change how patients interact with the provider.
However, for telehealth to experience success, a broad-based approach must be implemented and the right technology selected. Some of the things to address in the implementation of telehealth include.
Market awareness and customer engagement to garner adoption
A platform for users to get useful experience, communicate and record health information
Effective training and recruitment by the providers to ensure proper care delivery is executed
Details will be crucial in the delivery of quality healthcare when using virtual health. Time spent looking for quality health care should be cut down and instead value provided in less time. Operational planning should take the core stage to ensure health systems benefit from telehealth. Members should be informed early of any site visits and the healthcare facilities providing services for telehealth.
7. Connected care growing and data security alert being high
Connected devices will make healthcare data highly portable and easily accessible. This is through the storage of medical records and announcements in smartphones and apps. However, this will lead to healthcare data security concerns. Data integration and security will be on high profile.
Patients and care providers will have better communication bridges than before through the virtual healthcare. The secure real-time bridge between the patients and care providers will help meet the growing patient experience demand.
The current healthcare systems as they are will not help deliver quality care. Stressing on them will only make matters worse. The only way to deliver quality care is by changing the systems, and that is where telehealth comes in. Connected care is still untapped but there major steps towards having patients connected to healthcare providers seem to be on the right track.
The real-time communication between the healthcare providers and patients can be through a secure email communication, telehealth or even remote patient monitoring.
Stakeholders in the healthcare system are using technology to leverage quality healthcare services by empowering patients and improving accountability.
Telehealth can access patients medical and medication histories something that provides a valuable start point for diagnosis. These medical histories and medication are generated in summaries and shared with healthcare plan teams, physicians, and hospital systems.
The seamless connection of patients with physicians and experts for second opinions can help address medical issues at the right time reducing costs.
However, the level of security in the connected device must be paramount in the full realization of these benefits. More devices with seamless integration and home testing for various tests will also be crucial for the success of virtual healthcare.
Technology has revolutionised the way we travel with recommendations for the best dining places, hotels and much more. It can also do the same for our health by giving us recommendations of the best physicians on the go.
8. Artificial Intelligence meeting medical excellent to deliver high-quality care
There is a renewed excitement about artificial intelligence and the possible effects it might have on transforming the healthcare systems. This is where you simply get to type a question and get answers that help you make the correct healthcare decisions.
“What is the best way to care for…?”
However, the answers to such questions are only as good as the data input by experts. Cognitive computing must be warranted. The experts giving the answers must be able to interpret what comes out.
Overall, artificial intelligence pairing with the best medical experts will lead to the highest quality care.
Artificial Intelligence must go hand-in-hand with medical excellence. The leading technologies will come together with the brightest mind in medicine to transform the way people handle diagnosis. What will basically be happening here is Artificial Intelligence working to guide physicians make the correct decisions. It is a relatively new program that relies on medical excellence and quality.
For this program to be a success, experts must contextualise the healthcare data of each patient with their health system.
In general, we can all see healthcare moving towards a virtual delivery where access will be easy and highest quality care given at affordable prices. We can never ignore the changing trends in the healthcare system but instead embrace virtual health care which seems to leverage on technology to offer affordable care. The biggest beneficiaries will be the human resource officers that will create better relations with their employees by offering quality healthcare and saving on the leading healthcare costs.