This shift will need to be made as the current methods of delivering care are not sustainable, in terms of workers needed, the care that will be demanded by a larger aging population with increased rates of chronic disease, and in overall costs to governments and consumers.5
Researchers in the Netherlands estimated that between 19% to 32% of care could be moved from the hospital to the home.6 They did note that while the wards could reduce nurses needed per shift by moving to remote monitoring, they would have to invest in telehealth nurses and the devices needed to operate virtually. However, once this integrated model could be scaled hospital wide, the system experienced savings.
Too many pilots across the globe hint at the potential for virtual and remote care, but these options must be integrated holistically so it can be truly scaled.
Hybrid models must consider patient experience to achieve successful consumer engagement. In a patient preferences study at Johns Hopkins, a third of patients surveyed listed qualities such as physician kindness and “efforts to connect with me as a human being” as their top concern about the patient-physician relationship, while 80% wanted shared decision making for medications.7
The burden to the patient to seek care can also be reduced through virtual, as one US study found that a visit to an in-person urgent care center took on average 10 times longer than the average total time for a virtual urgent care visit.8 Ninety percent of survey respondents were satisfied with the virtual visit, and 40% said they would have gone to the ER as an alternative or have delayed care without the virtual option.
“How do we keep people well, but when needed, how do we provide the best care for them in the most frictionless way?” asked Eric Liston, administrator of Connect Services for Intermountain Healthcare, during an EY webcast on virtual care.9 He continued, “We’ve built our programs based on data and analytics to make sure that we are giving personalized care.”