Virtual care has gained significant momentum in recent years—particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which rapidly accelerated telehealth adoption. At the start of the global health crisis, healthcare organizations scrambled to adapt quickly to delivering virtual care. In many cases, that meant using technology for virtual care that simply didn’t meet the mark for long-term use.
The videoconferencing tools initially used for telehealth appointments did help to prevent even higher rates of delayed care, enable providers to triage patients from a distance, and improve access to care for more healthcare patients; however, there’s a big difference between videoconferencing and virtual care solutions.
Now that virtual care has become a mainstay, it’s essential for healthcare organizations to learn the difference between the two technologies—and to make the right upgrades as a result to ensure they’re well-equipped to offer the virtual care options that today’s healthcare consumers have come to expect.
Here’s what you need to know about virtual care technology and how it differs from simple videoconferencing solutions:
What Limitations Simple Videoconferencing Solutions Have
To truly understand the difference between videoconferencing and virtual care solutions, it’s important to recognize the limitations of traditional video platforms. Unlike solutions designed specifically for virtual care experiences, sticking with videoconferencing tools can pose several challenges for healthcare organizations, such as:
Challenges with HIPAA/Regulatory Compliance
While most videoconferencing systems are encrypted with security protocols in place, they don’t help with all that’s involved in becoming and staying compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. This can create potential compliance risks and data privacy concerns for practices and providers.
Limited Integration with Existing Workflows and Tools
Videoconferencing tools such as Twilio and Vonage offer the ability to embed video into various applications, but that’s about it. While virtual care solutions are designed to support robust interfacing, videoconferencing tools often have limited integration capabilities when it comes to existing workflows and technologies. When possible, system integration is also typically very resource-intensive for IT departments.
No Support for All the Steps in an Episode of Care
Standard videoconferencing tools only support the actual virtual visit but leave out the other steps in an episode of care for a complete healthcare interaction that mirrors in-person visits. As a result, providers using these technologies still need to solve for patient registration, intake, waiting, and post-visit summaries.
Why Bluestream Health Is the Ideal Virtual Care Platform
On the other hand, Bluestream Health is the ideal virtual care platform for healthcare organizations looking to offer telehealth appointments. Here’s why:
Designed to Support Care from Pre- to Post-Visit
The Bluestream Health platform is not only a videoconferencing tool—it’s a full virtual care solution designed to support all the steps in an episode of care. That means not only supporting the video visit itself but also everything from registering physicians and managing provider permissions to distributing access to patients and physicians.
Offers a Complete Set of APIs for Seamless Integration
Our solution is also uniquely configured to integrate with clinical workflows and existing technologies, such as electronic medical records (EMRs). This is important because many healthcare organizations are looking for APIs that allow them to provide access to care outside of the EMR. While this is very difficult with videoconferencing solutions, Bluestream’s single sign-on (SSO) capability moves patients from the EMR to the virtual care platform seamlessly without requiring them to log in with their credentials.
Easy to Implement with Little-to-No IT Support Required
If an IT department at a healthcare organization undertook implementation themselves, it would take a year as opposed to weeks to complete. However, the Bluestream Health platform is incredibly user-friendly and easy to implement, with little-to-no IT support required. For developers, that means they won’t need to provide support to their customers’ IT team to enable virtual care workflows, saving time. money, and resources.
As you can see, there are countless differences between videoconferencing tools and comprehensive solutions that are purpose-built for virtual care. Referwell is the perfect example of a healthcare organization that was able to quickly and easily enable virtual care delivery after integrating Bluestream’s API into its existing platform.