What is Virtual Telemedicine?
Virtual telemedicine is only a small part of today’s healthcare transformation. It is one step toward a virtual-first approach to healthcare that can improve access for everyone. The term “telemedicine” is often used interchangeably with virtual care. But telemedicine only includes synchronous interactions like video conference visits between a patient and a provider.
On the other hand, virtual care touches on almost every conceivable specialty in healthcare. It crosses three broad care categories: telehealth, digital therapeutics, and care navigation. As a whole virtual care affords patients greater access and convenience than ever before.
Let’s look at the ways virtual care has become a vibrant part of our healthcare system, in all its many forms.
Telehealth includes synchronous visits, asynchronous communication, and remote patient monitoring.
Synchronous visits involve a two-way conversation between patient and healthcare provider in real time. It can cover a variety of treatment types, such as primary care visits and pharmacy consults for medication reviews.
Asynchronous virtual care is the sharing of information through methods such as patient portals and secure emails, where communication does not happen at the same time. For example, a patient can send a message to the physician and then hours later receive a recommendation or referral.
Remote patient monitoring is a way of transmitting real-time patient data to a provider so a clinician can monitor a patient’s chronic conditions from another location. For example, a patient could recover at home and a nurse could still monitor their vitals from the hospital. Convenient, at-home peripheral devices collect vital signs, blood glucose, daily weights (and many more types of data) and send it via a wireless connection to the provider for review.
Digital therapeutics involves using technology as part of the treatment plan. These therapeutic tools can be valuable partners to help change behaviors and keep chronic health conditions stable.
One example of digital therapeutics in virtual telemedicine would be a software program that physicians and patients use together to combat obesity with digital coaching and decision making tools. The physician can interact with the software and provide support to the patient.
Care navigation involves using digital tools to increase patient engagement and improve health outcomes. With the move toward electronic health records, patients now have better access to their personal health results. Transparency in pricing and on-demand access to their personal health information also allow patients to access educational materials, schedule care, and compare provider quality and procedure prices.
What’s Next for Virtual Care?
With this multi-faceted, comprehensive suite of virtual telemedicine tools now in action, where will telemedicine go from here? Is there still room for more innovation?
Bluestream Health thinks so!
Virtual-first care is more than just a telehealth videoconference or call. It is the framework of healthcare delivery that is both patient-centric and problem-oriented. Virtual-first care means using digital technology to enhance healthcare in collaborative ways that have previously been unimagined. It fosters smooth transitions of care, exchanges of information and collaborative teams, while focusing the lens on the patient’s efficient diagnosis and treatment. Whereas telehealth is sometimes considered an add-on service, virtual-first care is an integrated part of the treatment plan.
Bluestream is leading the way in providing the foundation that future healthcare is built upon. Bluestream builds unobtrusive technology that connects patients and healthcare teams in ways that are both sophisticated and simple.
Forward-thinking organizations don’t just want a telehealth system, they want customizable workflows that will deliver the personalized care patients expect. They want systems that drive outcomes like improved chronic disease management, fewer readmissions, and better quality of life.
Find out where Bluestream is going – and how your healthcare organization can upgrade to virtual-first care.