Virtual healthcare, like remote patient monitoring, is a term that is often used synonymously with telehealth or telemedicine, but they are not the same thing. Let’s break it down.
Telehealth refers to electronic and telecommunications technology used to provide remote care and services. It can refer to remote clinical and non-clinical services, such as provider training, education, and administrative meetings. The use of telehealth crosses many medical services including dentistry, counseling, physical and occupational therapy, home health, chronic disease monitoring and management, and more. Telehealth technology makes telemedicine and virtual care possible.
Telemedicine describes the use of technology by a health care provider to diagnose and treat patients without an in person visit. With telemedicine, healthcare providers can examine patients’ conditions and deliver care at a distance through telehealth platforms like video, audio, and/or instant messaging methods.
Virtual care is a broader term than telemedicine, that includes all the ways healthcare providers remotely interact with patients. While virtual care is seen as a form of telemedicine, it takes a more comprehensive approach and encompasses all forms of digital healthcare services. These services range from treating patients via telehealth, virtual check-ins as a follow up to an in-person visit, monitoring vitals and conditions, responding to patient questions and concerns about their diagnoses, condition or treatment plan, and providing service when office hours are closed.
Beyond this, virtual care provides more than just a variety of digital healthcare services. Virtual care:
- Enables Value-Based Care: Shifting from the limited style of telehealth that only focuses on video visits or telephone calls, virtual care provides a full-service model.
- Mirrors In-Person Workflows: The full-service virtual care model is possible when it uses an integrated, flexible platform that can mesh with established workflows. Technology appears seamless for both patient and provider.
- Nurtures Patients: Through the pre-encounter, the encounter and the post-encounter, physicians have the knowledge of patient conditions and determine whether an in-person or virtual visit is needed, makes appointments easy, mirrors in-person appointments, and provides consistent follow up by automating future visits.
- Strengthens the Patient-Doctor Relationship: Patients can interact with well-known clinicians by switching from a single-use, transactional telemedicine approach to a holistic virtual care one. Prior to, during, and following their virtual care sessions, providers have access to patients’ health records. Virtual care provides a stronger relationship which drives better outcomes.
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