The New Role of Virtual Care Technology in Removing Barriers and Improving Connectivity Between Providers, Patients, and Families
Access to quality care is one of the major challenges facing our healthcare system today. Rural areas—home to one in five Americans—are particularly hard hit as hospitals and other clinical resources leave smaller communities in an effort to consolidate operations and lower costs. This means millions of consumers nation-wide have to travel—sometimes for hours—to receive care. This is especially troublesome for pregnant women or those with chronic conditions.
But there’s another aspect of care access that may be under the radar of most people. And that’s the lack of access to, and connectivity between, caregivers, patients, and their families. This is especially true in situations where the patient is in a critical care unit. A great example is the case of a premature baby. While infants often have to remain in the NICU for months, parents have to get back to their lives. Whether to return to a job or to take care of other children at home, it can be emotionally challenging for them to leave their newborn. The lack of real-time connectivity can increase anxiety, which increases calls to the hospital for updates.
Whether separated by distance or other circumstances, the solution is the same: virtual care technology.
There are many factors driving virtual care, with consumerism at the top of the list. Now that patients owe more of their own healthcare costs, they’re demanding more control, more access, and more timely information—all things that can be addressed through virtual care technology. A 2017 patient survey found that 60% of consumers would take advantage of virtual care and 20% would actually change providers for the ability to do so.
Another driver of virtual care is value-based care. In the fee-for-service era, there was little thought given to the idea of a continuum of care. Each patient visit was treated as a separate event. Hospital readmissions—whether related to the visit or not—was seen as a separate event as well. With value-based reimbursement, that mindset is detrimental to a hospital’s financial stability. Episodes of care are now connected, which means the patient’s caregivers need to collaborate in new ways. Virtual care is a key enabler of that collaboration. In addition to the financial aspect of collaboration, virtual care is now proven to increase quality outcomes.
Virtual care in action
AngelEye Health, a leading provider of virtual engagement solutions for NICUs, PICUs, ICUs and Surgery is removing physical barriers that often separate patients, families, and providers, allowing real-time interaction throughout the continuum of care. The AngelEye Camera System extends engagement beyond the hospital walls by allowing parents of children in the NICU to keep an eye on their child throughout their stay via a live feed from a bedside camera.
The company’s Virtual Care Platform allows parents and family members to view or speak to the patient in real-time, which can be comforting to the baby and give parents greater peace of mind. The solution acts as a virtual network between providers, patients, and families, enabling better communication, decision-making and overall care. Providers can send real-time updates to parents via text, video or pictures, and patients can access a virtual library of educational materials and “how to” videos to help improve care after discharge and prevent readmissions.
For providers, virtual care technology gives them the ability to record and store daily rounding videos, which helps remove silos of information while streamlining workflows. Providing a seamless care experience that extends beyond the hospital walls and post discharge improves patient satisfaction and helps increase HCAHPS and Press Ganey scores.
Removing barriers for better care delivery
Patients today demand better communication and more accountability from the providers who treat them and their loved ones. This may explain why malpractice costs and national claims have risen by 57%.
Virtual care technology enables parents and families of critical care patients to engage with their loved ones, along with providers, both inside the hospital and out. Solutions like AngelEye can help. Patients and families gain peace of mind through rapid, visual access, while hospitals enhance communication across the care continuum, increasing patient satisfaction, improving outcomes, and reducing readmissions.