Virtual care is more than just video visits

As telemedicine continues to broaden its footprint across healthcare delivery in America, the needs of the digitally savvy public are an essential factor to consider when developing and launching a telehealth program.

While video chat is certainly one component of telemedicine, user expectations demand much more than just basic video chats delivered by business conferencing technology providers. Healthcare consumers have been conditioned to enjoy a higher-level experience, and in order to deliver that, healthcare providers require complete and robust workflows, clinical feature sets, and business tools focused on operations that will allow them to launch, operate, and scale telehealth services across service lines over time. When looking to launch a virtual care service, providers should be aware of the many business video conferencing solutions that are now making the move into healthcare to compete with tried-and-true virtual care technology providers.

It's an understatement to say that the Internet has disrupted many marketplaces and set higher expectations for quality, availability and delivery of services. Online consumers expect to have a seamless experience that is easy to navigate, fully inclusive in functionality, and rich in features.

Consider how online retailers, financial institutions, and the travel industry now meet consumer needs. Take the airline industry, for instance, which has largely eliminated the need for travel agents. Customers create and manage their own accounts, research and book flights, and pay for their flights as well as for onboard amenities such as food and Internet access, all from a single software application. This is the kind of experience that healthcare consumers are increasingly expecting of their providers.

While basic video conferencing technology can look appealing, it cannot provide the comprehensive user experience that a true virtual care solution does. Whether hospital systems are planning to deploy virtual care in one service line or across multiple service lines, the technology chosen as its foundation to launch digital exam rooms will have a significant impact on user adoption and the ability to scale and operate virtual services in the future. It’s simply not enough to deploy a solution that offers only high-definition video chat. What is needed is a full-stack software technology platform that can provide a total virtual clinic experience that the digitally savvy patient expects, with all the utilities and features needed to engage them and provide the care they need. Such solutions deliver robust virtual healthcare services and can scale to deliver care across multiple service lines and across the care continuum. Not only are patients benefiting from full-scale telehealth programs, but providers and their administrative team are as well, with specific user interfaces that can be built into their daily workflows and integrated with electronic health records.

Another important differentiator between business video conferencing providers and telehealth software solutions is the technology’s ability to connect the care continuum. This is done through robust cloud-based technology, creating a powerful enterprise-level tool that eliminates the heavy burden of maintaining a locally installed native system while delivering all the benefits and security of cloud computing. The platform can be accessed from anywhere with redundant backup and recovery systems and the highest level of data center security and automatic software upgrades. Finally, as the hospital or health system grows, the telehealth software can grow with it. Cloud-based virtual care has the ability to rapidly scale to meet the needs of any size organization and connect multiple services lines, creating a complete digital health system in the cloud.

By investing in a virtual care platform rather than simply a video visit solution, hospital systems can develop and deploy true enterprise-level telehealth, delivering everything from virtual urgent care services to pediatric care to home care and skilled nursing facility support, and other future service lines, on one platform. With such a digital hub for virtual care, providers can meet the needs of today’s increasingly sophisticated healthcare consumers, improving their access to and experience of convenient and effective care.

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