From passive remote patient monitoring (RPM) and symptom tracking, to automation and new clinical workflows, virtual care will become a critical component of the new revitalized system. It shouldn’t have taken a shock to the system to make these changes, but the pandemic has no doubt propelled us. While virtual care has its few challenges and limitations, this new system is financially accessible and one that will focus more heavily on patient experience and prevention.
Though we’re only in the formative stages of this virtual care revolution, we are already seeing a change in both provider’s perspectives and patient satisfaction.
“We are focused on how to support seniors to age independently and thrive in their homes,” a strategy executive of a $20 billion healthcare system said, noting that their vision will necessarily be powered by intelligent virtual care.
By observing and listening to patients and clinicians alike, we’ve found that there are four major ways in which virtual care will ultimately create a virtuous cycle of financial, functional and emotional benefits.
Convenience and Access
While technological access is a commodity for some, accessibility combined with life-changing data allows for a dramatic reduction in visits to physical clinical settings, which ultimately saves patients the hassle, time and financial burdens which hinder quality of life. This is crucial for patients living with chronic disease and their family members whose healthcare needs largely consume their lives.
A nurse working in an advanced heart failure clinic has said, “feeling connected has physical and mental health benefits,” and Myia Health patients and family members of patients have reported that having the ability to readily connect with their nurses has improved the patients’ day to day confidence.
Patient Control and Empowerment
As a part of a thoughtful virtual care program, chronically-ill patients are passively monitoring relevant physiological vitals and functional markers of health, while also providing an automatic, synthesized report to their PCP or specialist. With this new capability, we have found that heart failure patients will use this data to make daily adjustments to their diets, fluid intake, and daily habits.
“This is a great sign that patients feel engaged and are becoming proactive in managing a disease process that can leave you feeling only able to react,” says an advanced heart failure nurse involved with the virtual care program.
Not only is this program more functional for patients, allowing them to fully share their results with family members, caregivers, or doctors, but this brings an emotionally rewarding element to the process. Patients now have the opportunity to easily monitor their own health, empowering them to take more control of their lives and use the knowledge to actually change their daily habits for the better.
Optimal Clinical Management
With a virtual care program, clinicians have the opportunity to achieve Guideline Directed Medical Therapy (GDMT). Regularly collecting vital signs and symptom data from home allows for timely changes in therapy and treatment, which can prevent escalating problems before they begin.
At Mercy Virtual, RPM data is routinely used to inform medication titration, allowing for more frequent opportunities to further develop and personalize patient care plans. Chronically ill patients and their clinicians don’t have to wait two weeks to see if new medications are working when their daily parameters are being tracked and automatically monitored for problematic changes.
This process also allows for optimal longitudinal care management and gives clinicians the power to understand the patient’s health status. From this data, they can determine if a patient is tolerating their medicine, in need of a script change, or actually taking the prescribed medication as prescribed and at the right dosage. The information is securely shared with other members of the patient’s medical team, creating a more seamless system for achieving optimal individual health outcomes.
Prevention and Prioritization
Achieving optimal health is the goal, no matter the patient, but some patients have more urgent needs than others. The traditional system doesn’t offer a solution for prioritizing patients in need, but a robust virtual care program does. With the intelligence of machine learning, high dimensional data sets are evaluated and processed in order to serve patients in need of urgent clinical interventions.
Prevention doesn’t just save patients high, unexpected medical costs, but it notifies clinicians of a problem prior to an avoidable catastrophic event taking place. Keeping a patient stable and well managed means fewer unplanned ER visits and admissions, which benefits patients, providers, and payers.