virtual health care


Transforming care delivery through virtual health

Establishing a competitive advantage with health care technology

Virtual health can help increase access, improve value, and establish a competitive advantage by operationalizing technology solutions.

What is virtual health?

Virtual health encompasses several digital and telecommunication technologies used to deliver health care. It can act as a complement, or even a complete substitute, for care based on the needs of the patient population, capabilities of the organization, and availability of resources. The goal is to improve access to critical services and reduce cost constraints across the continuum of care.

The health care landscape is primed for the expanded adoption of this new care model. Several key factors elevate the interest in implementing these telemedicine services, including:

  • Expected physician shortages
  • Continued growth in advanced technologies
  • Increased patient demand
  • Changing policy landscape

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Market potential and increasing competition

The virtual health space has potential to transform care delivery. A 2016 report estimated that the US virtual health market will reach $3.5B in revenues by 2022.1 There is a clear trend demonstrating the effectiveness of clinical solutions such as telemedicine and other telehealth services and remote monitoring. Our experience has shown that developing the appropriate infrastructure and operating model along with the technology is a key differentiator.

With such high market potential for the broader virtual health delivery model, industry leaders are moving to establish footholds in the provider landscape.

First, third-party, on-demand physician networks—sponsored by established insurance groups—reach patients directly at their home. Commercial pharmacy retailers are also engrained in this space. Walk-up clinics allow patients to speak virtually with a provider, without a scheduled appointment. Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors are expanding core offerings by partnering with large, established heath systems to provide virtual consults and monitoring capabilities.

Organizations must take a critical look at the needs of their community and analyze their regional landscape to determine how to tackle the influx of new competitors.

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A framework to approach virtual health

​The specific issue that each provider organization faces is unique, and carefully choosing which combination of targeted goals, market differentiation profile, and underlying value drivers to focus on is critical to selecting the most appropriate solutions while minimizing the chances of failure.

Once provider organizations have identified the primary mix of issues and goals to focus on, they should factor in their unique profile and overall market position to identify relevant technologies that meet their needs.

Then, they can begin to make focused decisions around which mix of virtual health technologies and organizational capabilities most effectively meets their needs, and can sequence adoption of them to maximize impact.

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Determine partnership model based on desired capabilities

​Based on a health system's maturity, financial health, and desired capabilities, the organization will need to decide how to execute their virtual health program of choice. Currently, there are three distinct options:

  1. Partner with a third-party vendor: Work with external organizations, leveraging their scale and experience, to deliver on-demand services to a specific patient population.
  2. Create a customized internal platform: Build own tool to allow for more customization and keep data in-network.
  3. Implement a hub and spoke model: Partner with other health systems to centralize virtual delivery and act as a spoke to a larger hub station.

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Understand stakeholder needs

Finally, the organization must understand how to bring all stakeholders into the planning. This includes clinical and operational staff, third-party contractors, and patients and caregivers. Each stakeholder group has its own set of needs and thus, it will be important to have representatives from these groups involved as planning and implementation gets underway.

Even more, keeping these groups engaged, from initial project planning through implementation and go-live, will be critical and tactics will vary based on the stakeholder group.

Learn more about how virtual health has the potential to transform care delivery.

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As virtual health evolves and becomes a mainstay for health care organizations to deliver patient care, proper planning will be essential to ensure long-term success.

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