doctor using touchpad

Perspectives

Embracing virtual health results in improved care

Expand rural public and commercial access to care while reducing costs

Public and private sector providers that embrace virtual health may improve clinical outcomes, increase patient engagement, expand access to care, and reduce costs. Efficiencies gained through virtual health applications could improve care and drive down costs for providers.

The potential of virtual health

Lack of access to physicians and other health care resources is no laughing matter to geographically isolated residents and organization. Access issues are not confined to the public sector; patients of rural commercial health systems may have to travel many miles for everything from check-ups to chemotherapy. The situation is heightening the urgency for widespread adoption of virtual health, a method of enabling continuous, connected care health care via digital and telecommunication technologies. It is important to note that this goes beyond simply enabling video visits–virtual health has the capability to act as a complement to in-person care.

Common applications of virtual health include:1

  • Synchronous care to improve patients' ease of access to providers
  • Physician-to-physician communication to improve patient care through information sharing
  • Chronic disease management to improve monitoring and alerts for chronic disease patients
  • Virtual social work to improve communication and care for underserved populations
  • Telehealth care to improve patient monitoring (e.g., electronic intensive care unit (eICU), telepsychology, telestroke)
  • Remote patient monitoring to improve providers' understanding of patients' health and medical data
  • Care management process to improve patients' understanding of and engagement with their treatment plans
  • Patient adherence to improve medication adherence, health tracking, and patient accountability
  • Care coordination to improve payer/provider relationships

It is estimated that virtual visits could save an average of $126 per visit,2  and about $7 billion worth of primary care physicians' time annually could be saved if yearly visits shifted to virtual visits.Indeed, the virtual health space has the potential to transform care delivery. A 2016 report estimated that the US virtual health market will reach $3.5 billion in revenue by 2022.4 While outcomes from early adopters have been mixed, there is a clear trend demonstrating the effectiveness of clinical solutions such as telehealth and remote monitoring. For example, recent US telehealth efforts have generated savings in chronic disease management, which takes up 85 percent of the country's direct health care spending.5

Deloitte has been active in the virtual health arena for years, working with our private and public sector clients and our technology alliances to develop and implement solutions designed to provide accessible, high-quality care, and help clients work towards a competitive advantage. To learn more about virtual health and its applications, please check out the following topical publications by Deloitte.

Back to top

Blue spikes in a circle

Deloitte virtual health insights

Virtual health: Neither snow, nor rain, nor distance are barriers to high-quality health care
Efficiencies gained through virtual health applications could improve care and drive down costs for Military Health System and other providers across the care continuum. While outcomes from early adopters have been mixed, there is a clear trend demonstrating the effectiveness of clinical solutions such as telehealth and remote monitoring.

Consumers are on board with virtual health options: Can the health care system deliver?
Seventy-seven percent of consumers have never tried a virtual health care visit. Here are some reasons why this is the case, along with strategies for health system and hospital leaders to increase adoption and meet increasing consumer demand.

Medicare’s 2019 payment proposal is another reason to embrace virtual care
The virtual door to the doctor’s office swung open a little wider on July 12 when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed that Medicare pay physicians for virtual check-ins and other tech-enabled services.

Physicians and health systems could be left behind if they ignore consumer interest in virtual care
Given how much we now rely on these devices, it is surprising that so many hospital executives, physicians, and even consumers remain hesitant to use similar technology for health care visits. While each group has its own reasons for not fully embracing virtual care, they also understand that the technology could help improve the way care is delivered, according to results of new physician and consumer surveys from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

Medicaid and digital health: Findings from the Deloitte 2018 Survey of US Health Care Consumers
A recent Deloitte survey revealed that most Medicaid beneficiaries have the technology and appetite for digital health. How can states and managed care organizations do more to engage them?

How do health care consumers and physicians perceive virtual care?
Virtual health care is popular—in theory. Deloitte surveys of US physicians and health care consumers found support for the concept, but doctors aren't meeting demand. However, organizations that get on board sooner rather than later may see the benefits.

What can health systems do to encourage physicians to embrace virtual care?
With changing health care reimbursement models, growing consumer demand, and advances in digital technologies, virtual care is a must-have for health systems. But how can hospitals and health systems gain physician buy-in? It might be easier than you think.

Deloitte Digital's PatientConnect builds value with Salesforce Health Cloud
Designed to accelerate integration with cloud-based solutions for the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries

Transforming care delivery through virtual health
Virtual health can help increase access, improve value, and establish a competitive advantage by operationalizing technology solutions.

Once a vision for the future, virtual health is a reality of the present
Virtual health is no longer just an idea. It is beginning to infiltrate hospitals and health systems, and patients, employers, and physicians are growing more comfortable with the idea. Virtual health, however, is in its infancy, and it is important that health systems have the right infrastructure and strategies in place as they move forward. To stay relevant, hospitals and health systems should prepare for this future, which seems to have already arrived.

Virtual health: The time is now
Virtual health is on the rise and set to become a standard in the way care is delivered. While many health care organizations I've been working with are embracing virtual health in some capacity, many have the opportunity to think about it as a competitive advantage and as a driver of connected, coordinated care. Virtual health is ripe for adoption, and the time is now.

Virtual health: Considering the technology implications
Virtual health is changing the way health care is delivered and has the potential to impact and improve the quality and value of care. Through conversations with clients, I have noticed that there is significant variation in the adoption of virtual health across the health care industry.

Back to top

Green spikes in a circle

References

1 Deloitte virtual health iPad application, https://marvelapp.com/81ce021/screen/39109287

2 http://www.healthcareitnews.com/blog/virtual-visits-cutting-healthcare-costs

3 http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170210/NEWS/170219996

4 Verify Markets. "High growth potential for the United States Virtual Healthcare Market". March 23, 2016,
http://www.polycom.com/content/dam/polycom/common/documents/success-stories/saint-vincent-health-system-cs-enus.pdf

5 "FCC Seeks to Run $100M Telehealth Pilot Program; Brendan Carr Comments," Executivegov.com, July 12, 2018,
http://www.executivegov.com/2018/07/fcc-seeks-to-run-100m-telehealth-pilot-program-brendan-carr-comments/

Did you find this useful?