What’s Ahead for Virtual Health: 5 Key Takeaways from the BGH Virtual Health Summit
Telehealth and virtual care usage has surged, especially amid the pandemic and people are looking to technology for easy, accessible, and contactless health experiences. The Business Group on Health (BGH) recently took a close look at the rapid virtual health evolution, including the progress that has been made and the additional opportunities that lie ahead. Here are five takeaways from that event where experts shared the many reasons virtual healthcare is likely here to stay:
- Virtual health experiences reduce the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic
At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a 200 percent increase in virtual healthcare visits. Although there has been a slight decline since then, it is clear that virtual healthcare remains popular, according to information shared in the summit keynote, Where Are We on The Journey Toward Value, Appropriateness and Integration of Virtual Health into the Broader Care Continuum?
One reason for this is that virtual healthcare allows for patient preference, and health plans, health systems, and employers are no longer restricting people to traditional healthcare experiences. And while relied upon to provide and track information such as heart rate, physical activity, and nutrition – wearable devices do not remove the need for traditional healthcare visits. However, they offer insight and new opportunities to prioritize health without in-person contact.
2. Virtual health experiences are easy and available
The current healthcare system can be confusing for people given the various providers and specialists, as stated during panel one of the summit, Assessing Key Drivers of Quality and Value in Areas with the Greatest Virtual Footprint.
A virtual healthcare system can integrate data and offer easy navigation for healthcare providers while still maintaining a quality level of care. Some platforms have easy communication methods, utilizing personalized messages, to ensure users understand what they are doing. They can also streamline the healthcare process by collecting health data through wearables and then allowing users to send their data to healthcare professionals without needing additional vendors or coordination.
3. Virtual health technology has improved and expanded
Healthcare is becoming easy to monitor and analyze at home. Wellbeing apps that monitor fitness and nutrition have high evaluations from employees, as discussed in the summit closing employer panel. With an increasing number of people working from home as a result of the pandemic, wearable wellness technology is growing in popularity.
Easy access to data and efficient and accurate data integration allows for easy navigation of online health platforms for healthcare providers and patients. This way, people are comfortable sharing health information to create programs that work for them. Ease and data privacy are important as virtual healthcare expands, as mentioned during panel two of the summit, Charting a Path to Successful Virtual Health Integration and Patient Experience Optimization.
4. Virtual health options may help reduce healthcare inequalities
Virtual health options are available and convenient. Although a digital divide exists, virtual health options provided by systems employers are great solutions to health care inequalities. Unlike traditional healthcare methods, virtual options work against geographic and language barriers, increasing the accessibility of healthcare, according to the information mentioned during panel two of the summit, Charting a Path to Successful Virtual Health Integration and Patient Experience Optimization. The customizable nature of virtual healthcare platforms better reflects differences among users and allows them to adjust features to fit their needs.
5. Virtual health experiences allow employers to prioritize prevention
Instead of focusing on acute care, virtual healthcare allows employers to focus on prevention. Virtual healthcare moves toward outcomes-based pay rather than fee-for-service pay, so there are greater performance guarantees for patients. Virtual healthcare also emphasizes the prevention of chronic conditions, shifting the focus to accessible care methods in non-traditional settings, as representatives from Dell Technologies and General Motors discussed in the summit closing employer panel.
These large employers elaborated on the challenges of having too many point solutions, and they both agree that virtual healthcare is going to be a key component in care delivery.
Overall, this event was a showcase of what’s happening now in health delivery and the future milestones that will be critical to achieving the full promise and potential of virtual health.