Blog

How to Address Barriers to Scaling Virtual Care

The past few years have effectively demonstrated that telehealth and virtual care offer a unique way to bring quality care to patients while reducing the burden on both patients and providers.

The past few years have effectively demonstrated that telehealth and virtual care offer a unique way to bring quality care to patients while reducing the burden on both patients and providers. With over 85% of physicians using telehealth today, this burgeoning care method is here to stay. As the field and technology continue to evolve, however, the distinction between telehealth and virtual care is becoming clearer, along with the limitations of the former.

Telehealth is a way to provide patient care without seeing that patient in person. This can be accomplished via telephone, video calls, or instant messaging and is often limited to treating common illnesses and managing chronic conditions. The frequent result of a telehealth consultation is an ePrescription, or referral to in-person care.

Virtual care expands on what is possible and encompasses a much broader remote care spectrum. Virtual care platforms enable remote monitoring, patient education, medical training, and the use of clinician extenders on the ground. This allows providers greater flexibility in how they provide care and expands the conditions that they are able to treat, allowing for more complex cases and better patient management.

Other notable differences between telehealth and virtual care are that telehealth is primarily used to manage established patients while virtual care is better able to facilitate specialty care and new patient management. Additionally, telehealth is often limited in the number of vital signs that can be collected, while virtual care, through the use of clinician extenders, can provide a full virtual examination with the in-person clinician on hand to collect any necessary physiological information about the patient while orienting the patient to the specialist as if they were physically in the room with them. This also enables better team collaboration as opposed to single physician-patient interactions, allowing for “teach while you treat” opportunities and upskilling the clinical workforce.

Even with the recent increase in the adoption of virtual care, however, many practices still face barriers to starting or growing their virtual care offerings.

 

Barriers to starting or growing virtual care offerings

Complicated new technologies

The “digital divide” is one of the most significant barriers to virtual care. Patients may have insufficient access to technology, inadequate digital literacy, and limited access to a good internet connection. On the provider side, the initial costs of setting up a virtual care platform can be a significant barrier for many practices. Additionally, staff training, introducing new workflows, and finding technological support all require additional time and financial investment.

By focusing on simple Assisted Reality technologies such as Head-Mounted Displays and Smart Glasses that offer “plug and play” functionality and enable instant remote collaboration, providers can overcome many of these challenges.

Disconnect with the clinical process

Telehealth and virtual care both come with a learning curve and implementing these new systems in a busy practice can be challenging. This new way of providing patient care and relationship building can be hard to fit into existing daily practices and incorporate into electronic health records.

By avoiding platforms with complicated setup and systems, clinics can reduce IT delays and decrease initial barriers.

Limited clinical data and observation

Another common barrier is the limitations around clinical data and the observation of patients. In-person examinations provide a wealth of information, and without these data points, it can be difficult to provide the correct diagnosis and treatment plan for patients. Virtual care platforms that support human intelligence at the point of care can help practices overcome this barrier.

Physician and staff shortages

Over the past few years, there has been growing concern about the increasing physician shortage. A lack of specialist staff can be intimidating when a practice is considering adding or growing its virtual care offerings. By utilizing clinician extenders in the field, such as NPs, RNs, MAs or LCSWs, providers can extend the reach of the available workforce, increasing specialty physician productivity by up to 30 percent, as well as increasing access to specialty care in the community.

Poor remote clinician and patient interaction

While 60% of clinicians agree that telemedicine allows them to provide quality care to patients, learning how to build strong patient relationships with remote interactions can be daunting at first. By building a strong care team and internal relationships, physicians and clinician extenders can continue to build strong connections with patients remotely.

 

Introducing next-generation virtual care

The next generation of virtual care focuses on experience and performance to bring people together remotely so that care teams can work more effectively. Hippo Virtual Care™ focuses on improving the care team patient experience and performance through improved communication, collaboration, and control by focusing on provider-extender integration. We achieve this by offering true care team collaboration between the specialist, clinician on the ground, and the patient, enabled by our “through the eyes of the clinician” Assisted Reality technology. Our clinical-grade platform enables providers to examine and treat patients ‘in place’ via a tech-enabled clinician extender in the field.

Hippo’s plug-and-play installation offers remote setup options and can have your team up and running in as little as one hour. With an intuitive voice-activated interface, our head-mounted displays and smart glasses do not require clinicians to have in-depth technological knowledge, helping practices overcome the digital divide.

Our platform was designed by medical experts to allow for easy integration into existing health systems. All of our wearable technology is fully networked with 5G capabilities, WiFi, and Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, the open API platform allows for easy integration with third-party platforms, allowing you the customization needed to seamlessly integrate with your existing workflows and systems.

The easy integration with clinical extenders in the field also allows for strong patient-provider relationships. With Hippo’s Virtual Care Platform, you can help first responders in the field access life-saving expertise in real-time, expand your distance learning for medical students and ongoing skills training for staff members, and bring a new dimension of telehealth to patients at home with improved access to specialist care.

With Hippo, your team has ready access to the technology you need to care for patients, with the simplicity and ease of use to reduce barriers to virtual care. Our scalable process allows you to start with only what you need and add the “bells and whistles” later as you are ready to grow your virtual care program. By adding virtual care, you can provide faster triage, smarter decision-making, and reduce clinical errors through a more collaborative care model, delivered remotely. The next generation of virtual care is already here.

Learn how you can improve your specialty care access and clinician productivity with the Hippo Virtual Care platform.