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Embracing the Virtual Care Revolution

Contributors

Carl H. Kennedy, FACHE - Managing Director, Outcomes Delivery, GE Healthcare

Promoting the Next Normal with Virtual Care

We discussed the negative connotations of Virtual Care in “The Virtual Care Revolution? Are Detractors Holding the Future of Virtual Care from Reaching its Potential?” Now we turn our attention to the next normal of Virtual Care. How do we transform those that do not believe into believers and discover our next normal together?


Next Up – Changing the Paradigm

With all the potential negative connotations, there are also so many positive ideas around Virtual Care. In fact, it would take many articles to unpack them all. For the sake of a high-level discussion, a few scenarios are highlighted below:

Working Smarter & Not Harder – “Clinician Burnout”

It is widely reported that there is a ‘burnout’ crisis unfolding in healthcare. i Across clinical roles, we are seeing record numbers of seasoned providers hanging up their white coats for the last time. This tends to take the form or retirement. However, in other scenarios, clinical providers are leaving the bedside for roles in which they will indirectly touch patients. The boom of healthcare companies has created the need for clinical consultation and expertise for non-patient care organizations. This loss of knowledge and skills bedside is troubling. As Baby Boomers approach an astronomic need for healthcare, the crisis begins to come into public view.

Virtual Care platforms are offering a unique way for clinical providers to “work smarter and not harder” by prioritizing patients, recognizing patient conditions, and providing a safety net. The idea of a Virtual (Digital Software) Patient Advocate is beginning to come to life. While still in the formative stages, the virtual advocate could present the opportunity for clinical providers to have a Virtual Collaborator as part of their Virtual Care platform. With the introduction of artificial intelligence and machine learning, there are efficiencies we have yet to understand. These efficiencies could be boundless.

Clinical Training & Simulation

Healthcare has been long in the tooth for the “see one, do one, teach one” training mentality. With ever elongating training periods, the people involved in training clinicians directly affect their trainees’ education and clinical aptitude. Using Virtual Care platforms in addition to clinical simulation training creates a new environment for training.

Imagine real-time feedback based on clinical care evidence in a simulated environment. No longer are we placing patients at unnecessary risk because a clinical provider “has to learn the hard way.” Simulation labs are popping up across the country. Although their capabilities and standardization are unknown, this is a defining moment. The healthcare industry can think differently and potentially change the outcomes for many future patients.

Just Culture & Onboarding

The blame game in poor outcomes has evolved in the new Just Culture approach. For those who have adopted this approach, there is an understanding that errors are not intentional. Instead, they should be investigated and shared to try and prevent future occurrences.

On-boarding new clinical providers to an organization is fraught with variances, just like clinical education. Experiences and training are often seeded in best practice and data driven. But they are also sometimes based on fanciful wishes. A favorite saying is, “While the policy says we should do it this way, let me tell you how I do it…”

Virtual Care platforms introduce advanced safety net capabilities, another win for organizations. With the potential of a Virtual Collaborator, new clinical providers can safely ask questions in confidence and not fear smirks from colleagues. Moreover, with access to specialists only a video screen away, advanced care at the right time, for the right patient, begins to present itself as a norm. In this way we can move away from the ‘practice of medicine’ and towards the ‘science of medicine’.

Conclusion

Virtual Care has arrived and is evolving with the many nuances of our healthcare industry. If we all work together, the full benefits to be found are yet to be realized. The next normal for Virtual Care is in each of our hands. The question is, are you onboard and willing to embrace the Virtual Care Revolution?


References

i: https://www.ahrq.gov/prevention/clinician/ahrq-works/burnout/index.html

ii: https://psnet.ahrq.gov/issue/just-culture-guide