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How virtual care benefits both patients and health care providers


Patients like convenience and easy access to care, providers see reduction in no-show rate

The road to positive patient health outcomes is not easy; it is a delicate balance of a patient’s experience and their level of satisfaction throughout their health care journey. Providers must ensure they focus not only on delivering the right and highest quality care for the patient, but that they are also providing a positive experience. Both care delivery and the patient experience have undergone dramatic changes with the growing use of virtual health care.

We’ve seen proof of this, especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has profoundly impacted how health care is delivered. It brought on many challenges concerning health care provision, including poor distribution of services, staffing shortages, and the incompatibility between the health needs of the population and the competencies of health professionals, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Unfortunately, these issues have disrupted treatments for ailments like hypertension, diabetes and diabetes-related complications, and cardiovascular emergencies. As a result, alternative strategies such as virtual health care have been implemented to ensure continuity of care and enhanced patient satisfaction.

Statistics of virtual health care

Over the past several years, we have seen record growth in the virtual health care experience. A survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found that virtual care visits can be just as effective as in-person visits. The favorable view expressed by patients is important to note since this survey shows that telehealth usage is up nearly 30% compared to the original study in 2019.Furthermore, a 2021 American Medical Association survey showed that 62% of respondents felt their patients had higher satisfaction levels since they began offering virtual visits.

Some recent studies about telehealth from the NIH also provide some eye-opening statistics:

  • Nearly 98% of respondents reported being satisfied with their telehealth experiences.
  • Up to 91% were satisfied with video consultations.
  • Trust in doctors correlated with higher patient satisfaction with remote visits.
  • About 88% agreed that virtual consultations were more convenient than in-person visits.
  • More than 85% believe telemedicine has the same reliability as in-person visits.

These statistics are important for understanding the patient experience regarding virtual care. Another piece worth looking at is how virtual visits have impacted no-show rates. The NIH reported that while in-office missed appointments were at a rate of about 36%, telehealth visit no-show rates were only 7.5%. The use of virtual care is not just beneficial for patients but creates greater efficiency for providers through the reduction of missed appointments.

By optimizing both patient experience and satisfaction through virtual health care offerings, patients will see better outcomes while reducing their care costs and saving valuable time. A survey conducted by McKinsey and Company released in early 2022 showed that 79 percent of doctors offered both telehealth and in-person, with a further 4 percent also offering telehealth-only appointments. Survey respondents also noted that they saw telehealth as more convenient, were much more satisfied with their care in comparison to in-person care, and would be interested in broader digital healthcare solutions.

Accessing digital-first options

There is a range of reasons why virtual care can significantly improve patient experience and, therefore, satisfaction. Providers are headed in the right direction when patients get greater access to virtual care. Consumers expect products and services to be easy to purchase the way they want to, whether online, through an app, or in-store, and delivered to them as expected in a convenient and timely manner Patients have the same expectations when it comes to health care, making virtual care a highly appealing option for many.

There’s no doubt that people are quick to search the internet when they aren’t feeling well. They may get an immediate answer, but that doesn’t make it accurate. When patients are engaged with a consistent and trusted source they are sure to find more accurate, personalized guidance.

Digital health solutions and engagement with providers virtually can enable patients to get accurate, easy-to-understand information that is relevant and reliable – something they will not find by doing random searches online. This empowers them to feel informed and confident about their care and improves their engagement in their health long-term.

Successful digital care is executed through frictionless movement between the digital and physical worlds and by providing a shared view of patient data across both domains. Because of this, providers have immediate access to relevant data for their patients, allowing them to identify patterns, review medical history, and make recommendations. This means providers can more successfully diagnose symptoms and lower risk levels for patients while ensuring top-notch quality of care. It removes structural complexities, streamlines the experience, simplifies workflows, and arms them with data and insights to improve the overall health and well-being of the patient.

With more data, providers can quickly complete tasks that would have previously taken hours of deciphering manual data. Digital health platforms streamline information and processes for providers, saving administrative burdens and freeing up time for them to dedicate to patients.

The long-term solution

Digital-first care is made five to 15 times more efficient by lowering costs, improving outcomes, and providing greater patient satisfaction. The bottom line is that telemedicine truly puts the patient first by providing them with immediate access to the right care at the right place and at the right cost. By leveraging virtual care, patients can experience higher quality care and higher satisfaction.

When these two factors are optimized through virtual care, patients will experience enhanced clinical outcomes. Virtual care options provide patients with convenience, affordability and direct access to trained medical professionals while encouraging them to engage and be proactive in their healthcare journey, enhancing each experience and increasing overall satisfaction.

Keith Algozzine is co-founder and CEO of UCM Digital Health.

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