- Healthcare industry is moving towards Virtual Care Technology amid the COVID-19 pandemic and digitalization in the healthcare sector is anticipated to boost in upcoming years.
- During COVID-19 pandemic, virtual care technology protects healthcare workers from exposure to COVID-19 cases at the same time it has improved quality as well as cost-effectiveness of providing treatments.
- A leading virtual care and communication platform Conversa Health has recently raised US$12 million to grow its virtual care and communication platform.
The number of cases of COVID-19 across the globe has crossed the ~7.5 million mark, including 422,770 deaths on 13 June 2020 (at 10:19 AM CEST). This global virus crisis has shattered healthcare systems, with hospitals jammed while streets, malls and public areas remain empty.
COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic activities to the standstill, and many nations, at this time, are in the eye of the storm considering the economic impacts of the pandemic. Moreover, as per the World Trade Organization, world trade is anticipated to plunge by 13%-32% during 2020 as the coronavirus turmoil disrupts regular economic activity across the globe.
The deadly infectious disease is spreading at speed, and at present, it is essential to curb the spread and provide treatment to the already infected persons. Pharma and biotech companies are circling their wagons to develop a safe and effective vaccine to combat this novel coronavirus.
During this turmoil, the frontline workers are at the highest risk as they are catering the patients with coronavirus infection. However, some digital service providers are coming up with technologies which can provide treatment by maintaining a certain distance with the patient. Through this approach, the transmission of the virus can be stopped. Digital health platforms are being used in hospitals worldwide to protect doctors, nurses and other staff and reduce exposure to COVID-19 cases. Within a few weeks, COVID-19 turmoil has brought about a decade of change to telehealth and virtual care technologies.
In this article, we will acquaint you with the virtual care technology its advantage and challenges-
Rise of Virtual Care Technology
An explosion of virtual care amid the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing the anticipation that the digital health service providers will make sure now that the individuals can continue video call with their doctor.
Virtual healthcare refers to the use of enabling technology like video call, with digital mobile applications, text messages, sensors, and social platforms for offering health services in a way that is independent of time or location.
In conjunction with other telehealth facets, such as mobile health and remote patient monitoring, the virtual care is now becoming not just a typical cog in the ‘healthcare delivery’ wheel, but also a way to considerably improve quality and cost-efficiency.
Virtual Healthcare and Telehealth
Like telehealth, remote patient management virtual healthcare is sometimes used in similar meaning, but this is not same as telehealth. Virtual healthcare is a part of telemedicine, which is a larger term covering the entire technology-driven and remote healthcare services.
Telehealth or telemedicine is an extensive category of solutions that provides a facility of catering patients from a distance, examples of telehealth are providing care to a patient at a distance, managing chronic disease, and managing high-risk pregnancy. These processes could be done remotely by maintaining a distance.
Virtual care combines all the approaches implemented by the healthcare specialists, such as keeping a check on vitals after the surgery, report after the in-person visits, examining further treatment possibilities and plans, and many more.
HAVE YOU READ: Telemedicine: A Game-Changer to Combat COVID-19
Virtual care technology trends transforming healthcare
Virtual healthcare is referred to as a subset of telehealth or telemedicine, which includes technology-driven and remote healthcare.
The quick upscaling of the virtual health care facilities and the integration of telemedicine has provided innovative digital health technologies. Self-triaging, as well as contact tracing for detecting COVID-19 infection, are among the innovative class of digital health applications that startups, along with large companies, are looking at to take advantage of the emerging prospects.
Primary biomarkers such as respiratory rate and heart rate, if consistently collected with discernable perspective, can offer substantial prognostic value on the temporal health status of the patient. More significantly, these primary biomarkers now can be collected easily by using non-invasive devices and therefore render concerns around patient access or means with technology less challenging.
By employing virtual care technology, health care experts or clinicians can systematize and coordinate actions, parallelize encounters through asynchronous interaction, as well as develop customized care protocols and strategies.
Moreover, these advancements can have considerable effects on providing medicine.
Major applications of virtual care technology in use:
- With continuous supervising of vital signs and metrics, it becomes comfortable for clinicians and healthcare experts to keep track of the health status of the patient.
- It provides easy communication between clinician and patient for improved information sharing and providing better patient care.
- This is one of the most convenient approaches for monitoring patients with chronic disorders and notify them from time to time. Even it allows physicians to check the health status of patients.
- Remote patient monitoring helps physician and healthcare experts to understand the symptoms and medical condition of patients, based on which they can future design the treatment plans.
Companies have been active in the virtual care space and are striving hard to expand their presence. Let us look at an example where a US-based player raised capital to fund its expansion plans.
Conversa Health raises US$12 million to fund the growth of its virtual care and communication platform
A leading virtual care and communication platform, Conversa Health, this year released a group of COVID-19 virtual care programs being utilized by health systems across the US. Moreover, the company is also working with businesses who require help for checking on the health of their employees.
Notably, Conversa Health recently raised ~US$12 million as COVID-19 accelerates the need for digital health.
Challenges for Virtual Health:
Even though the virtual healthcare technology is anticipated to be quite lucrative from revenue prospects and highly beneficial for the patients in staying connected with their physicians and healthcare experts. However, certain drawbacks need to be kept in mind while investing in the technology.
Let us shed some light on the challenges in virtual healthcare:
Diagnosis Error or Misdiagnosis
Diagnosis error often happen in in-person health care, but the risks increase when it comes to virtual healthcare. Moreover, the fact that there is no clear standard of care formed by state governments, and quality may be uneven between many healthcare experts.
As internet is necessary for communication with patients but sometimes due to poor network connectivity physician cannot listen to the symptoms properly or miss out some symptoms sent by patients over text, and it might turn into major fault from the end of the physician.
Since, in the case of virtual health tech, the interaction takes place remotely, and physicians get restricted while recommending their treatment through virtual means.
It can be predicted that in the upcoming years, the healthcare sector would cater to patients mostly at home or by virtual settings. Healthcare industry would focus more on providing remote care at the same time reducing in-person patients visit. Behind this value-based care shift, all the credit goes to the advancing technology.
Moreover, the development of healthcare technologies like virtual health technology, prognostic analytics, along with digital consumer applications, is additionally anticipated to increase the growth in the healthcare industry post-pandemic.