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Virtual Care Is Transforming The Future Of Healthcare

Good healthcare is essential for quality of life. From wellness, fitness, and diet, to routine checkups, to emergent or chronic medical conditions, access to medical professionals and effective guidance and treatment is crucial. A new report from Omada Health and Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) highlights trends in technology that are transforming the way healthcare is delivered, and the value of virtual care for changing the way patients interact with doctors and improving care and outcomes.

Omada and DiMe surveyed nearly 800 employers, payers, and benefits consultants to gain insight into the current level of understanding of virtual care and its role. The results are summed up in “The State of Virtual Care.”

Virtual Care vs. Telemedicine

Before I go further into the report and the key findings, we need to clarify what virtual care is.

For starters, virtual care is not telemedicine. They are two different things.

Telemedicine replaces a visit to a doctor’s office, while virtual care delivers ongoing care and communication. According to the report, there has been a 38x increase in use of telemedicine during the Covid pandemic as many people did appointments over Zoom or other video platforms rather than traveling to the doctor’s office in person.

Whether that initial visit is in-person or conducted via telemedicine, virtual care is a broader scope of services delivered online or via apps to manage and maintain care. Virtual care provides education, coaching, engagement, and patient support to improve patient outcomes. It is also useful for delivering specialized care for various chronic conditions.

Megan Zweig, Chief Operating Officer at Rock Health explained in the Omada press release, “Telemedicine simply digitizes in-person care—conversely, impactful virtual care redesigns how care is delivered, putting the patient at the center and leveraging technology to enable proactive, continuous management. This transition is essential to make significant strides in patient care.”

The State of Virtual Care

The report identifies a number of interesting trends and key findings related to the current state of virtual care.

  • 90% of survey respondents see virtual care as a high priority
  • Majority believe virtual care is the principal means to improve patient care and outcomes
  • Nearly 50% believe it will become the primary model of care — but few have a clear understanding of the model
  • More than 95% who already offer virtual care are looking to expand but need a roadmap
  • Only 15% of respondents identify as having experience across all areas of virtual care

Virtual-First Care

Omada identifies individuals and organizations pushing the envelope as “virtual care visionaries.” These are the ones who see the full potential of virtual care and are driving prioritization of virtual care with a Virtual-First Car (V1C) model.

Omada is working with DiMe and others to define V1C and create standards for virtual care. V1C goes beyond standard virtual care offerings to ensure patients are empowered to be an active participants in their care plan. It provides a platform for patients to initiate care anytime and anywhere and leverages digital tools to help providers and patients collaborate to achieve the best outcomes.

“In the face of rising cases of chronic conditions, increasing healthcare costs and social determinants of health, a virtual care model succeeds by putting patients at the center, providing ongoing access, personalized care and engagement,” said Wei-Li Shao, President of Omada Health. “While our survey shows a strong belief in virtual care, it also shows that the industry is unclear on what's next. As an industry leader, Omada Health is committed to helping define virtual care’s potential and educating about the powerful impact it can have on a wide variety of health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and musculoskeletal conditions.”

This was the inaugural version of what is intended to be an annual survey. It will be interesting to see how awareness shifts over time regarding the difference between telemedicine and virtual care—both for providers and for patients—as well as how virtual care and the tools available evolve year-to-year. To learn more, check out The State of Virtual Care report for yourself.

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