Virtual health is not a new concept. However, what was once science fiction is now here due to advanced techniques and technologies.  On-demand delivery channels are expected to have strong growth rates over the next few years as more and more patients turn to virtual healthcare – so traditional health systems need to act fast to deliver it.

 

Projected Growth Rate of On-Demand Channels

virtual-health-growth-rate

 

(CAGR = Compound Annual Growth Rate)

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review

 

How can healthcare providers shift patients to virtual health?

 

  • Educate the patient – The current market of consumers using virtual health includes innovators and early adopters of technology. Healthcare providers need the early majority to begin using virtual healthcare in order to get the rest of the population to follow suit.  Awareness is key for this audience.  Patients need to know that the services will benefit them – reduced cost and greater convenience to name a few.  Education also helps patients overcome their reluctance to use virtual health.  These concerns may include the security of medical records, a personal relationship with their provider, connection issues rendering the service unavailable or issues with insurance.  Once these concerns are addressed, patients should be comfortable accessing virtual healthcare.
  • Communicate with your employees and providers – For healthcare providers offering virtual healthcare, make sure the staff, especially those in high-touch positions, know and inform patients about their virtual health options. Those who know their patients best can relate to them and will be able to directly explain the benefits.  Patients will be more comfortable transitioning to this new technology.
  • Seamless user experience: Stanford University recognized that patients would not embrace virtual health unless there was a seamless user experience.  They kept testing and testing their interface until the end users were satisfied. They realized that they needed to meet patient expectations.
  • Target a specific patient population – Those most inclined to embrace and adopt virtual healthcare will most likely be a younger and healthier population. Stanford University, to attract these consumers, offered expanded clinic hours, virtual visit functionality that is accessible from a smartphone or computer, wellness coaching from nutritionists and trainers in its clinic services.  And to improve patient convenience, Stanford partnered with a pharmacy vendor offering free same-day medication home delivery.

 

Why healthcare providers integrate some form of virtual care in their delivery platform

 

  • Decreased costs – It costs much less to operate a single virtual health clinic than multiple practices in multiple locations. Stanford University found that the costs of its virtual clinic is 30% less than those of its comparable in-person clinics.  They believe the predominantly virtual model has enabled them to cut some overhead costs.
  • Increased revenues – The ease of using virtual health means an increased number of patients utilizing the healthcare services offered to them – at a time that is convenient for them. Healthcare systems that employ virtual health can appeal to new patient populations and create capabilities to increase their market relevance.
  • Improved patient outcomes – Hospitals are increasingly judged and graded on their health outcomes. Patients with chronic diseases like diabetes can be more closely monitored and on a more regular basis. A recent study shows that 95% of the time, patients who are treated by a health systems’ virtual health clinicians receive care that adheres to national best practice guidelines – thus resulting in higher quality care with fewer medical errors.
  • Increased patient satisfaction – Virtual care is meeting the needs of the market: quick, easy and convenient access to primary care. For Zipnosis, one of the leaders in virtual healthcare, they have experienced a 95% satisfaction rating – and 91% of patients surveyed recommended Zipnosis to three or more friends. In this age of social media, this word-of-mouth advertising is worth millions of dollars.