Thought Leadership

Operationalizing Virtual Care

If 2020 was the year virtual care took center stage, then 2022 was the year virtual care returned to center stage… but with better lighting, a better script, and a couple years of NYU acting classes. 

To keep the theater analogy going, virtual care didn’t have much of a rehearsal warmup in 2020. It went from a healthcare afterthought to an overnight star of COVID-restricted care. Unfortunately, the delivery was often clunky, confusing, and a step down from in-person visits. 

However, many organizations continued to fine-tune their programs, make adjustments, and further operationalize virtual care. Their result is not a two-tier philosophy of “in-person care” and “virtual care,” with the virtual version lagging behind, but instead, one overarching model of “care” delivered in two ways that complement each other. 

What does this look like in practice? We reached out to four healthcare leaders to hear their thoughts on what makes for a stronger virtual care performance in 2023. 

Kathi Cox (Chief Operating Officer at Texas Health Resources) 

“When we started this journey, everyone was going about it the same way, trying to cram an in-person experience into a virtual one, and they are not the same. What we found, though, as providers started gaining experience, and we helped them with managing schedules, then when virtual wasn’t a mandate anymore, their visits increased 15% YoY in a virtual way. Once they started getting the hang of it and didn’t feel like they were adding it on top of everything else, we started to see some real growth in that regard.” 

Eric Thrailkill (Venture Partner, Founder of the Telehealth Academy, and Chairman of Project Healthcare at the Nashville Entrepreneur Center)

“Telehealth platforms should contain a virtual triage where location and assignment of a provider could occur. This would also enable an appropriate assessment to ensure higher acuity visits are prioritized over lower acuity visits. This will challenge the organization to think about the role of medical assistants, nurses, and specialty consult providers — not as follow-on activity, but incorporated into the visit. This will ultimately lead to operational efficiencies and reduce the amount of administrative burden existing in early deployments of telehealth.”

Dr. Kim Coleman (Chief Medical Officer at United Physicians) 

“The more the platform can replicate an in-person visit – having the same components, having the same flow and feel – I think that’s a really big part of making this accepted by patients and providers. Talking to someone (over video) without any wraparound context is very weird. But when doing virtual visits where I’m notified someone’s in the waiting room, I start the visit, conclude the visit, link to charting, prescribing, all of those things that are the normal workflow, I think that is extraordinarily valuable. If whatever solution you’re using doesn’t do that, I think that’s something to take into consideration.” 

Dr. Renny Abraham (Physician at Clarkston Medical Group)

“If you’re there for patients and they know you from the office, you know what their needs are. Telehealth is an extension of your patient/physician relationship, not to create a new one. When you start creating relationships via telehealth without actually seeing them in the office, that’s when you get into trouble. You can miss major things, and that’s not fair to the patient. Eighty percent of what we diagnose is in the history, and 20 percent is physical exam and diagnostics. So, if we have patients come in and we see them, physically examine them, look at the diagnostics, get the complete picture and then use telehealth as an extension of that, that makes sense. If there’s no initial in-person consultation, you might be wrong 1 out of 5 times.” 

eVisit is simplifying virtual and hybrid care delivery for health systems and hospitals. Learn more about the company’s virtual care platform by visiting the eVisit Team at ATA2023, Booth #406.

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