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Gina Cella, American Telemedicine Association
Posted On February 21, 2023
Virtual care and value-based - A match made in heaven
By Dedi Gilad – CEO, Co- Founder, TytoCare
Virtual healthcare can help improve access to care, health equity, and quality of care. Sound familiar? It should – these are also the key components of healthcare that value-based care looks to improve. This is why virtual care can have such a big impact on value-based care programs. Let’s see how virtual care can impact these components to truly understand how it ties in with value-based.
Virtual care increases access to care
The struggle to access healthcare is universal. When people are sick, heading out to see a doctor adds additional stress and hassle to their lives, especially when the patient is a child, a senior citizen, or someone with health issues that make travel difficult. In many communities, healthcare access is geographically challenging – rural areas and healthcare deserts, which are increasing even in urban locations.
Virtual care allows people to access quality healthcare conveniently from home. It eliminates travel time and minimizes the need to take time off of work. Virtual care also keeps people out of overcrowded waiting rooms where they risk exposure to more germs, which is crucial for patients with comorbidities or those at high risk.
Increasing care access isn’t just about primary care. With better access to care, patients are more likely to engage in their health, seeing specialists and having annual wellness checks. While many people skip annual checkups and only see the doctor when they’re not feeling well, wellness visits allow for important health screenings and preventive care. They also nurture the relationship between patients and providers. Virtual care helps ensure that the challenge of access doesn’t prevent people from having regular checkups.
Virtual care closes care gaps
Virtual care alleviates gaps in healthcare equity. In the US, four in ten adults have delayed or gone without medical care in the past year due to cost, with a disproportionate impact on minorities, women, and low-income individuals. Virtual health wraps services around members by providing healthcare where people already are – in their home and in places they already visit regularly – community centers, local pharmacies, and supermarkets.
Social determinants of health (SDoH) exacerbate healthcare gaps. Virtual care bridges barriers to care, including affordability, geographic distance, disparities in SDoH, and limited provider availability. For people living in rural areas, virtual care models often use a central hub that provides care locally, and in specialties they would otherwise have trouble accessing.
There is valid concern that the shift to virtual healthcare will leave vulnerable populations behind due to issues such as a lack of internet connectivity. Virtual care done right must therefore be affordable and accessible to all populations, lest it widen gaps of care instead of alleviating them. Government funding for virtual care is on the rise, with federal funding programs in place to alleviate issues such as broadband connectivity access.
Virtual care improves quality of care
As technology advances, innovative, accurate virtual healthcare levels the playing field. When people utilize the emergency room or urgent care center, they receive fragmented care that is disconnected from their health records, furthering healthcare gaps and inequities.
Virtual care that aligns closely with patients’ electronic health records ensures better care continuity. Remote physical exams with accurate diagnostic tools improves the quality of care patients receive. Virtual care improves preventive care and longitudinal care plans for all populations. It enables efficient follow-up care that prevents the escalation of patients’ health conditions and keeps hospital-discharged members from being readmitted. By increasing access, closing care gaps, and improving quality of care, virtual care improves both short and long-term healthcare outcomes.
Virtual care aligns with value-based care
Virtual care, through the advantages described above, better enables health plans and providers to meet the goals of value-based care. By aligning care goals with business goals, virtual care incentivizes providing better care, benefitting all industry stakeholders.
Rather than just waiting until people get really sick, virtual care allows providers to offer more holistic care. It rewards preventive care and regular checkups. Virtual care reduces unnecessary ED visits and unutilized appointments, thus reducing total cost of care. It also improves providers’ work-life balance, with the potential to alleviate staff shortages and ease provider strain. The goals of value-based care and virtual care are synonymous, and the two should be used to enhance one another.
As virtual care becomes increasingly innovative and capable of addressing the continuum of healthcare needs, we can be hopeful about virtual care’s impact on the future of healthcare access, equity, and outcomes.
About the Author
With over 18 years of leadership positions both in startups as well as global companies, Dedi brings extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in R&D, Marketing and Operations of multi-disciplinary products in the fields of Healthcare IT, Enterprise Systems, Internet and SaaS. Before founding TytoCare, Dedi was the General Manager at MDG Medical, VP R&D at WorkplaceIQ (acquired by Siterra/Accruent), and VP R&D at Aman Group. Dedi earned an MBA and a B.Sc. in Industrial Engineering from the Tel Aviv University.