COVID-19 taught us a lot of lessons. The most precious one was adapting to the gimmicks of online communication. Offices learned to run online, hold meetings, students learned to take classes and spend quality time with friends and family via the internet. But there was a significant development that was overlooked; we are slowly catching up to it now. Virtual care and consultation became an essential part of our digitally evolved lifestyle. People learned to visit their doctors virtually and consult them from a distance. The ‘in absentia’ care became the new norm. Delo reports that in the USA, one out of six doctor’s visits is now virtual.
How Virtual Care Works?
The technology is evolving rapidly, and so are the requirements for more efficient delivery of healthcare services. Online platforms like FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom are becoming the face of new healthcare regimes. There is no end to the convenience and benefits offered by online video consultations and care. It is a two-way channel that equally favors healthcare workers and receivers. How? Let’s take a look.
Benefits of Virtual Care For Patients
Convenience is one of the most fundamental benefits that patients enjoy. It reduces traveling time and the complications of leaving home for hours. You can choose a suitable time to see the doctor and meet them in the comfort of your home.
2. More Efficient Delivery of Primary Health Care
In India, we have just 40 doctors over every 100, 000 people in rural areas. It is way lesser than the required figure. Virtual care improves the ratio and inclines the scales towards more efficient delivery of primary health care. It provides access to more and more people who otherwise cannot afford visits to doctors. The video consultations are also a blessing for terminally ill patients in these areas who cannot move for economic and health reasons. Indian healthcare ministry is working on creating a system that connects more and more people to better healthcare. Virtual healthcare is to play a pivotal role in changing the scenario.
3. Controlling The Spread of Infections
Remote consultations have proved their worth in the wake of the recent pandemic. It is a powerful tool when authorities need to control the transmission of diseases on a massive level. It ensures the safety of masses as well as healthcare professionals.
4. Lowers Stress
Many people have a phobia of visiting hospitals, doctors, or availing of any kind of medical help. Online consultations reduce the stress of visiting doctors and getting the necessary support. It is also a boon for people seeking counseling from psychiatrists. Most of them want to camouflage their identity for obvious reasons. Video consultations are nothing short of a blessing in disguise for them.
How Healthcare Providers Benefit From Video Consultations?
Just like the patients, convenience is a significant benefit for health professionals. We all witnessed the horrors of COVID-19 that swallowed many healthcare providers. Though online consultation is not always an answer to healthcare requirements, it is still one of the major tools to ensure the safe delivery of primary health care without risking the doctor’s safety or the patient’s.
2. Improved Efficiency
Online consultations help reduce workload and stress for clinicians, nurses, and doctors. It creates a more flexible-provider schedule that allows the doctors to attend more patients in a given time frame. It also allows the clinicians to offer some extra care out of the bounds of their regular practices.
3. Better Consistency
Continuity is another benefit that doctors get from online consultations. They can form a deeper relationship and better continuity with their patients with virtual connections. Consistent communication with the doctors can, sometimes, speed up the recovery of patients.
4. Better Decision Making
Doctors using virtual care technology state that online communication plays a crucial role in decision-making. Sometimes, doctors need to make split-second decisions on strokes and heart attacks. Online consultation with specialists and experts can speed up the decision and make a big difference between life and death.
Are There Any Limitations?
The biggest challenge with online consultation is adaptation and training. Healthcare organizations need to buy costly equipment and train their staff to help patients online. Medical colleges already extend to years; additional training would need more time.
Virtual consultations may, sometimes, decrease the interaction with healthcare providers. Planning is mandatory in online communication; it helps determine the type of intervention needed for a specific case. Otherwise, it may become additional pressure on the organization.
There is a part of the healthcare world that believes that virtual consultations may result in overprescribing. Healthcare ministries are yet to set regulations and
Internal cultures within organizations may hamper the quick adoption of new technologies. Security is a major concern other than confidentiality. Online security isn’t something that everyone excels in; it will be a decisive parameter in deciding the quality of healthcare an organization provides.
Lastly, the online means of communication are still in their juvenile stage. People are slowly waking up to them. Allopathic care receivers are used to this aspect of treatment. But people who consult Ayurvedic doctors online, still insist on face to face meetings with their doctors. Ayurvedic organizations adapt to the present-day requirements, but patients are a little behind in adopting the new ways of visiting doctors.
The quality of service is another issue that needs to be addressed in this perspective. If we can manage to get over these problems (which we eventually will), virtual care would eliminate many hurdles that our country is currently facing in this field.