3 Big Lessons for the Future of Virtual Healthcare

Ron Emerson Global Healthcare Lead, Zoom

For many industries, including healthcare, 2020 marked a dramatic shift in how we work, deliver services, and address customers’ needs. From overnight adoption of telehealth at the pandemic’s onset, to new use cases in patient education, training, and population health management, medical professionals are embracing video communications to reimagine healthcare with patients at the center.

Even though we’re now beginning to see an end to the pandemic on the horizon, the transformation in healthcare is far from over.

We at Zoom engaged and collaborated with Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to examine how this explosion in virtual care has impacted and will continue to affect the medical industry for the next decade.

Read on for lessons learned during the pandemic and download the white paper for an in-depth look at the vast potential for virtual care going forward.

Lesson 1: Consumers will drive demand for virtual care

The pandemic may have been a catalyst for the widespread adoption of virtual care, but by no means is telehealth going away when COVID-19 is brought under control.

Forrester predicts that nearly 500 million virtual visits will take place in the U.S. this year, and that’s taking into account planned vaccine distribution in 2021. Analysts believe mental and behavioral health services will account for a third of those visits, which indicates enormous potential for technology to address mental health needs.

On the frontlines of patient care, providers that offer video-enabled options, like virtual urgent care and virtual doctor’s visits, find that many patients prefer telehealth as a time-saving alternative to in-person appointments. “I think our patients will very much be unhappy if all of this type of care goes away now,” said Lee Schwamm, MD, who serves as executive vice chair of neurology, director of Center for Telehealth, and vice president of virtual care and digital health at Mass General Brigham in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lesson 2: Health organizations are looking beyond telehealth to broad-spectrum applications

Going beyond virtual doctor’s visits, the next step for health organizations will be to integrate video across the spectrum of care delivery and administration. Doing so could help improve and streamline workflows, increase efficiency, and promote knowledge sharing.

Here are a few of the applications for video in healthcare delivery:

  • E-consults between physicians
  • Education and training with world-class medical experts
  • Care coordination
  • Crisis planning and response
  • Population health management

Along with care delivery, incorporating video communications in billing and reimbursements, vendor meetings, employee relations, and other essential administrative functions helps support the business of healthcare, enabling practices to stay nimble and competitive.

Lesson 3: Video is critical in the shift to value-based care

Value-based care emphasizes quality of care with the goal of improving patient outcomes. As we move toward a value-based care model, video opens opportunities for more touchpoints between patients and their entire care team.

Not only do virtual visits help maximize efficiency and effectiveness, video also provides a sense of human connection with each touchpoint. Providers can build relationships with their patients, read their facial expressions, meet their support system, and see their home environment, all while treating the patient in a setting that’s familiar and comfortable.

When physicians, nurses, dietitians, social workers, physical therapists, care managers, and others have the ability to reach patients over video, patients have greater access to care where and when they need it. Discharge planning, care coordination, education, nutrition, wellness, and prevention efforts can be personalized and made even more effective, which can lead to a higher quality of care, greater patient engagement, and better health overall.

Download the white paper, A Virtual Revolution: How the COVID-19 pandemic will transform care delivery, for more insights from Zoom’s healthcare team and other industry leaders.