Virtual healthcare strategy is now essential, survey finds
Having a long term virtual healthcare strategy is essential, according to a new survey by healthcare communications platform Updox.
The new report highlights the shifting perceptions and uses of virtual care during the pandemic, and the challenges healthcare providers are addressing in 2021.
Over 1,000 US healthcare providers across a variety of specialty practice areas took part in the survey, many of whom were already beginning to adopt digital technologies to modernise their communications.
When COVID-19 arrived this demand skyrocketed - nearly half of healthcare providers implemented new digital solutions to improve patient engagement and increase workflow efficiency. Now more than 65 per cent of practices state that their practice has a virtual care option in place for at least one solution, and 48 per cent have implemented one or more virtual care solutions to engage with more patients and run a more profitable practice while the pandemic is ongoing.
The survey also reveals that most practices believe having a virtual healthcare strategy is important, but there are barriers to adoption and implementation. While 75 per cent of providers said it's important or very important to have a virtual care strategy moving forward, only 28 per cent have actually implemented one.
Additionally, 57 per cent have yet to discuss implementing a virtual care strategy at all. Other key findings include:
- Throughout the pandemic the biggest challenges have been costs associated with initial purchase/implementation (30 per cent), strain on physicians and other staff (25 per cent) and insurance reimbursement (20 per cent)
- Looking ahead, practices anticipate their biggest challenges will be costs associated with initial purchase/implementation (32 per cent), insurance reimbursement (30 per cent), strain on physicians and other staff (15 per cent)
Michael Morgan, President of Updox, commented on the report's findings: “Virtual care is more than telehealth, and implementing a virtual care strategy that sets practices up for long-term success involves more than adopting individual solutions.
"Developing an effective virtual care strategy includes creating a forward-looking plan of where your practice is headed, and leveraging a platform that will allow you to connect all your solutions together to seamlessly care for patients both in and outside the physical walls of the business.
“Building a virtual care strategy is not a race but should be viewed as a roadmap, where providers identify their needs, set tangible goals for the practice and build on that strategy piece by piece," he added.
"Building a virtual care strategy can start with just one solution that works within the practice’s workflow. Then, layering other digital solutions that seamlessly work together typically results in higher patient engagement and satisfaction, better patient response rates, a reduction in appointment no-shows, and ultimately greater long-term practice success and profitability.”
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.