From GP appointments to consultations, virtual visits are distancing clinicians from patients. For now, it’s a necessity. But could virtual healthcare help save time (and lives) in the long term? And what will it take to make more of the potential benefits – without opening up new problems?
Time saves lives
Even before the pandemic, time-poor healthcare providers struggled with ageing populations and growing demand. Finding more efficient ways to deliver care isn’t just cost-effective – it could be the difference between overwhelmed and smooth-running services.
Enter virtual healthcare. COVID-19 has created a sharp jump in remote appointments. These appointments don’t just save patients over 100 minutes per visit on average in travel and waiting time. They also save time for clinicians. In fact, one U.S. hospital’s emergency department has found that virtual triage saved two staff members per patient.
Building a system for success
To turn a short-term fix into a long-term life saver, virtual services need to become more stable and secure. As providers make the switch, here are a few challenges to consider, and how to overcome them:
1. Keep care seamless
Long-distance duties will never do the full job in healthcare. Clinicians will go from virtual appointments to hands-on care in minutes. To make the most of the time savings offered by virtual services, those transitions need to be as smooth as possible.
Right now, clunky systems eat up time as staff log in or work around tricky user interfaces. These work-arounds can lead to security troubles too – for example, in 2018, 21% of healthcare employees said they write down their usernames and passwords by their computer.
What’s the solution?
Single sign-on can help solve these problems. One study found that it brought average log in time down from 29.3 to 8.9 seconds. Across six hospitals, this saved an unbelievable 168 hours of clinical time in every seven-day period.4 Using biometric, RFID or NFC technologies, you can achieve highly secure one-tap login for all of your organisational systems.
2. Cover every angle of attack
Virtual visits aren’t the only part of the healthcare industry that’s booming. So is the black market for patient data – and cybercrime was on the rise long before the pandemic. In fact, 41 million patient records were breached in the U.S. in 2019, triple the figure from the previous year. Not only that, but the cost of a data breach in healthcare is 60% higher than in any other industry.
So, you can’t afford new virtual systems that don’t keep data locked down. Otherwise, any efficiencies could be offset by costly attacks.
What’s the solution?
Protection has to get more intelligent – and more comprehensive. Now, behavioural AI can actively detect and fight threats at the device level. In systems like Lenovo’s SentinelOne, part of built-in ThinkShield protection, this can completely replace anti-virus. As a result, it keeps vulnerable end-point devices protected while medical clinicians deliver healthcare from anywhere.
3. Get down to the details
Now more than ever, hygiene is crucial in hospital settings. Virtual appointments can help reduce the use of PPE, saving time and reducing waste.
But as devices make their way from the home to clinical settings, they could also carry harmful germs. In fact, one study found pathogens on 100% of sampled mobile phones belonging to hospital doctors and staff.
What’s the solution?
When it comes to saving time, it’s the small things that count. Of course, you’ll need devices that are robust enough for deep cleaning. But features like the Lenovo Quick Clean software application can help make the process quicker. With it, clinicians can suspend user input at the touch of a button, meaning they don’t have to shut down the device every time they sanitise it.
Get time on your side
In your industry, productivity saves lives. With Lenovo, you can create a smarter approach to patient care, with everything from virtual rounding to remote radiology. Devices like the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Healthcare Edition help you streamline clinical workflows while meeting the specific demands of hospital life. You can discover the full range of Lenovo Healthcare Solutions here.
To find out how else you can get time on your side with the right approach to tech, take a look at our productivity-boosting solutions here.
 Calculated based on average total in-person visit time of 121 minutes, compared with average virtual appointment time of 10-15 minutes. Estimates from: https://go.forrester.com/blogs/will-virtual-care-stand-the-test-of-time-if-youre-asking-the-question-its-time-to-catch-up/.
 Accenture, Healthcare Workforce Survey on Cybersecurity, 2018: https://www.accenture.com/us-en/blogs/insight-driven-health/losing-the-cybersecurity-culture-war
 George A. Gellert et al., Clinical impact and value of workstation single sign-on, 2017: https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/tech/number-patient-records-breached-2019-almost-tripled-from-2018-as-healthcare-faces-new-threats
 Fierce Healthcare, Number of patient records breached nearly triples in 2019, 2020: https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/tech/number-patient-records-breached-2019-almost-tripled-from-2018-as-healthcare-faces-new-threats
 Data from a Ponemon Institure report, sponsored by IBM. Details reported here: https://healthitsecurity.com/news/data-breaches-cost-healthcare-6.5m-or-429-per-patient-record.
 Shekar Pal et al., Mobile phones: Resevoirs for the transmission of nosocomial pathogens, 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549928/.