Getting Virtual Care Right

Getting Virtual Care Right: Three Essentials to Transform Chronic Disease Management at Home

Healthcare is coming home in a big way, with care-at-home expected to be a $7 billion business by 2024.1 This is good news for the growing number of patients suffering from chronic disease (6 out of 10 adults in the United States2). 70% of today’s patients are interested in receiving virtual care services.3 And 91% say they are interested in using mobile tools to communicate with their providers.4

It’s also good news for providers, with management of chronic illness accounting for more than 90% of the nation’s $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare spending.5 Care at home can be instrumental in responding to growing chronic care needs and meeting new value-based mandates, while addressing physician shortages and cost pressures. Access to data from continuous monitoring can reveal patterns that help identify issues before a condition becomes severe. Both Medicare and private payers support virtual care. And providers can more than cover their costs by billing 2x to 5x the price of the service for remote monitoring and chronic care services.6

Digital Transformation Paves the Way
The evolution of digital technology has opened the door to more broadly defined and delivered remote patient care. Unlike existing telehealth solutions, new virtual care solutions are more than just substitutes for in-person doctor visits. Virtual care solutions include AI-enabled digital assistants, always-on availability of care plan education, and access to live care providers. New solutions also connect communities of care like family members, and reinforce development of healthier lifestyles. The best virtual care solutions transform chronic disease management by getting these three things right.

1. Continue an ongoing relationship with patients.
Remote monitoring provides a steady stream of data from in-home biometric devices like blood pressure cuffs and glucose monitors. This data, when integrated with patients’ EHRs, allows physicians to efficiently track progress between visits and intervene early with regimen adjustments. This proactive management helps reduce ED visits and readmissions.7,8 The data can also be pooled to glean wider insights for population health initiatives and the development of new care standards.

2. Provide education to create healthier habits.
A personalized care plan with a habit-formation program helps patients make lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption. These kinds of changes have been shown to reduce adverse health events and extend life for patients with chronic health conditions.9 This is especially important given research findings that 50% of patients don’t follow their prescribed treatment plan.10 The most successful virtual care solutions separate new habits into small repeatable steps, and an ongoing virtual connection enables continuous reinforcement. For example, a recent large health system deployment with 120 patients over 8 months had significant positive results, including: readmission reduced 18%; average blood sugar reduced from 227 to 140 in 4 weeks; daily patient engagement 82%; staff to patient ratio expanded access from 1:25 to 1:40.

3. Make engagement simple – for patients and families.
With “consumerism” now a healthcare reality, engagement and satisfaction are key factors patients consider in choosing and staying with providers. Engaged patients have a better experience, are more likely to adhere to their care plan, and less likely to be readmitted to the hospital.11 Patients also benefit when family members play an active role in chronic care management. Loved ones can help reduce patient anxiety and keep the care team informed.

Virtual care solutions make knowing what to do, and how to do it, easy for patients. A customized interface with everything in one place — medications, daily health tasks, appointment reminders - keeps patients on track and engaged in their care. Solutions with AI-enabled digital assistants learn how to engage with each patient, helping them take and transmit vitals and remember care plan instructions. Staying on course to a healthier lifestyle takes daily interaction, education, and encouragement. New virtual care solutions make patient engagement easy (and maybe even fun).

All signs point to the virtual care trend continuing and growing. Emerging solutions will take us into a future where remote monitoring and care are a seamless part of patient lifestyles and provider workflows. Lenovo is pioneering a virtual care model12 that enables this key component of digital transformation for healthcare.

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Smarter takes healthcare virtual.