Have you been wondering about Virtual Care? Not sure what it means?
Virtual Care is the description for care delivered when the provider and the patient are not in the same physical place … or even connecting at the same time.
Does that seem impossible? Well, consider that instead of “going to the doctor,” a person might:
- Have an e-consultation with the doctor using the video camera on their laptop or smartphone
- Take their blood pressure every morning with a device that sends the readings to a dashboard that is monitored by the doctor’s team
- Use a software program to get a medical recommendation based on their diagnoses, biometric readings and symptoms … then push a button to connect with the doctor via video
- Receive a virtual medical exam from a remotely located physician using instruments brought to the residence by a nurse with a telemedicine kit
What does Virtual Care Look Like?
The woman in blue in the photo at the top of this page is receiving a virtual exam from her doctor, who is sitting in the office miles away. A nurse, holding the stethoscope, has carried the telemedicine kit into the home and connected it through the internet to the physician. She is “telepresenting” the patient to the physician. The physician is directing her in the placement of the digital stethoscope, so he can hear heart and lung sounds. There is also a high definition camera for looking at wounds and her eyes, ears and throat. The telemedicine kit can carry many different types of connected instruments to enable the physician to conduct the examination.
For many years, technology like this has been used to solve problems of distance and speed. For instance, rural clinics use telemedicine to deliver access to specialists, and hospitals and Emergency Rooms use it for real-time consultations with experts in urgent situations. Now, this type of virtual care is available for urgent and even routine health matters in the home.
Warm and Friendly Care
It surprises some people to discover that virtual care can be as warm, intimate and friendly as an in-person visit. In fact, doctors tell us they have more eye contact with their patient on video than they do when they are in the same exam room!