What are the benefits of virtual primary care?
With advances in technology, there are now more opportunities than ever to provide care virtually. Virtual primary care (VPC) has the potential to improve access to care, increase convenience and affordability, and allow patients to receive care from the comfort of their own homes. VPC also has the potential to improve care coordination, close care gaps, and help reduce the overall healthcare spend of a health plan.
What conditions can be treated with virtual care?
Virtual care can be used in around 80% of provider visits. Virtual care can be used to treat and manage a variety of conditions, including chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. Virtual care can also be used to address “hands on” needs, such as when a patient needs an order to be seen for a routine blood draw or home nursing visit. While traditional clinic visits are important, managing conditions in between physical visits is equally important. Virtual Primary Care enables providers to perform ongoing management of chronic conditions and be able to provide real time interventions, keeping patients out of the hospital, and preventing conditions from progressing further.
How does virtual care improve care?
Virtual Primary Care can help to increase access to care for patients who may have difficulty getting to a doctor’s office. It also helps to improve care coordination by allowing doctors and specialists to share information and collaborate more easily enabling closure of care gaps by allowing doctors to monitor patients more closely and identify potential problems early.
What are the economics of virtual primary care?
Virtual primary care has the potential to save employers money on healthcare costs. Even with 100% of members utilizing the program, the total cost of care would only be 6% of the total healthcare spending. This is because VPC can help to direct and manage care for the 94% of patients who do not use VPC. Additionally, the variation in care cost and quality is huge, and VPC can help to refer patients to the most appropriate level of care. For example, VPC can help to address a condition before it becomes more significant (e.g. hypertension becomes CKD becomes ESRD), which can save money on hospitalizations and other costly interventions. By addressing conditions before they become catastrophic health related events, VPC has the ability to provide a significant Return on Investment (ROI) for employer groups sponsoring the program.
How does virtual care fit into the overall healthcare landscape?
Virtual care is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to providing comprehensive and coordinated care. VPC should be used as one tool in the toolbox, complementing other care delivery models. For example, VPC can be used as a supplement to provide after-hours care or to fill gaps in care when a patient’s regular doctor is not available.
Virtual primary care has the potential to improve access to care, increase convenience and affordability, and allow patients to receive care from the comfort of their own homes. VPC also has the potential to improve care coordination and close care gaps. The economics of VPC are favorable, with the potential to save money on healthcare costs even with 100% utlilization. Finally, the variation in care cost and quality is huge, and VPC can help to refer patients to the most appropriate level of care.