Healthcare organizations are finding new uses for virtual healthcare technology

The virtual health revolution has been prevalent in recent years, especially fueled by generation-changing events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, more than ever, healthcare leaders, organizations and policy makers are seeing the value of virtual health, both in terms of patient convenience and experience, as well as the cost savings that virtual health can potentially provide globally. systemic.

Some organizations have approached even more so with virtual health, using technology to go beyond simple patient care meetings. Take Penn Medicine’s Care Connect program (based at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine) for example. In a paper published earlier this month in the New England Journal of Medicine, the team writes about “CareConnect: Adapting a virtual urgent care model to deliver buprenorphine transitional care.” The program leverages Penn’s virtual urgent care services and substance use professionals to deliver patient care. As described by the organization, “Trained urgent care physicians provide virtual assessment and treatment with buprenorphine – a drug that treats opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms – with patients receiving support from substance use navigators throughout their process.” of care”.

The researchers leading this initiative consider this program to be relatively effective: “The study showed that 89 percent of patients in the program filled their first buprenorphine prescription and 55 percent continued to have an ‘active prescription’ for the drug 30 days after they were first taken, indicating they were still actively on treatment.

Dr. Margaret Lowenstein, MD, assistant professor of medicine, lead author of the study and director of research at the Penn Center for Addiction Medicine and Policy (CAMP), comments: “The numbers are encouraging and probably could even be an understatement when you look at it’s about those in active treatment, since it doesn’t catch people on other modalities of treatment, such as methadone, or those who have entered inpatient rehab.”

In an increasingly shaky healthcare landscape with ever-rising rates of substance use, programs like these showcase innovative ways existing technology can be used to solve complex problems.

Another innovative way that virtual health technology is being used is exemplified by the South Dakota State Department of Health (DOH). The state agency is partnering with a telehealth company to enable its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to provide virtual emergency care on demand.

The press release explains, “The South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) is pleased to announce the launch of a new telehealth partnership between DOH, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) agencies and Sioux-based telehealth provider Falls, Avel and Care. This initiative will use telehealth to transform the delivery of patient care across the state.” As explained by DOH Cabinet Secretary Joan Adam, “Telemedicine in Motion will connect EMS agencies across South Dakota to aboard physicians certified emergency and telehealth registered nurses from Avel eCare… Many of our EMS agencies face long distance travel when our residents need care the most. Through Telemedicine in Motion, Avel will provide virtual triage and counseling services to EMS professionals through two-way audio and video in the rear of the ambulance. This initiative will improve coordination of care between our EMS providers and hospitals.”

In fact, this is another example of a new, tangible impact being driven by the use of existing technology. The virtual health infrastructure will enable EMS faculty to better deliver services to field patients who need them most, which will hopefully lead to better clinical and community outcomes.

Overall, virtual health technology still has a long way to go, when it comes to security, data fidelity, and patient safety. However, the above applications are just two examples of the many unique use cases of virtual healthcare services that can deliver significant value to patients.

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