Making virtual hospitals the norm

When in sydney RPA Virtual Hospital (Rpavirtual) first opened in February last year, but few could imagine the success story unfolding.

The country’s first metropolitan virtual hospital, which has treated more than 13,000 patients to date, has won the Digital Innovation Excellence Award and proved to be crucial to the state’s COVID-19 response over the next year. Has an ambitious growth plan.

“When we first planned the model, there was some irony about what virtual care could offer, but it was before the pandemic,” said General Manager Miranda Shaw.

“Since then, the trust among medical professionals has grown significantly, and now we have them approach us for opportunities to further extend the model. In fact, we work with surgical services to provide clinical practice. We are starting a trial to evaluate how to virtually manage patients with acute diverticulitis in the community, “she added.

Patients are also pleased with the model in which vital signs are monitored in real time by ICU-grade devices and treated at home.

The TempTraq dashboard displays temperature results on the nurse’s screen.

A rpavirtual survey of more than 800 patients found that 88% felt that their medical needs were met when they were virtually prone. Eighty-five percent rated their care as “very good” or “good.” If you have the option, 98% will use the virtual service again.

Model extension

With these benefits now widely documented, virtual hospitals are expected to grow in popularity over the next few years. However, despite rpavirtual’s attention-grabbing success story, there may be a way to move before virtual models become mainstream.

Dr. Stephanie Allen, Deloitte’s Head of Healthcare, said that while there are examples of best practices like rpa for the wider deployment of virtual care, a variety of factors need to be considered. According to her, the first step is to create an end-to-end vision of the virtual patient’s journey and use technology as a platform to realize that vision.

“We want new innovations to facilitate conversations about virtual healthcare, but real conversations start with the health care vision we’re trying to achieve, and we need to find the technology to support it. There is, “says Dr. Allen.

“I’ve seen many organizations buy new technologies and stitch them together to create Frankenstein-like experiences for clinicians and patients, which often doesn’t make sense.

“But rpavirtual is doing that right. Start with the health care model you want to achieve and end up with a technology shopping list.”

One of RPA’s palliative care patients is receiving virtual care.

Quality check support technology

One of the health care models currently favored by rpavirtual is “health over illness”. This is a paradigm that focuses on prevention rather than cure of acute and chronic health conditions.

“We have launched a new program for healed vascular leg ulcers,” Shaw said.

“Our data showed that people who experienced these ulcers were at increased risk of readmission, so we encouraged them to wear and replace compression stockings and introduced a maintenance program to follow up with GPs and specialists.”

rpavirtual has a list of approved vendor candidates to help procure the technology used to provide such programs. This is the approach Dr. Allen said is important.

“The market is full of wellness technology. It’s important for both clinicians and patients to be able to identify high-quality products with a solid evidence base behind them,” she said.

“Use the Healthcare App. A quick search on Google Play reveals that there are tens of thousands of things available online, but many haven’t been properly tested, so whether you’re a patient or a clinician, I can’t tell if it’s clinically effective, “she said.

“If you want to make virtual care more mainstream, you need a better system, which allows the app to be” high quality kitemarked “by an independent evaluator to ensure that it is prescribed to the patient. .. “

Better funding model

A comprehensive financing model is another important impetus for expanding virtual care. In other words, like rpavirtual, it guarantees consistent hospital grade.

“During the COVID period, there was a rapid transition to virtual counseling or diagnostic services. At the same time, attention to prevention and early intervention increased and conversations about outcome-based care models became active again.” Said Dr. Allen.

“We now need to focus on developing virtual treatment options with the same quality standards and reimbursement as hospital-based care.

“If we can come up with a way to drive both of these models (result-based care using virtual delivery), that’s the best way to go.”

Magic pill?

Dr. Allen said virtual hospitals could be popular nationwide, and while clinics like rpavirtual are paving the way, their widespread deployment needs to be carefully considered. I concluded.

“As rpavirtual shows, there are many factors that influence the quality of care and patient communication in a virtual care environment. Coordinate these clinics and procure the technology to support them very carefully. That’s important, “she concludes.

Main image caption: RPA virtual care center nurse working in a care pod.

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