Virtual Healthcare was touted as the next big revolutionary idea for provider systems in North America long before the pandemic changed how we accessed healthcare from the comfort of our homes. It is one of the major reasons why healthcare providers have started to gravitate towards implementing some of these solutions ever since COVID-19 hit the western shores. While there are a considerable number of virtual health solutions available in the market right now, some like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have already grabbed the lion’s share of the market segment.

While it may be some time before patients get acclimatised to these virtual health solutions to truly change how care is delivered, the current pandemic nonetheless has proved to be a slingshot for virtual care in the eHealth ecosystem. Here’s why we think Virtual Healthcare Solutions will play a vital role in dealing with pandemics like COVID-19 and thereby change how we access healthcare now and into the future. 

1. Accessibility

This one is a no- brainer. With solutions like Microsoft Teams, clinicians have access to patient data and history through a single touch on their smartphones. It’s one of the major reasons why Microsoft Teams reported a 775% increase in users in Italy is because of COVID-19. And it’s not just about easy access for to patient records, the clinicians and nurses can now also triage patients online through specific apps built on the Teams platform. To learn more about such solutions, click here.

2. Care Collaboration and Monitoring

Virtual Health Solutions now provide the capability for multiple physicians and specialists to collaborate and work on critical cases through the Teams platform. This not only saves time but also cuts a lot of administrative red tape to deliver faster, efficient and coordinated healthcare for the most vulnerable demographic during pandemics like COVID-19. The Microsoft Teams Patients App, for example, along with interfacing software like Corolar FHIR CDR can bring the EHR data into Teams using existing health data standards like HL7v2 and FHIR.

3. Privacy and Security

While some platforms like Zoom are facing the flak for security issues like Zoombombing – an event where individuals can crash online Zoom sessions, other more established solutions like Microsoft Teams being HIPAA and PHIPA compliant, provide secure messaging and video calling services. Most of the available features in these solutions are policy-based thus providing a greater control over who can send or receive messages and critical data, if needed, on a per-patient basis.

4. Frontline Worker Integration

With the current pandemic, hospital staff is often stretched for hours and that is why managing and monitoring frontline worker’s shifts can prove to a major hassle. Virtual health solutions integrated with platforms like Microsoft Teams provide easy to use apps to manage schedules and flow of shift swaps and cancellations daily. With these administrative applications, workers on the frontlines of our fight against COVID-19 can now easily set their shift preferences and update their schedules from the palm of their hands.

5. Automated Appointment booking and check-in

While it’s important to provide virtual health options to those affected by the pandemic and those who might be asymptomatic, it is equally important to provide the most urgent cases a feasible way to book early appointments and navigate test centers and reduce multiple points of contact during the screening process. Therefore, Virtual Healthcare solutions now provide the capability to automate appointments and check-in through virtual QR codes. These innovative solutions during a time of crisis can effectively ensure that we are addressing the most critical challenges on an urgent need basis. 

In short, virtual healthcare adoption is growing and will be the norm in the post-corona era.  In a future post, we will delve into how Dapasoft is co-developing a new Teams application that brings the concept of a virtual walk-in for infectious and chronic diseases into to Teams.