Hospitals and health systems across the country are rapidly adopting virtual care services to be more accessible, cheap, and responsive to patients, clinicians, and care teams. The difficulty is: How can you capture in-person visits and evidence-based medicine while adjusting to the different circumstances of virtual care? Four leaders of clinical transformation, innovation, and marketing from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School recently published a blueprint in the Harvard Business Review.
The so-called “DIBS” framework, documentation, integration, best practices, and support benefit all virtual care participants. The study offers insights from MDACC’s implementation of a bespoke virtual care service suite and other hospitals’ operational procedures and virtual care standards.
Developing a Personalized Framework for Your Virtual Care
Document your Implementation of New Strategies
Include all distinct health care personnel actions in a typical virtual care meeting. Based on the client’s reason for visiting, compare and contrast in-person and virtual care settings. This comparison may highlight process complications when moving from in-person to virtual care. Before, during, and after the visit, categorize treatment-related activities and help patients with unique visual, auditory, language, technological literacy, or technological infrastructure requirements utilizing the technical assistance procedure.
Combine all Program Components
Because of this, you’ll be able to keep the patient moving towards their goal. The goal is for everything about the process to be as seamless as possible. Consider how you might:
- Prepare patients and clinicians for the use of required technology.
- Instruct them on how to stand and look at the camera during talks and utilize appropriate lighting and audio equipment.
- Find a quiet location with few distractions.
- Streamline any ancillary logistics accompanying a virtual visit, including making further appointments, ordering prescription refills, and gathering personal health information from in-home devices.
- Prepare patients and caregivers for self-monitoring and self-care with instructional materials and ensure that all communication is culturally competent and understandable.
Follow Best Practices Precedents
To help you make the best judgments regarding the use of remote care, consider applying evidence-based decision criteria.
- Before virtual encounters, encourage clinicians to study the patient’s information and records.
- Before the appointment, get everyone on the care team to help gather records and prepare the virtual room. During the visit, have everyone stay connected and schedule any necessary appointments when it ends.
- To improve clinicians’ efficiency, outcomes, and patient experience scores, prioritize best practices that enable the adoption and sustainment of virtual care.
- To reap these advantages, formalize virtual care workflows as soon as feasible and adapt them as necessary to meet the needs of the service line.
Support for virtual visits must always be prompt, and the infrastructure should be dependable. You should invest in tech support ready to serve patients, clinicians, and clinical teams. There needs to be enough internal redundancy so potential device or connectivity issues can always be sorted out without any slowdowns.
Using artificial intelligence to help patients and clinicians find evidence-based guidance can reduce the digital divide between those who have access to care and those who don’t. Installing a telehealth center with private cubicles in low-income housing complexes, community centers, or other locations could also improve access to care for underserved populations.
Test and Iterate
Before adopting new methods or technologies, devote time and resources to testing various strategies for each stakeholder group. Begin with small-scale trials in selected clinics or service lines to manage risk. Changes are based on user feedback, technical feasibility, and cost considerations. Evaluate the impact of virtual care on accessibility, quality, cost, and patient/clinician satisfaction.
Mr. James is a visionary constantly creating solutions in virtual care through research and development, always looking to improve the patient experience. His team’s work has the potential to change how people interact with their healthcare providers, making it easier for patients to get the care they need. As more people adopt telehealth services, we can only expect that innovations such as those from Mr. James’ team will continue to surface, transforming virtual care into an even more valuable resource for both patients and providers alike.