The level of care that a patient receives while admitted in the hospital is only available while in the hospital, right? Maybe not. Like most everything else in life today, a virtual option is gaining in popularity for some patients and it just may provide a glimpse into the future of the industry. Allow us to introduce you to virtual hospital wards.
What are virtual hospital wards?
Virtual hospital wards, or hospital-at-home, are a fairly new care model that provides patients with hospital-level care at home, in comfortable surroundings, safely. This helps to speed up recovery while making hospital beds available for the patients with the greatest need. Patients under the care of a virtual hospital ward receive the care of a multidisciplinary team capable of administering a variety of treatments and tests, just as if they were staying in the hospital. The clinical team reviews patients daily and may perform “rounds” via telehealth or with a home visit. Wearables, remote medical devices, and applications are all utilized as the clinical staff monitors patients.
The idea behind virtual hospital wards is to allow for greater independence, quicker discharge, and the ability to avoid the health risks associated with an extended hospital stay. Virtual hospital wards can also eliminate overcrowding in hospitals by allowing eligible patients to receive the care they need at home.
How are virtual hospital wards being used?
Virtual wards have been the focus of an NHS initiative in the UK in recent years, where the validity of this care modality has been proven. They are being used in a variety of ways, including to provide care for acute respiratory infections, helping those patients return home sooner, and to provide a higher level of care for elderly patients in their home.
More than 100,000 patients have received care in a virtual hospital ward over the last year in the UK. These patients were successfully able to receive hospital-level care while avoiding admission, leading to better outcomes.
Two Tech Solutions for Virtual Hospital Care
While there are a variety of technologies that can be useful in providing virtual hospital care, here are the two that we believe are most beneficial.
- Telehealth: Virtual care is extremely important for hospital-at-home services, particularly for the patient’s clinical care team to do daily check-ins. For best results, it’s important to choose a solution that goes beyond just virtual visit capabilities and allows for telediagnostics, which enable providers to do a full physical exam, virtually. The ability to be this thorough is particularly important when providing hospital-level care in order to see comparable outcomes to an actual in-person admission.
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM): RPM enables providers to remotely monitor their patient’s condition, particularly related to blood glucose levels, weight, and pulse oximetry, among other factors. Choose a solution that collects patient data from user-friendly devices, aggregates and analyzes that data, and serves up notifications when anomalies are detected for the most streamlined experience.
Virtual hospital wards are likely to gain in popularity in the coming years as the benefits become increasingly apparent from trials like those that have been happening in the UK. For providers who are interested in this care modality and its potential, a good place to begin is to make sure you have the appropriate technologies in place. This is why at Henry Schein SolutionsHub, we are dedicated to finding best-in-class solutions for all of your current and potential tech needs. We are proud to offer medpod and rimidi for telehealth and remote patient monitoring, two incredible solutions that are essential not only for the needs of providing virtual hospital care, but also the type of virtual care you’re used to providing.