As healthcare costs continue to grow and consumer expectations rise, health systems will need to change the way they deliver care. Virtual health — the use of new and emerging digital and communications technologies to provide care and education to patients remotely — has the potential to transform the healthcare industry. Although the concept of virtual medicine has existed for decades, the U.S. healthcare industry has failed to make a large-scale transition to virtual health thus far. The challenges have been substantial, including physicians’ traditional reliance on physical examinations, current care delivery operations, technical barriers, and the lack of consistent reimbursement models from government and commercial payors.
However, as markets shift toward risk-based reimbursement models and drive increased retail behavior by consumers, health systems will need to embrace virtual health. Successful virtual health strategies will help them achieve four important business objectives: better outcomes, improved access and patient experience, reduced costs, and revenue growth. They can also improve retention among both patients and clinicians.
Adopting virtual health is not easy. Health systems will have to make significant investments in technology and overhaul their fundamental operating models. Our research and experience with clients has identified a three-step transformational approach: establishing clear strategic alignment, identifying virtual service offerings, and developing core capabilities with a robust execution road map.