Virtual Care: Funding, a new digital place, effects on society, patient trust and more.

Written by: InfoMedix

Last week InfoMedix hosted it’s first IMX Talks online discussion titled ‘Care at a Distance.’ Each panellist did a stellar...

Last week InfoMedix hosted it’s first IMX Talks online discussion titled ‘Care at a Distance.’ Each panellist did a stellar job contributing their unique perspective, experience, and knowledge to a conversation that looked at what is needed to drive this model of care.

Ian Oppermann explained how we could unlock data to improve healthcare outcomes and gave some excellent examples of successful virtual care implementation keys. Dr. Steve Hambleton and Dr. Erwin Loh showed us how clinicians are already putting Virtual Care in action without adding burden to their workload. Sue Hanson provided some jaw-dropping statistics from research on the impact of virtual care on positive patient outcomes.

During the discussion, Dr. Tim Smyth MC kept up the pace and interest, to ensure the debate gave the attendees what they were expecting.

I have summarised the vital points raised during the discussion here. Our next IMX Talks discussion will feature guest speaker Dr. Erkan Hassan, Pharm.D., FCCM. Erkan who has over 20 years of experience identifying and solving clinical challenges with critical stakeholders from innovative technology companies and integrated health delivery systems scheduled for October 7th, please register your interest here. This discussion will focus on how global health service providers are well into their virtual care journey and what it took to get there.

Consistent Message

A consistent message was that there is a risk that Telehealth is delivering healthcare over the telephone. We need an Australian definition for virtual care, which is more than the increased uptake of clinical to patient telephone calls, video chats, and e-prescriptions. An Australian description that encompasses all technologies, from remote monitoring to MDT app deployment, to big data to drive essential healthcare delivery. 

Examples of Virtual Care in Action

There were some excellent examples of virtual care in action right now delivered by Professor Erwin Loh and Dr. Steve Hambleton. However, they also expressed several barriers that must be addressed, such as the availability of technology to society, network infrastructure issues, regulatory and privacy legislation, and security.

Technology to Provide Team-Based Care for Patients

In terms of leveraging technology to improve team-based care for patients (MDT), the future is bright. Dr. Loh referenced healthcare and subspecialties’ complexity, such as aged care, where an elderly person could be seeing over 100 clinicians in one episode of care. He referenced innovative technologies that exist that share information, collaboration and reduce duplication, errors, and improve real-time communication for MDTs and patients.

Big Data Driving Virtual Care

There is light at the end of the data tunnel in terms of big data driving virtual care. Ian Oppermann provided us with insights into how his team supported the NSW government with Covid-19 reporting, such as connecting data sets to different government parts. He mentioned they worked together and experienced some beautiful moments of singularity focus. All stakeholders were willing to use data sets that are not used regularly, into something useful.  

A New Digital Place

Dr. Steve Hambleton highlighted that Covid-19 had stimulated clinicians and patients into a new digital place. He mentioned that he generates digital records as a consequence of his actions as he delivers care digitally. He can write a clinician referral and transfer it by a secure message, creating another digital information piece. The most crucial point here is that by using digital technology, clinicians can make patient metadata due to the clinician’s activity without extra workload.

Maintain Community Trust

Dr. Tim Smyth posed the question to Ian Oppermann around maintaining the community’s trust in terms of keeping their data safe and their privacy intact. Ian again used the example of data sets used in reporting Covid-19 cases and testing, that data released is done so in a careful and sensitive way.

Regulatory Framework Catching Up

Dr. Erwin Loh mentioned that the regulatory framework is catching up; indeed, there are more innovative digital systems such as AI-based platforms in health settings. Currently, this type of application is ad hoc within a care setting.

The Effects on Society

Professor Erwin Loh described virtual health as merely translating what we are doing in the real world in a digital world and that it is about creating a digital health ecosystem that transforms not just our health but the way we live and grow as a society in terms of well-being.

Overseas Success

The panel referenced examples of virtual care in other countries, Dr. Loh highlighted outstanding examples of AI systems in countries such as South Korea where they used technology as part of their everyday lives and built hospitals around this.

Virtual Care Funding

Dr. Steve Hambleton highlighted that the healthcare funding model conflicts with the model of care. Funding is needed to underpin what we know, to connect data sets; he used the example of one benefit to predict who is at risk of going to hospital. There needs to be a shift to allow virtual care solutions to be delivered, without putting funding in the way of it.

As mentioned, I am proud of this online discussion’s outcomes, but it doesn’t stop here. I am leading a series of these discussions, if you would like to be considered to feature on the panel, please reach out to me. 

Join the next IMX Talks in October, register your interest here

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