Is the future of virtual care a hybrid model?

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In 2020, telemedicine adoption skyrocketed, in part, because people had to stay at home. Two years later, most of those restrictions were lifted, and the world went back to (a new) normal. However, during that time, something changed. Many who utilized virtual care in some capacity realized they liked it and appreciated the convenience of receiving quality treatment while not having to deal with traffic or sit in a waiting room for hours. Doctors liked it, too, as it enabled them to see more patients and reach those that otherwise had barriers to care.

But people also value seeing a provider in person, and (let's face it) while many elements of an exam are suited for telemedicine, not all evaluations can be completed virtually. Both have pros and cons. That is why many practices are embracing a hybrid care model.


What is a hybrid care model?

A hybrid telemedicine service model brings the patient and physician together virtually, usually in a clinic or hospital setting, with the assistance of an in-office provider. The online physician can ask questions while the face-to-face provider performs tests and evaluations that need to be done in person. 

For example, the telemedicine practitioner can assess the patient's behavior, facial expressions, anxiety level, and other signals of illness. They can ask questions, review medical history, and determine which tests need to be conducted. The in-office provider can physically examine specific parts of the patient's body, gather samples, and report findings to the online doctor. 


How do patients benefit from hybrid telemedicine care?

As mentioned earlier, utilizing telemedicine saves patients time and money. A hybrid model can still deliver those benefits as specialists can be brought into a local health system, providing access to specialized care that otherwise would be challenging to attain. For those with chronic conditions or who are immunocompromised, fusing digital and physical experiences means less exposure and provides continuity of care, resulting in better outcomes. 


How do providers benefit from a hybrid telemedicine model?

When it comes to patient care, utilizing a hybrid model allows the doctor to attain a total picture of overall health because a patient has access to virtual specialists on-site. Studies also show that patients are more likely to keep their appointment if it is convenient, and providing a more complete healthcare experience, where they can see multiple doctors in one location, ultimately results in more promising patient compliance.

But, provider and healthcare groups also see several benefits to this fusion throughout back office operations, including managing scheduling and capacity issues, freeing up in-house resources, and lessening provider stress and burnout. 


What do practices need for a successful hybrid care model?

In order for a hybrid telemedicine program to be successful, there are several initiatives that need to be considered:

  • Understand the facility's and the community's unique needs
  • Ensure that the program seamlessly integrates into existing workflows and technology
  • Communicate with patients about telemedicine scheduling and appointments 

Most importantly, providers must choose the right telemedicine partner that combines technical, clinical, and staffing expertise to deliver impactful solutions. 


Hybrid is the future of telemedicine

The medical community is in a fortunate position where delivering care doesn't have to be only virtual or only in-person anymore. A hybrid model enables providers to allocate care more flexibly and brings together the best treatment options. If your practice is looking to adopt a hybrid telemedicine program, VirtualMed Staff is ready to work with you every step of the way. Contact us today to get started.


If you'd like a custom telemedicine solution for your hospital, get started with a consultation today!

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