Traditionally, health care has required patients and providers to be in the same place at the same time. And despite advances in medicine, this basic model of care delivery has stubbornly remained the same. The concept of Virtual Health Care is fundamentally about removing these barriers and transforming care delivery models.
As technology and infrastructure advancements related to telehealth and telemedicine have matured, the number of use cases has expanded to become part of larger Virtual Health Care-delivery models. We believe traditional industry terms like telemedicine and telehealth will wane as virtual technology and workflows become the standard for delivering a variety of health and care services. Cerner identifies telemedicine as a key capability, both in the context of virtual health and virtual care. It empowers organizations to increase access while lowering the cost of delivering health care services across the continuum of care. Using an ecosystem of virtual and remote services and technology, organizations are able to provide high quality, cost-effective care at a distance.
The development of Virtual Health Care as a burgeoning sector of the overall health care industry is a result of three factors. First, the confluence of markets, which includes the advancement and broad adoption of telecommunication technologies. Second, the demand for a consumer-driven health care system where convenience and access are an expectation, and finally the need for cost containment resulting in a risk shift from payers to providers and individual consumers.
Moreover, the traditional barriers to telemedicine – lack of reimbursement and health insurance coverage, restrictive state licensure laws and the absence of protocols for telemedicine visits – are rapidly disappearing.
Health care reforms have created a fundamental paradigm shift in focusing efforts on driving wellness and preventive care rather than on episodic care. The long-term relationship between the patients and providers has put patient engagement and care coordination at the center of care delivery. This need has created more viability for adopting Virtual Health Care programs, providing convenient, clinically valuable and cost-effective ways for patients and providers to interact, and expanding provider-to-provider.
Health care organizations, employers and consumers are quickly beginning to understand and desire the value that Virtual Health Care can provide. Virtual Health Care is further asserting its prevalence as both a potential cost lever and also an avenue to deliver expanded care.
Traditional industry terms like telemedicine and telehealth do not account for newer care programs, technology and infrastructure advancements. Alternatively, “Virtual Health Care” encompasses capabilities within the proper context and workflow-driven solutions, whether part of a wellness program, specialist consult, virtual inpatient observation or care team collaboration across the continuum of care.
Cerner has long provided remote technology for virtual ICUs. Additionally, Cerner has several exciting projects and relationships related to some key aggregation platforms, including Apple and Validic, which are on the augmented self-management end of the remote monitoring spectrum, and Qualcomm Life, which is active monitoring. Cerner also has a relationship with Livongo to improve outcomes for diabetics. These relationships will increase the ability for Cerner clients to track their patients remotely, whether to manage chronic conditions through a prescribed device or kit, or through an ecosystem of apps enabling patients to manage their day-to-day health. Cerner will continue to leverage the latest technology to innovate and meet both the current and future needs of our clients.
Virtual Health Care empowers individuals to manage their health and care in new ways. We are now at the tipping point where remote monitoring and real-time meaningful interventions will fundamentally change the way populations engage in their health.