The healthcare industry is changing all the time, with new modalities coming to light meant to improve health outcomes and streamline the industry overall. One such modality is the virtual hospital ward, and while this model is in its early stages, it has strong potential to create meaningful change. Let’s explore.
What are virtual hospital wards?
Virtual hospital wards, also known as hospital at home, are a fairly new care model that safely provides patients with hospital-level care at home where they are most comfortable. This aids in hastening recovery and also ensures hospital beds are reserved for the most critically ill patients.
Patients under the supervision of a virtual hospital ward are cared for by a multidisciplinary team capable of providing a range of treatments and tests, just as they would in a physical hospital. The medical team conducts daily patient reviews and may carry out “rounds” through telehealth or home health visits. Furthermore, the clinical staff uses wearables, remote medical devices, and apps to monitor patients.
The concept of virtual hospital wards is designed to promote greater autonomy, expedite discharge, and help avoid the health hazards linked to prolonged hospital stays. Virtual hospital wards can also alleviate hospital congestion by enabling suitable patients to receive the necessary care at home.
How are virtual hospital wards being used?
Virtual wards have recently been the focus of an NHS initiative. They are utilized in numerous ways, such as offering treatment for severe respiratory diseases, helping these patients to get back home earlier, and delivering superior care for senior patients within the comfort of their own homes.
Over the previous year in the UK, more than 100,000 patients have been treated in a virtual hospital ward. Each of these patients were able to receive hospital-level care while avoiding admission. After these early successes, the use of virtual hospital wards continues to expand.
What are the benefits of virtual hospital wards?
There are many benefits to be realized from the use of virtual hospital wards, impacting patients, providers, and the healthcare industry overall.
- Reduced demand for hospital beds. With an aging population and increased chronic illness, the demand for hospital beds is running high. Virtual wards allow hospitals to keep beds available for the most critically ill while still providing care to all who need it.
- Lowers care costs. In the UK, where virtual hospital wards have seen greater adoption, cost savings have been reported. In fact, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust began using virtual hospital wards in July 2020 and has seen an average cost savings of £742.44 per patient, or $926.19 in US dollars.
- Provides patients with more time with their family. Allowing patients to be in their own home gives them the ability to spend more time with their family in a comfortable setting. This can help to raise a patient’s spirits, which can also help to see positive outcomes.
- Increased patient satisfaction and improved outcomes. Patients are more satisfied with the comfort and convenience of virtual hospital care. Additionally, avoiding the risk of secondary infection that follows extended hospital stays leads to improved health outcomes.
While virtual hospital wards have yet to see widespread adoption in the United States, their success in the UK highlights the opportunity to realize numerous benefits from their use. Providers, then, would do well to be aware of this new care modality and be prepared for its potential implementation in the coming years.
At Henry Schein MicroMD, we strive to help our clients to be ready for whatever the future of medicine may hold. With an array of solutions for services such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring, providers can be prepared for the possibility of virtual hospital wards, while also realizing some of those same benefits now.
For more information, visit micromd.com and view our Solutions Central Partners, or call 1-800-624-8832.
About the author,
Crystal is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. Content creation, social media management, and SEO optimization are just a few of her areas of concentration as she seeks to educate clients and prospects alike about the simple, customizable, and connected solutions we offer at MicroMD.
Looking for PM or EMR Software?
MicroMD PM and EMR/EHR is flexible and can fit almost any specialty. Let us help you get back to the business of healing.