One Hospital’s Experiments in Virtual Health Care
Few recent trends in health care delivery have more power to improve population health, patient and provider experience, and hospital business models than virtual care. But for an industry reliant on, and in many ways limited by, brick-and-mortar facilities, this movement will mean significant disruption for providers. As more commercial and state payers offer telehealth coverage and patients come to expect virtual care as standard practice, meeting the demand is quickly becoming clinically and financially imperative.
Like many hospitals, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is actively preparing for the era of virtual care in order to best meet our patients’ needs. We are at the cusp of this transition. As Medical Director for Telehealth at BWH as well as the Partners Healthcare Center for Population Health, I rarely go a week without hearing about a new practice interested in offering one of our virtual care services, a patient inquiry about our telehealth programs, or a significant change in the reimbursement landscape that may affect virtual care delivery. In spite of this growing buzz, however, virtual care at our institution and most other academic medical centers remains more of a future vision than a daily reality. For smaller or community-based providers, this gap is even wider.