Forum 2023 top 4 takeaways: How health systems can find success in change
The hundreds of healthcare leaders who attended or presented at Teladoc Health’s 2023 Forum conference shared many practical and innovative ideas about virtual care, its future and how to get the most out of it. Here are the recurring themes that emerged from the keynotes, breakout sessions and discussions.
1. Virtual care is more conceptual than concrete
Many traditional perceptions of virtual care don’t accurately reflect the full scope of how it’s being used today. The experiences shared by Forum 2023 participants show virtual care is frequently part of hybrid care delivery where remote and in-person care are used together in flexible ways, depending on patients’ circumstances. Virtual care is not one-size-fits-all. There are some common use cases, but workflows and the in-person/virtual care mix are unique to each organization.
The COVID era necessitated many changes to care models, with hybrid care emerging as a clear and growing trend. It enables health systems to leverage scarce specialist resources across larger patient populations, which in turn can both reduce leakage and improve outcomes.
2. Winning early acceptance is essential to any virtual care strategy
Regardless of how extensively an organization uses virtual care, gaining trust from patients and practitioners early in the program is imperative for its success. Several presenters spoke about the importance of involving bedside care teams in program planning and credited doing so with their programs’ success. Fear and reluctance to change are natural and should be acknowledged.
Here are some proven tactics for gaining acceptance that participants shared:
- Proactively educate patients about how virtual care benefits them. Today many patients are open to virtual care, but acceptance and enthusiasm can’t be taken for granted.
Emphasize to staff that virtual options and processes are intended to help them, not replace them. The specifics vary by use case, but common examples include reduced data entry and more convenient communication among care teams and patient family members. There are some good case studies and statistics available to show that job satisfaction improved for nurses and other practitioners after virtual care was introduced.
3. Consider the non-financial aspects of ROI
A powerful way to develop organization-wide support for virtual care is to identify and highlight the internal benefits it can provided. Professionals that directly provide patient care may not be motivated by basis-point improvements to margins. Show care teams how virtual care can make their jobs easier and improve overall care for patients. There are many documented virtual care benefits related to quality metrics, job satisfaction, retention, recruitment and patient experience.
4. AI is ready to play a role, but are providers ready for it?
While healthcare leaders are aware of the wave of AI tools that are being developed for dozens of administrative and clinical functions, they’re questioning if and how to introduce those tools into their organizations. Among Forum 2023 attendees, there was interest and momentum for using AI for documentation support to reduce data entry and administrative tasks for clinicians. As with overall virtual care, program leaders should emphasize that AI is a tool to help their people, not to replace them.