Virtual-first care is a telehealth trend that’s emerged in the past few years. Virtual-first care directs patients to a video visit, call, or other digital interaction with a clinician before or instead of an in-person visit.
Payers, self-insured employers, and some providers use virtual-first care in primary and urgent care settings to more easily triage the patient’s care needs, determine the best care setting from in-person to virtual, and drive follow-up. There are similar applications for this use of technology in niche areas of telehealth like behavioral health and dermatology.
For patients, this means they can more easily start their care journeys anytime and anywhere that works best for them. And healthcare organizations can build more efficient, personalized, and comprehensive care solutions that guide patients through their care journeys.
The public health emergency declared when Covid-19 became a pandemic has fueled the growth of virtual-first care. The bipartisan support of virtual health in Congress has also helped a great deal. But as the industry progresses toward a virtual-first future, we must address these questions:
- Has it left a permanent impact on the healthcare industry?
- Has it resonated so strongly that employers, payers, and providers will continue to make it widely available?
- What will be the balance between virtual care and in-person clinician appointments?
- How are lawmakers addressing these challenges?
The eBook The Future of Virtual-First Care, sponsored by Wheel, explores some of the challenges, identifies trends, and offers insight as to how healthcare stakeholders are envisioning the future of virtual health. It highlights some virtual-first care approaches that payers, providers, and self-insured employers offer. It also addresses some challenges virtual-first care stakeholders will need to overcome for this value-based care approach to become more widespread.