One of the most remarkable impacts of the pandemic has been the speed with which it accelerated telehealth as a mainstream channel for clinical consultations. Issues that were once considered intractable were solved almost overnight out of sheer necessity and the need to protect our frontline workers and patients from infection.
The surge in telehealth is most likely a symbol of something much bigger, and more profound. Care virtualisation is a concept which has gathered pace in the wake of the pandemic. Put simply, virtualised care reflects the broad range of health services that are being delivered using digital channels. Some of these are reflected in recent Cisco deployments across Australia, including extensive uptake of the Webex platform to enable virtual visits, improve communication and connect families with patients at a time of extreme stress.
Cisco provided Flinders University with funding under its global Country Digitisation Acceleration program to look at the opportunities for virtualised care. The result is a compelling report titled `Reimagining a better healthcare system through virtual care.’
“Up until 2020, it has been an ingrained part of Australian culture to receive healthcare in a face-to-face setting and in the provider’s rooms or clinic. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented culture interloper. It will shift our culture in many ways, not least in our societal expectations and understanding of how we receive healthcare. We believe that virtual care has an important role to play in the future of healthcare delivery in Australia: ‘right care, right place, right time'”
– excerpt from Reimagining a better healthcare system through virtual care (quote attributed to PWC)
One of the most important themes from the report is the importance of underlaying digital infrastructure as an enabler of new care models that will increasingly be characterised by smart sensing, self-management and remote monitoring.
Virtualised care is a theme that will continue to rise in prominence as health care systems continue the quest to improve patient care and safety, redefine the patient experience, deliver cost efficiencies, and fortify their underlaying platforms against cyber attacks.