Skip to main content
Telehealth Insights

What’s the Difference Between Telehealth and Virtual Care? 

While most practices have enabled some form of telehealth to connect with their patients virtually, how does virtual care differ from the current telehealth offering your practice provides?  

Let’s break it down: 

Telehealth is the use of any digital technology that enables pediatricians and providers to conduct healthcare visits with their patients from the comfort of their own home using live video, audio, and/or instant messaging. 

Virtual Care, on the other hand, takes a more comprehensive approach and encompasses all forms of digital healthcare services–ranging from treating patients via telehealth, virtual check-ins as a follow up to an in-person visit, monitoring vitals and conditions virtually, responding to patient questions and concerns, and providing a Virtual Nurse Triage service when your office hours are closed. Virtual Care focuses on all the avenues patients and doctors can engage digitally and communicate in real-time. 

The Future is Virtual Care 

Virtual care is here to stay. Across the board, healthcare systems are looking at virtual care as a larger part of their patient care and engagement strategy. Patients have started to adopt and value the flexibility and convenience virtual care provides. Virtual care is especially beneficial for those who live in rural communities and would normally need to drive long distances to access healthcare or a visit to their local doctor’s office. Also, for many families in your community, struggling with language barriers, telehealth innovations are enabling patients to connect to their care providers remotely using live interpreters and a Spanish-language virtual care platform. 

Research continues to reveal that virtual care, as it relates to the medical home model, can reduce healthcare costs, such as decreased hospitalizations including days spent at the hospital, decreased visits to the emergency room, and less out-of-pockets costs for families. 

Five Steps for Transforming your Telehealth into Virtual Care 

What opportunities has your practice taken advantage of when it comes to virtual care?  

Are you offering virtual walk ins, after hours video nurse triage, or virtual behavioral health? 

Have you streamlined your patient experience to include telehealth into daily scheduling? 

If your practice has not yet moved the needle forward, here are some practical steps for transforming your telehealth process into an integrated piece of your patient experience. 

  1. Evaluate how your practice is using telehealth today—what is working, what are the benefits, and what are the deficiencies (such as staff adoption, time commitment, or ease of use)? Lean on the expertise and feedback of your front staff team who have had to navigate and use your telehealth platform daily. They will share with you the platform’s limitations and the wish list of how to make virtual care a reality at your practice.  
  2. Develop a plan of how your practice can integrate a variety of virtual visits. Survey and ask your patients about what kind of visits they prefer (in-person or virtual), and what kind of visits would they like conducted virtually. Also, work with your practitioners to uncover how virtual visits can be a part of your practice’s daily scheduling, such as slotting afternoons for virtual care visits.  
  3. Research telehealth platforms that are on the marketplace that move beyond just providing live video and calls. Look for those that can grow and adapt as your practice evolves from a hybrid model to a more robust virtual care engagement.  
  4. Emphasize patient education, promote on your website, social media, and email communications. Make it accessible and easy for your patients to book and choose from a variety of virtual visits from your website and when they call in to make an appointment. For your staff, who are hesitant to adopt, provide training, deeper education on the benefits, and provide incentive to help encourage virtual patient engagement.  
  5. Consider Virtual Nurse Triage as part of your hybrid virtual care model, which is an excellent revenue opportunity when your office doors are closed – such as in the evening, during the weekend, or during holidays. Virtual Nurse Triage takes video technology from telehealth visits and allows nurses to see the patient and conduct the visit in real-time. Nurses can see what the parents are seeing, and it adds a visual component to the triage process.  

The Bottom Line 

Virtual care creates a positive healthcare experience that encourages families to stay in the medical home — and your practice — every time. They are also more likely to recommend your practice to other families. Both scenarios lead to long-term, positive impacts on your bottom line. 

Anytime Pediatrics is here to help you innovate and create a hybrid virtual care model that makes sense to your practice and patients. Contact us today for a consultation and to learn more about how to transform your telehealth solution into a virtual care one!