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Telehealth Insights

Transforming Telehealth to Virtual Care: 3 Considerations for a Holistic Approach

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that telemedicine is the future of healthcare. Your patients, or more accurately their parents, now expect that video appointments will always be available when they cannot come into the office. In fact, recent data suggests that 76 percent of consumers are interested in telemedicine since being widely introduced to it during COVID-19.

Many providers initially implemented current telemedicine programs during a time of panic. It’s likely that some gave little consideration to the need for those platforms to be sophisticated. However, there is an ever-present need for more refined programs as telemedicine grows.

The evidence that telemedicine is here to stay is in the numbers. Virtual care has increased 40-fold over the last two years, and medical application downloads have increased by 65 percent in the same time frame. Healthcare and technology are in the midst of finding ways they can complement one another.

Evaluating and diagnosing your patients requires more than the subjective information that patients provide during virtual visits. Rather, gathering and interpreting objective data is crucial to creating an effective treatment plan. To accommodate the growing demand for virtual medicine and still provide excellent patient care, virtual medicine has to evolve beyond video screens.

How Do I Make Virtual Care More Accessible?

Innovations are on the horizon to make virtual care more accessible as it provides patients with a safe and convenient way to obtain healthcare. However, there are some important points to think about as a pediatric provider. Here are three considerations for a more holistic approach to virtual care.

Clinical Effectiveness

Holistic virtual care is about creating a seamless patient experience between in-office and telemedicine appointments. To successfully transition to holistic virtual care, you’ll have to take a hybrid approach. For example, your office can integrate with testing sites to make procedures, such as lab draws, more convenient. Making this integration a reality will require the development of sophisticated remote patient monitoring and diagnostic tools.

Luckily, some technologies already exist, including applications that remind your patients — and their parents — to take their vitals. It then lets you, the pediatrician, review that patient’s information prior to their appointment. In addition, there is an application that uses artificial intelligence to monitor patients’ voices to screen for respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and asthma. While these technologies are not prevalent, they will need to become more readily available as the virtual care model grows.


Virtual care has already proved itself to be cost effective for patients because they do not have to take time off of work and lose their pay or spend money on gas to drive to appointments. However, we know that reimbursement to you, the provider, is always a consideration before you invest in new programs for your practice.

Fortunately, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have approved many telemedicine services over the last year. Insurance plans have also begun offering virtual-first health plans that allow patients to see a provider virtually before they go into your pediatric office.


Making sure that everyone has the ability to virtually connect to their healthcare provider is a large undertaking, and there are many variables to consider. One of the most important things is how you’re serving vulnerable populations within your community.

Some populations, such as those of lower socioeconomic status and ethnic minorities, may not have internet or remote device access. This is especially true in rural areas where broadband internet is not readily available. Furthermore, these families may not be able to afford smartphones, laptops, and tablets, which are necessary to connect to virtual appointments. The healthcare system must consider these underserved communities, their access to technology, and their ability to connect via the internet when fully transitioning to virtual care.

What Are the Statistics on Virtual Care Evolution?

The COVID-19 Advisory Committee of the American Psychoanalytic Association recently conducted a survey to compare the rate at which healthcare providers utilized telemedicine pre-COVID versus today. The committee received 287 responses, including 268 responses from active clinicians. Of the 287 surveys submitted:

  • 35 percent had no use of technology in their practice prior to COVID
  • 55 percent of providers are currently practicing only online
  • 25 percent are conducting between 60-99 percent of their appointments online
  • 0.4 percent are seeing patients 100 percent in person
  • 9 percent said they expected to return to an in-person, in-office setting full-time
  • 38 percent said they expected to be mostly in-person with telehealth when needed
  • 43 percent indicated they expected a combination of telehealth and in-person therapy
  • 5 percent said they expected to remain fully telehealth

What’s My First Step for Implementing the Virtual Care Model?

Not sure where to start when it comes to a holistic virtual care model? A great first step toward virtual care is Anytime After Hours, which connects registered nurses with parents who call outside your clinic hours. These healthcare professionals assess patients’ symptoms and direct them to the appropriate level of care. Video triaging is also available.

You can rest easy knowing that your patients are receiving safe and accurate advice from licensed healthcare professionals, avoiding unnecessary and costly emergency room visits. Contact us today to request a consultation!