Chronic disease management is a critical issue for the healthcare system as there are countless logistical barriers to delivering adequate care for patients. Especially in BC, where many of those living with chronic diseases are located near remote and rural areas where some individuals may need to travel up to two days to receive care (Canadian Healthcare Technology, 2018). Studies show that 44% of Canadian adults suffer from a chronic disease (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2019).
Where does virtual care fit in this picture?
With virtual care, healthcare providers enable patients to stay in their preferred location and connect and consult with their doctors without having to physically travel. This allows for timely access to care, and higher quality of care as virtual appointments can be used to support and monitor patients with chronic diseases. Patients with chronic diseases also tend to rely on specialized care when treating their symptoms. Virtual appointments reduce this barrier to access to specialized care as patients will not have the mental and physical burden of traveling long distances. The secondary benefit is that patients can avoid any associated costs such as travel expenses, babysitters, and parking.
Currently, the BC Women’s Hospital Complex Chronic Diseases Program is supporting those with chronic diseases with virtual care. The program has been well-received as 83% of participants believe the technology enhances their quality of care.
Virtual care is not limited to simply phone/video calls with a doctor, technologies such as wearable technologies, blood glucose monitors, and Bluetooth blood pressure cuffs are being integrated to improve services (Heath, 2020). Some chronic diseases require frequent monitoring of diet, physical activity, and general health. With these technologies’ healthcare providers can keep tabs on patients and provide consultations or send smart alerts when there are any changes in the patient’s condition. Providers will be able to allocate more time and resources to care for patients with critical issues. By simplifying chronic disease management patients can spend more time on personal matters while receiving a higher quality of care.
Furthermore, by monitoring and guiding patients with chronic diseases hospitals can maintain their patients’ health and reduce their chance of being readmitted to the hospital. Moreover, those suffering from chronic diseases can be at higher risk from infections, and reducing the number of people in clinic waiting rooms will help keep patients healthy (Davidson, 2021). This is especially important with the novel coronavirus affecting the country, chronic disease patients are avoiding in-person visitation. This creates an issue where patients avoid clinics in fear and in turn, they’re more at risk for their condition worsening due to the lack of care.
Virtual Care Guidelines
Although virtual care has countless potential benefits clinics need to know how to implement the technology properly. Here are a few guidelines to follow: virtual care is meant to support not replace in-person visitation, patients should seek in-person care in emergencies, it is important to educate your patients on how to use the technology through manuals, videos, etc., the amount of care can be limited as there is no physical aspect.
To learn more about how to implement telehealth properly or how Porton Health’s virtual care system works, contact us to find a solution that solves your needs.
Davidson, E. (2021, March). How Virtual Care Has Changed My Chronic Illness Treatment. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/how-virtual-care-has-changed-my-chronic-illness-treatment#Im-less-exposed-in-waiting-rooms
Heath, S. (2020, June 2). Key Strategies for Remote Chronic Disease Management. PatientEngagementHIT. https://patientengagementhit.com/news/key-strategies-for-remote-chronic-disease-management
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2019). Prevalence of Chronic Diseases Among Canadian Adults – Canada.ca. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/prevalence-canadian-adults-infographic-2019.html
Virtual care for chronic disease patients in BC | Canadian Healthcare Technology. (2018, August 22). Canadian Healthcare Technology. https://www.canhealth.com/2018/08/22/virtual-care-for-chronic-disease-patients-in-bc/