Saving Time & Money with Asynchronous Virtual Visits

Beth Walsh, writing in Clinical Innovation + Technology about Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)'s Virtual Practice Pilot:

Enter virtual visits. [Ronald] Dixon spent years researching alternative forms of patient care and found asynchronous visits to be the best methodology. In asynchronous visits the patient and physician don’t have to be scheduled and available at the same time, but can exchange and review information when they each have time.

In just about every other facet of life, we all massively benefit from asynchronous communication. Think about how much email and text messaging are now ingrained in our communication patterns. It's so convenient to coordinate dinner with friends over text message or to figure out where that meeting is with a colleague over email. No need to actually make a phone call to sort this stuff out.

It's no surprise then that asynchronous communication would be tremendously useful in the realm of healthcare. Not every encounter actually requires both parties to be face-to-face and conversing in real time. This is especially true for providers managing patients with chronic conditions.

Patients answer condition-specific questions in a secure website and then the physician reviews the answers within one day and communicates the next steps through the website. “The key point here,” says Dixon, “is that we’re not just talking about check-in visits. We are making the same types of decisions made in the office. We are trying to move care away from the office whether it’s to increase medication or order a referral, lab or radiology test.”

There are huge efficiency gains to be made shifting some office visits to asynchronous virtual visits. In fact, Dixon notes "virtual visits take an average of 3.6 minutes compared to 18 minutes for an in-office visit."

Other benefits noted in the article:

  • The virtual visit platform "eliminate variability and increases the validity of the evaluation.”
  • Under new payment models, providers "could decrease the overall number of visits and potentially improve the quality of care at the same time." and "Physicians using virtual visits receive one-third extra compensation as an incentive..."
  • "Patients are not being triaged at “some foreign call center—these are patients the physicians know..."
  • "Patients might be more willing to share their true thoughts with the technology." At RoundingWell, we've witnessed same phenomenon. Patients disclose more information when asked in the comfort of their own homes.

In closing, Dixon says:

“If I had a chronic condition, this is how I would want to be managed. I want an accurate diagnosis but then I don’t want to go into the office every three to four months if it’s not absolutely necessary. Yet I would still like to be managed by someone who knows me.”

We couldn't agree more. RoundingWell is tailor-made for the same scenarios mentioned in this article. Asynchronous virtual visits (which we call RoundingWell Check-Ins) hold great promise to alleviate burdensome administrative tasks from clinicians and at the same time improve outcomes and the quality of care.

Be sure to read the full article.