Today’s healthcare consumers expect care to be delivered with more convenience, transparency, and choice. According to the NCR Health’s 2020 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report, 51% of consumers believe convenient access is the most critical factor driving their care decisions. This desire for convenience led to a growing appetite for innovation. As a result, health systems are welcoming a new era of virtual care with an eye toward creating a more convenient, cost-effective, and high-quality healthcare system.
Telehealth — which has been around for more than a decade — emerged as a hero during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a bridge to virtual care by reducing human contact, connecting with specialists, and enhancing operational efficiencies. According to a report by McKinsey, telehealth usage surged during April 2020 but since then has stabilized.
What is Virtual Care?
Virtual care is the remote interaction between patients and healthcare providers using any form of communications technology to maximize the quality of patient care. Video and audio connectivity allow remote providers to see patients from anywhere, eliminating location barriers.
With COVID-19 disrupting healthcare systems, providing efficient and safe access to care has become a priority for many hospitals. Today, most hospitals have adopted basic telehealth devices such as smartphones and computers to improve their care delivery. But creating a secure and efficient virtual care system requires more than these devices. Dedicated medical carts that offer tablet technology, accessible charging and cable management, secure tablet storage and other components play a vital role in increasing convenient access to primary and specialist care.
If your healthcare system is struggling with staffing shortages, improving care access, and cutting costs, read on to learn how the right medical cart can help you expand your reach while eliminating access barriers.
What is a Medical Cart?
A medical cart is a rolling stand that carries medical devices, HIPAA-compliant audiovisual equipment, tablet computers or other peripherals that practitioners or patients use to deliver virtual care. These carts can also include remote tracking and management and a long-lasting battery. With their ease of mobility and flexibility, practitioners can quickly position these carts in tight spaces and provide rapid access to remote experts to improve care delivery.
According to Data Bridge Market Research, the global telehealth market will see a compound annual growth rate of 7.0% between 2022 and 2029 and is expected to reach USD $1.8 billion by 2029, up from USD $1.1 billion in 2021. Currently, 76 percent of hospitals have a telehealth solution in place. But how can health systems scale their telehealth programs to meet future patient needs?
A medical cart accommodates diverse types of telehealth encounters by supporting cameras, speakers, and medical peripherals. These multi-purpose carts are used for a range of services like telestroke, behavioral health, psychiatric disorder treatments, and more. They approach patient and provider experiences innovatively by offering secure and efficient virtual visits directly to the patient.
Tryten’s Telehealth Assistant (Right) assists you in your efforts to implement patient-centered care whenever and wherever needed. It is designed to be lightweight, easily positioned and has a minimal footprint to support the different range of telehealth services you offer.
2. Video Remote Interpretation
According to our partner, CyraCom, a leading provider of language interpreter services to healthcare, “VRI, or video remote interpretation, is a video call between a remote professional interpreter, and an in-person healthcare provider and a person who does not speak English well.”
Traditionally, hospitals used on-site interpreters, but recently VRI has gained traction and emerged to be a safe and effective way to communicate with patients. Video remote interpreting on a medical cart allows organizations to deliver care in almost any language – including sign language.
Tryten’s Virtual ASL Assistant (Right) includes a Wide Screen display and an enhanced sound system to support receptive communication between the interpreter and the patient. A built-in microphone and speaker make it suitable for spoken language communication as well. Equipped with the right peripherals, the Tryten VRI Assistant can run any third-party software or browser-based interpretation system, connecting patients and caregivers with remote translators anytime, anywhere, in any language.
3. Electronic Health Record (EHR) Easy Access
Virtual care is here to stay, but how can your health system make the experience more seamless? EHR integration is an instrumental component of the telehealth care delivery model, as it boosts provider efficiency and improves value-based care. Integrating the EHR and telehealth applications empower clinicians with a single platform rather than duplicating work on two different platforms.
By simplifying workflows, providers improve their efficiency while facilitating faster diagnosis, improving documentation by reducing errors, streamlining data collection, simplifying billing and scheduling, and as a result, improving the delivery of patient care. EHR integration also bridges the gap between telehealth and patient data by allowing patients to access their records virtually.
Tryten’s EHR Easy Access (Right) supports EHR data entry, telehealth, and video remote interpretation (VRI). It saves time, uses less floor space, decreases cost-of-care, and decreases the cost of training, maintaining, and managing different carts.
4. Virtual Rounding
Virtual rounding has surfaced as an integral and collaborative digital tool to bring care to patients safely and balance workloads across providers. In this use case, the patient’s care team uses video technology installed in the patient’s room to talk with the patient from another location to coordinate care.
Medical carts are at the heart of any virtual rounding system, giving healthcare organizations maximum flexibility to quickly mobilize their tablets and video telehealth tools. They can be deployed to access multiple specialists, collect vitals, administer vaccines, or even loop in a family member if needed.
Tryten’s Virtual Rounding Assistant (Right) provides rapid access to remote experts and is easy to push and position for faster rounding. Remote practitioners stay safe and readily available without needing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during a telemedicine appointment.
Using medical carts to deliver health care has several advantages, including reduced healthcare costs, increased patient engagement, the ability to provide care for patients in rural and underserved areas, and others. For these reasons, telemedicine and telehealth platforms have increased over the last decade. Based on ATA’s fact sheet, “76% of U.S. hospitals connect with patients and consulting practitioners at a distance through the use of video and other technology.” This number has grown by 35 percent over the past decade, and as more hospitals learn the benefits of telemedicine and its impact on improving patient experience, it is expected to grow further.
- Through quick access to patient records, connecting with specialists, and performing diagnoses
- Healthcare providers maximize their most important asset: their time. This allows them to provide care to more patients.
- Nurses also save time in administrative tasks such as documenting and scheduling.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
- Telehealth reduces the need for shortage-induced patient transfers or staff increases through access to remote on-call physicians.
- A study from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) found that 1 in 12 patients is readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of being discharged, and hospitals get penalized for these readmissions.
- Another study found that telehealth patients spend less time in hospitals. This helps patients and hospitals save time and money.
- Telehealth visits improve follow-ups, give on-demand clarification, reduce missed appointments, and as a result, cut down readmission costs.
Improved Patient Satisfaction and Engagement
- Patient satisfaction and engagement are two critical benefits of telemedicine, translating to increased revenues:
- U.S. Hospitals that provide “Superior” patient experience generate 50 percent higher financial performance than “average” providers. (Accenture, 2016)
- According to the Harvard Business Review, ratings from patient surveys like HCAHPS impact revenue. Hospitals with higher patient ratings saw a 0.2% increase in net operating profit margin for every one-point increase in hospital rating.
- Telemedicine carts give patients what they value the most: convenience
- Patients are now involved in treatment and diagnosis. They also have the choice of consulting different specialists in one virtual visit.
In an interview with Healthcare IT News, Miles Romney, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at telehealth company eVisit, said, “Closely related to telehealth adoption over the last few years, and the adoption of other consumer-facing health technologies, has been the transition of “patients” to “consumers” – what the industry is calling “the consumerization of healthcare.”
Today, healthcare consumers demand more than just medicine. They want high-quality care and experiences. With the rise of consumer preferences, healthcare organizations must adopt new tools and technologies to increase patient outcomes. Romney went on to say, “Telehealth won’t exist in 2050. It won’t exist in 2025. It will just be health. It won’t be virtual care. It will just be care.”
Medical carts have revolutionized how health systems operate and deliver virtual care. From moving essential equipment from room to room to accessing crucial medical records and test results with the patient by your side, a new generation of medical carts is increasing efficiency while decreasing healthcare delivery costs. Depending on your facility’s needs, different medical carts are available for various use cases such as virtual rounding, accessing patient records, telehealth, video remote interpretation, and many more. As technology adoption continues to accelerate in healthcare, the possibilities for medical carts will expand, entrenching them as critical components of modern medical technology ecosystems.
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