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Stay connected along the entire patient journey with virtual health

By Molly McCarthy, RN, MBA, Chief Nursing Strategist, Microsoft on March 13, 2017

Filed under Health

Nurse kneeling down next to a patient in a wheelchair

As a nurse, you want to ensure that patient experience and outcomes are optimal. Virtual health solutions can help you do that by removing distance as a barrier and making it easier to engage with patients along their entire care journey—before, during, and after their visit or procedure. They can also help by empowering you to collaborate with other care team members from anywhere to provide more cohesive, coordinated care. And virtual health solutions can offer ways for patients to proactively manage their own health using technology they’re accustomed to using in other areas of their life.

Virtual health connects clinicians, patients, care teams, and health professionals to provide health services, promote professional collaboration, support self-management, and coordinate care across the care continuum.

Our customers are using virtual health solutions for three key scenarios: telemedicine, telehealth, and telecollaboration.

Telemedicine refers to provider to patient interactions—clinical encounters between a care team member and a patient at a distance. Health organizations are using telemedicine solutions such as RingMD in order to improve access to care, lower labor intensity, and deliver services such as virtual office visits in a low cost and convenient manner.

Telehealth refers to digital health services and tools that engage health consumers in the context of their digital lifestyles to promote self and peer care, remote management, lower cost utilization, and care plan compliance. They include consumer-focused tools such as patient portals, secure messaging, and wearable technology. For example, health organizations are using solutions such as HealthGrid to meet patients at their devices and connect with them at every step of their care journey using a CRM platform to provide a proactive, patient-centered experience.

Telecollaboration is about professional to professional interactions—care team collaboration that supports the efficient exchange of expertise, best clinical practice, and effective care coordination within multi-disciplinary teams. For instance, IHA, a not-for-profit multi-specialty physician group in southeast Michigan, uses Skype for Business to empower staff to convene virtually and share expertise and files anytime from wherever they are.

IHA is also using its Skype for Business platform for provider-to-patient telemedicine. Using one cloud-based productivity platform for multiple virtual health scenarios enables health organizations to achieve economies of scale—and can make it easier for nurses to have the same communication and collaboration experience across scenarios and applications.

Technology for virtual health has been around for a while, but with the recent announcement of Microsoft Office 365 Virtual Health Templates, it’s easier for health organizations to have tailored workflows for their myriad telecollaboration, telehealth, and telemedicine services all on one virtual health platform.

With solutions from our partners powered by the extensible Skype for Business platform, web and mobile experiences that integrate presence, chat, audio, and video with customized clinical processes can be made available in many interfaces and even existing applications. That means they can be tied in with other systems to help connect the dots of a patient’s journey for a holistic approach to virtual health.

To learn more about how customers and partners are benefiting from our Virtual Health Templates read the Office team’s blog.

And if you have any questions about how nurses can use virtual health solutions to improve patient outcomes—or if you have your own virtual health story to share—please reach out via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

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