Across the nation, hospitals and health systems are reshaping virtual care programs to be more accessible, affordable and responsive to patients, clinicians and care teams. The challenge is: How do you capture best practices of in-person visits and evidence-based medicine while adapting to the unique setting of virtual care?

Building Your Virtual Care Framework

1 | Document your implementation strategy.

Include all unique activities of health care staff for a typical virtual care encounter. Compare and contrast in-person and virtual care contexts based on the patient’s reason for the visit. This comparison can help uncover process complexities that may arise unexpectedly when transitioning from in-person to virtual care. Categorize care-related activities before, during and after the visit and guide the technical assistance process for patients who have specific visual, auditory, language, technology literacy or technology infrastructure needs.

2 | Integrate all program components.

This will make the overall patient-clinician experience as seamless as possible. Focus on ways to:

  • Prepare patients and clinicians to use required technology.
  • Educate them on how to look at the camera during conversations, and choose appropriate lighting and audio equipment.
  • Find a secluded space with minimal distractions.
  • Streamline all ancillary logistics that complement a virtual visit, including making future appointments, ordering prescription refills and incorporating personal health information captured on in-home devices.
  • To gain trust and buy-in, prepare patients and caregivers for self-monitoring and self-care with educational materials (e.g., tip sheets and links to training videos) and ensure that all communication is culturally and linguistically competent and clear.

3 | Follow best practices.

Use evidence-based decision criteria to guide appropriate use of remote care (e.g., for lower-complexity and lower-emotion visits).

4 | Provide support.

Timely support for virtual visits and the surrounding infrastructure is essential. Invest in ready-to-serve tech assistance for patients, clinicians and clinical teams. Ensure adequate supply chain redundancy to solve potential device or connectivity issues.

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