Over the last few years, the American medical system has gone through many changes. One area that is being redesigned is the treatment and diagnosis of acute medical conditions in a hospital setting.
Current models primarily focus on inpatient and outpatient care, but today the use of what is known as a virtual hospital is becoming much more common. Recently, a systemic review titled Alternative Strategies to Inpatient Hospitalization for Acute Medical Conditions was performed by a group of medical professionals using evidence from numerous sources including MEDLINE, Scopus, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews.
This systemic review looked at data gathered over 21 years. It reviewed aspects of acute condition care including patient experience, costs, and more. The research found some interesting outcomes including the following.
• Virtual hospital management provided much higher patient satisfaction when compared to inpatients, with those coping with heart failure issues reporting a patient satisfaction rate of 96%.
• Quality of life, functional ability, and other health factors were unchanged when using a virtual hospital service or a traditional inpatient type of treatment. The one exception was heart failure exacerbations. Patients with this issue actually showed significantly improved health related quality of life compared to inpatient care.
• Savings in overall costs could reach an average of $1572 per patient, with more than $3 billion in annual savings occurring over the entire country simply by stepping away from a hospitalization model and looking into alternative care options.
It is important to note that in some instances such as the patient satisfaction review for those with heart failure exacerbations, there was no inpatient comparison group to compare to the success of a virtual hospital treatment. As such, determining the exact differences between the two has yet to be fully done. However, these studies do show that patients are more satisfied by being treated in the comfort of their own home.
The bottom line is that for patients who are low-risk and suffering from acute medical conditions, using a virtual hospital model instead of inpatient hospitalization is generally a better option. It provides comparable outcomes and patient satisfaction while reducing overall costs. As such, virtual hospital care is something that deserves more consideration from the health care community – and patients as well.