Organizations like Medically Home are part of a global pioneering initiative to bring hospital-level care to the patient when they need it, in their home. This in-home hospital is often referred to as the virtual hospital. The Medically Home virtual hospital is part of a larger network of medical devices and health services around the country developing the standards and implementations for wider adoption of a new more efficient, effect, affordable and safe healthcare model known as digital health, mhealth, telemedicine, telehealth, the in-home hospital, and patient-centric care.
While there are multiple models for the virtual hospital there are many important differences. We can review some of them here. In Finland recently ranked as the happiest country in the world, they are nationalizing their version of the virtual hospital.
A Smaller Project
In one way, the massive size of the United States works against it. With a huge landmass comprising different states with an ability to create and regulate their own laws regarding healthcare, this can mean instituting national policies can be a slow, challenging process. For a smaller nation like Finland, these logistical challenges are not as daunting.
As a result, Finnish university hospitals are now forming a comprehensive national virtual hospital system. This is for patients, the families of patients, and, of course, medical professionals. The Finnish model, however, is going far beyond just medical treatment and is looking at different aspects of health and wellness where people being treated at home, by professionals, via virtual treatment can get results
The Finnish system, known as Terveyskylä, which stands for “Health Village,” is composed of six “houses” or areas of virtual hospital treatment. One of the most productive, for example, is weight management. 120 people are already being “treated” virtually for this, and each one has a personal coach.
Other areas concentrate on mental health, pain management, women’s health, and even rare diseases. Rare diseases, in particular, are getting impressive results due to the speed with which people can now get help. One of the biggest issues with a rare disease is an opportunity to get diagnosed by the relevant specialist. Some people in the Rare Disease “house,” have been waiting over 50 years to be diagnosed! Now, thanks to this “Federal Level Virtual Hospital,” they are getting matched, virtually, with the people who are qualified to help them, and it doesn’t necessarily require extensive traveling.
With this type of radical example of patient-centric care on a national level, Finland is setting an interesting precedent for other nations to learn from. With any luck, the lessons and information gleaned from their national digital health initiatives will be useful to the USA’s efforts, in a much bigger country, with a larger population.