Is Virtual Hospital Care Feasible?

The medical field is always changing. As new breakthroughs, ideas, and technologies are introduced, the level of care that is provided to patients continues to improve. This includes the way that care is provided, and one of the most interesting changes over the last few years have been the increase in virtual hospital care.

With this care model, patients receive medical care in the comfort of their own home for acute conditions instead of being confined to a hospital setting. A recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine looked into the clinical feasibility and efficacy of delivering hospital level care in a virtual hospital setting to determine just how effective this type of treatment was. It has already been well documented that older persons with acute conditions may often experience adverse events when in a hospital setting, but can a virtual hospital setting improve on this?

In the study, 455 elderly patients who required hospital admission were monitored. Several different measurements were used in the study including:

• Standards of care
• Clinical complications
• Satisfaction of the patient with their care
• Costs of care
• Clinical process measurements
• Functional status

The goal of the study was to evaluate the overall safety, efficacy, satisfaction, and clinical and functional outcomes of patients receiving virtual hospital care and to determine if it is a viable method of caring for patients who require ongoing treatment.

The patients in the study were given the option of receiving care in a virtual hospital setting or a traditional hospital. Those who elected to receive care in their home weren’t admitted to the acute care hospital at all. Instead, they received an initial evaluation – usually done in the emergency department – and then received all of their treatment in their home using the virtual hospital model.

60% of patients given the option chose home hospital care. Those who did were found to have fewer procedures, shorter stays, less delirium, and greater overall satisfaction. Additionally, costs were shown to be reduced with virtual hospital care. And, along with all of the improvements, patients showed similar functional outcomes after this type of care was provided to them.

The conclusion that the study found was that for selected patients who are eligible for virtual hospital care, it is a viable option that serves as an excellent alternative to traditional hospital care. It is a treatment option that deserves more attention from the medical community as well as patients.