Dr. Bruce Leff is the founding father of the “virtual hospital” concept and a promoter of the idea of a more comprehensive, patient-centric care ethic. This serves two purposes. It gives patients a more personalized form of treatment, convalescing in comfortable, familiar surroundings. It also reduces the stress and expense of traditional hospital treatment by freeing up beds and services for people that don’t necessarily require in-hospital treatment for extended periods.
In a 2014 workshop, Dr. Leff introduced receptive industry members to the concepts and hurdles that the virtual hospital concept faced, and he made some sobering observations.
The Demographics Are A Wave
Dr. Leff’s biggest concern in his opening remarks was that the virtual hospital was going to need more consideration due to one big factor; the changing demographics of the American population. He was speaking specifically about the aging population in America, and how there are more and more people, especially from the Baby Boomer and Generation X demo, that would be in a position where they might require regular hospital treatment. However, these groups might not require extended periods of hospitalization.
This is where the virtual hospital concept he has envisions would “pick up the slack.” By improving the virtual hospital concept, and raising the level of home treatment to acceptable hospital levels, more people would be able to receive quality care without needing an extensive hospital admission and release process.
According to Dr. Leff, one of the key factors needed is an end to the isolation of different agencies in the treatment process. As he describes it, different groups, such as payment processes, and even different caregiver groups operated in “silos.” These different groups were unaware of what the other groups were up to, which could obstruct treatment efforts. Seamless integration would be the key to overcoming this, so that, for example, one insurance or payment group wouldn’t interfere with another in handling payments. Central, transparent access means all groups have the same information about a patient, eliminating redundancies, and speeding up administrative processes.
Dr. Leff has been a critical advocate of the virtual hospital, and the Medically Home Group is committed to improving the techniques involved and letting more patients benefit from this style of treatment. It’s another reason why Medically Home is committed to bringing the virtual hospital to the patient in their own home when they need it.