How Distributed Healthcare Improves Quality of Care
Let’s think about this question: what if we could provide healthcare at home?
Distributed healthcare enables patients everywhere to receive the care they need.
While clinicians and care teams can’t be replaced, assistive healthcare technologies can help many patients exercise independence and stay as healthy as possible.
This article will help you understand what distributed healthcare is and how it helps improve health outcomes and care quality.
What is distributed healthcare?
Examples of distributed healthcare include telemedicine and specialized medical equipment such as remote monitoring devices.
The role of technology
Technology advances in every sector, and medical care is no exception. For example, telehealth implements telecommunications and information technology for clinical healthcare and medical consultations.
Healthcare providers are taking advantage of widespread Internet connections to offer online appointments where patients consult with their doctors in video meetings.
Care teams can offer many appointments through telehealth, such as checkups, physicals, and specialist visits.
Distributed healthcare in the form of retail clinics is increasing rapidly. For example, CVS and Walmart are piloting clinics that offer primary care, eye care, lab work, and dental care. Publix is another retailer with telemedicine kiosks in a few locations.
But as distributed healthcare becomes more popular, it’s important to be aware of costly cyberattacks targeting distributed healthcare settings. Various security vulnerabilities exist among the network of devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) within a distributed healthcare setup.
Most of these vulnerabilities are human-enabled causes that stem from people, processes, and policy factors. Often, organizations need more resources and expertise to manage cybersecurity risks.
Why distributed healthcare?
Healthcare should be as less invasive as possible. For example, in a more traditional setting, clinicians can come in person to see a patient at home.
However, visits like these aren’t ideal as they are time-consuming for clinicians. Furthermore, a lack of available resources, such as machines or scanners, may become a hindrance.
Distributed healthcare facilitates a smoother and pain-free process for certain segments of people, like those with chronic conditions.
Distributed healthcare decentralizes healthcare and enables high-quality care. We will explore four models of distributed healthcare in greater depth.
Virtual care consists of home-based medical devices that gather patient-reported outcome data and biometric indicators like blood pressure levels.
With virtual care, quality care is accessible for chronically ill patients who need more supervision and those in smaller rural communities who have a harder time traveling to a local hospital.
Health disparities between groups are prominent, but distributed healthcare makes competent care more accessible. Continuity of care is no longer an issue. Fairer access to healthcare services is simplified with virtual care, and the patient experience is better.
Virtual care is also very beneficial for research purposes. We can reach a larger and more diverse pool of patients, and they don’t need to worry about coming to research sites for clinical trials.
Why should the hospital be in a fixed location? Mobile care is another model of distributed healthcare.
A hospital on wheels can provide more beds for patients in any location and improve access to care in a given community. Mobile care allows on-demand primary care access in the hearts of underserved communities.
Access to healthcare services improves considerably when a mobile hospital can come to community members where medical services and specialized care are scarce.
Healthcare services in walk-in destinations such as malls, gyms, department stores, and airports lower healthcare access barriers.
Routine exams and medical procedures in these community-based places will free up hospital resources, take the pressure off of a person to schedule expensive, frightening hospital appointments, and support early detection and diagnosis of any illness.
Preventive care, too often overlooked, can’t be ignored when medical services are offered everywhere one goes.
Hospitals for specialized care
Hospitals can operate more efficiently with limited resources by providing a narrower range of specialized services and acute care.
Health outcomes could be determined after a workout at the gym, aboard a health truck nearby, or at home on a computer.
The future of healthcare should serve a patient and what is convenient for them, not a hospital or distant physician. New levels of competent care and organization will dramatically elevate the patient experience.
A global need for distributed healthcare
OECD and UN data predict there will be more people over 65 in the coming future. The prevalence of chronic disease, common in older individuals, is rising.
Meanwhile, hospital capacity is shrinking by the day, so patient care capacity is also decreasing. This trend is happening worldwide, albeit at differing rates and timelines.
The cost of care today, and moving forward, isn’t sustainable by any measure. And the healthcare workforce is offsetting these healthcare costs. As a result, we will soon run out of trained personnel.
Caregiving is difficult work, and caregivers everywhere are impacted by collateral diseases, resulting in burnout and depression. These elements hold devastating socio-economic consequences. So, the quality of care provided further worsens.
This news became relevant as the highly contagious COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide, and person-to-person contact became dangerous. Virtual care and virtual appointments became a necessity to stave off the spread of a new virus that could be fatal.
The result is many patients now prefer the remote patient experience.
Bring healthcare closer to your patients
You can view distributed healthcare as “healthcare without walls or hospital visits.”
Thanks to IoT, we can facilitate medical technologies anywhere and bring healthcare closer to the patient.
The traditional healthcare system is giving way to healthcare services offered at home, in retailers, in other community locations, and on specially set up vehicles.
There’s so much more to the healthcare system than a hospital. Personalized care at home and uninterrupted continuity of care are made possible with distributed healthcare.
Hospital overflow is reduced, and primary care access is equitable and easier.
Globally, the need for change is evident to close health disparities. A new healthcare model of distributed healthcare will cut down the strain faced by current low-quality health systems and resulting poor-quality care.
Learn more about Welkin Health and how we are improving the relationship between healthcare providers and their patients.