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Video Visits versus Virtual Care


The difference lies in more than just the name.

Most healthcare leaders, providers, and practice groups smartly jumped into offering telehealth with video vists when the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. last March.

This was a solid move. These healthcare professionals knew serving the needs of patients was paramount; with the regulatory barriers lifted, two-way video conferencing quickly met the immediate requirements to safely engage and deliver patient care.

Now, after millions of video visits executed across the U.S. by providers and staff, there is a realization of the disparity between video visits and Virtual Care. There is a difference—video visits were a quick-fix solution and now many are likely experiencing the need to pivot toward a longer-term Virtual Care strategy and technology partner.

Healthcare providers are thinking more strategically now that the first wave of COVID-19 is behind them. According to Gartner, a research firm, in its recent Virtual Care Solution report, healthcare providers are moving from initial disjointed solutions to a long-term, enterprise-wide strategy. Gartner also cautions to be mindful that the market is currently highly fragmented and there is great variation in terms of solution capabilities and cost.

“Attempting to retrofit an existing solution to a new use case may not be the cheapest, or most effective option,” say Gartner analysts in its report.1

Here are some key take-aways from our work with medical practices of all sizes: 

  • Everybody talks about Virtual Care similarly, but they use different terms such as “video visit”, “remote care”, “telemedicine”, “telehealth”, “digital health”, and “mhealth”, among others.
  • Whatever you might call it, it’s here to stay and everybody wants to do it more effectively. 
  • Medical practices all have distinct goals, processes, workflows, and organizations.

You may have ignited telehealth with video conferencing and subseqently learned that’s not working.

In one of our consults, we learned of a hospital system that was conducting 7,000+ video visits per month. They quickly learned what they needed: an efficient end-to-end solution that virtualizes every aspect of the clinical workflow from scheduling and intake, the remote visit itself, to eprescribe, discharge, and payment.

The Cost of a Fragmented Process

The above graphic details the significant disparity, especially the many friction points providers and staff encounter as they marry the myriad “non-virtualized” physical steps with the many team members it takes to conduct a single video visit for just one patient.

These non-virtualized steps actually take more practice staff—as many as eight people—to navigate and transact the video visit process. With video visits, there are multiple software and interfaces in play including the practice management suite; Electronic Health Record system; two-way video system, and the many team members who are phoning, emailing, texting, diagnosing, adjudicating, billing, charting, and prescribing.

Our analyses show that using an end-to-end solution saves time and labor costs and delivers a higher gross margin/visit as high as 75%.

That there is a difference between video visits and Virtual Care is one of the top lessons learned by practices during the pandemic. As you think through post-pandemic Virtual Care strategies, especially improving your capabilities to boost revenue and to serve expanding patient demand, consider this cost analysis.

About Bret Larsen
Bret Larsen is a Virtual Care Strategist, CEO and Co-Founder of eVisit, where he and his dedicated team are helping HCOs innovate in today’s rapidly changing healthcare industry. eVisit is powering hundreds of thousands of virtual visits, connecting providers and patients within its HIPAA-compliant eVisit Virtual Care platform, enabling providers to deliver efficient and effective patient care. eVisit is a Representative Vendor in the Gartner 2020 Market Guide for Virtual Care Solutions and the SOLO LEADER in the Forrester Wave: Virtual Care Platforms for Digital Health, Q1, 2021

1. Gartner, “Market Guide for Virtual Care Solutions,” 26 October 2020, Sharon Hakkennes, Pooja Singh
Gartner Disclaimer: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in our research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact.
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