Why The Healthcare Industry Is Embracing Virtual Care In 2024


Jumping on a video call to chat with a colleague has become second nature for many of us. The global pandemic forced the world to adapt to virtual communication overnight, and it’s no surprise that many industries have continued to adopt video conferencing options, favouring flexibility and efficiency over cumbersome commutes.

The healthcare industry is no exception, with hospitals and practitioners across the globe, as well as the NHS, finding ways to adapt to new technologies. Through the use of virtual consultations, they have increased accessibility and improved efficiency of care.

In a recent report, the telemedicine market was valued at almost $115 billion in 2023 and is forecast to reach $286.22 billion by 2030 (Tech Report).

Increased Accessibility

The days of travelling all the way to your GP and sitting in a waiting room, just to have a 5-minute consultation are decreasing rapidly. In-person appointments will always be needed in many circumstances, however, both practitioners and patients are increasingly embracing virtual consultations. A report from the 2022 U.S. Consumer Trends In Patient Engagement Survey showed that patients prefer virtual visits for certain types of care, including primary care (55%) and mental healthcare (45%).

Virtual care allows patients to access treatment wherever they are located; those living in remote locations can more easily access care from their own homes, and specialists across the globe can now be contacted at the touch of a button. On top of that, overall reduced waiting times and decreased travel costs improve the patient experience immeasurably (Frontiers in Psychology).

Improved Efficiency

Making use of video calls for consultations has significant benefits for practitioners. There is a global shortfall in quality care caused by stretched capacity and a shortage of healthcare professionals, often leaving patients waiting months for procedures and appointments.

With an established virtual care setup, practitioners can triage early and address certain types of care remotely, enabling more resources to be channelled to the places that need it most. The NHS have published various guidance for practitioners as well as prioritising digitally-enabled care as part of their long-term plan.

In 2023 in the US, 47% of Telehealth appointments were follow-up appointments, closely followed by regular check-ups, prescription refills and mental health support (Tech Report). These types of care when facilitated remotely provide extensive opportunities to save time and resources and ultimately, provide more effective care. In a survey of GPs, 67% said that using video calls increases efficiency (RCGP).

Effective Care

In some healthcare sub-sectors, virtual care has been proven to be just as effective, if not more so, when held through virtual consultations (Frontiers). In particular for the Mental Health Care industry, patients’ “subjective well-being” has been reported to significantly improve when teletherapy and telecoaching are included as part of treatment (Modern Health).

The growth in the number of virtual therapy platforms is a testament to this, with platforms like Unobravo (Italy), Tebra (USA) and AccuRx (UK) growing rapidly in recent years to provide consultations globally.

Environmental Benefits

Aside from the benefits to patients and practitioners, there are environmental benefits to providing care virtually, primarily by reducing emissions from travel. A report published on nature.com revealed that Stanford Health Care’s virtual care system reduced their 2021 GHG emissions by nearly 17,000 metric tons as compared to treating those same patients in person. This is the equivalent of over 2100 homes energy use for a year or the CO2 sequestered by nearly 20,000 acres of forest in one year.

As one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, the healthcare industry has a duty to reduce its emissions; embracing video call technologies could provide a significant step in the right direction.



Advances in Technology

The technology available to Telehealth platforms today is significantly better than it was just a few years ago. Patients no longer need to be sent to a random Zoom link, download software or be bumped out of their healthcare platform to join their consultation. Using solutions like Whereby, healthcare providers can integrate virtual consultations into their platforms for a seamless experience for both patient and practitioner. This integrated approach helps to build trust with patients as the call takes place natively within their trusted digital healthcare environment, minimising security risks while also ensuring patient confidence in the system.

Using an API and SDK, the possibilities for customisation are extensive, enabling providers to deliver the experience they want, how they want it. There is no need for every Telehealth provider to become video calling experts themselves. By working with an established 3rd party they can focus on providing the best possible care experiences, leaving the video call technology to those that specialise in the field.



Ensuring Privacy and Security for Patients

A common concern with using video call solutions is the privacy and confidentiality of patient information. By choosing a solution that prioritises security as a core value, Telehealth platforms can be confident that the consultations they facilitate are safe and compliant. For example Whereby offers HIPAA compliance for healthcare customers and is GDPR compliant and ISO27001 certified.

Embracing Video Consultations Into the Future

Numerous Telehealth platforms are today relying on solutions like Whereby to power their virtual consultations, and with the market set to grow rapidly, this will only increase. Find out more about integrating video consultations into your Telehealth platform – whereby.com.