PwC's framework for delivering virtual healthcare strategies

11 February 2021 3 min. read

Even beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual healthcare will remain at the forefront of the healthcare industry. How can policy makers, healthcare providers, hospitals and other health institutions deliver their virtual healthcare ambitions?

Virtual care comprises technology-powered methods that help bring provider-to-patient or provider-provider together remotely and effectively. This includes solutions for virtual consultations, remote patient monitoring capabilities and the construction of ‘virtual hospitals’, as well as apps and other digital tools that can boost healthcare prevention and augment the patient experience.

Professional services firm PwC is one of the leading consultants to the healthcare sector in the Middle East, and has been doing pioneering work to support health organisations with developing virtual care strategies and bringing those to life. Experts in the firm’s Healthcare practice outline its approach for a successful transition: 

Strategy and governance – As virtual solutions are now deployed throughout the region as a result of Covid-19, health providers should define the long-term strategic direction of virtual care. This includes creating a holistic virtual-care strategy to highlight the vision and operating model of various virtual-care initiatives. 

Experience and engagement – A key aspect of sustainable virtual-health solutions is high adoption rates and good user experience. Simply replacing traditional methods (i.e. phone calls) with new technology (e.g. a video call) will not be effective unless the entire user experience has been considered. In a region where interpersonal relationships are valued highly, those using the technology should be an integral part of designing and piloting virtual care to integrate insights and expectations.

Care model design – The acceleration of virtual care throughout the pandemic was mostly focused on virtual appointments. However, health providers should now identify other care pathways that can incorporate virtual care. This could include tele-ICU, remote patient monitoring and self-care tools.

Operations workflow and integration – The use of virtual care in 2020 was mostly related to the provision of health during the pandemic. Hence, it is now important to consider the long-term clinical and non-clinical workflows of the solutions to ensure optimal efficiency.

Revenue risk and progression – For both public and private health facilities throughout the Middle East, it is important to consider the sustainable reimbursement and payment structures for virtual care solutions.

Technology infrastructure and interoperability – A seamless, integrated and sustainable ecosystem can be created by using a digital health blueprint to define the infrastructure and interoperability requirements to connect current siloed virtual care solutions. A blueprint can be used to integrate the virtual care solutions with a health information exchange, which will facilitate access to a patient’s medical record or recent X-rays, hence providing personalised care.

Cognitive and analytics – Once the virtual solutions have been deployed and integrated, the next step is to ensure that advanced analytics and reporting can generate integrated reports to enable prediction and improvement.

Workforce and engagement – The final element of the virtual care framework relates to supporting the healthcare organisation’s clients through ongoing process improvement at all levels. 

Commenting on the PwC’s virtual care framework, Lina Shadid, Health Industries Lead at PwC said: “Looking forward, virtual care will become a necessity in multiple workflows of healthcare rather than a luxury. In fact, we predict that it will soon become a ‘new normal’ in the Middle East, with both providers and patients expecting some level of remote care and communication. Of course, the amount of virtual care that can be practically and effectively delivered will vary by both subspecialty and diagnosis.”