Why Healthcare Organizations Are Using Virtual Sitting
Virtual patient sitting or observation is part of the growing use of technology in healthcare to increase staff productivity while maintaining or improving patient care, says Lynne Dunbrack, group vice president for IDC’s Public Sector practice, which includes IDC Health Insights.
The major concern is fall prevention, Dunbrack says. “Injuries from falls can complicate recovery, and care for falls may not be reimbursed by payers as they are considered a ‘never event’ by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
The traditional healthcare model of one clinician interacting with one person in a physical location is too inefficient to serve hospitals or patients well, adds Dr. Joe Kvedar, immediate past chair and senior clinical adviser to the American Telemedicine Association.
“The breakthrough in virtual sitting is that one person can safeguard many patients, and that has tremendous potential,” he says.
Technology investments and the cost of finding and training the observers are the chief barriers to adoption of virtual sitting, Dunbrack adds. Some of that expense can be mitigated by also deploying tools to involve family members and remote consultants in the patient’s care, she says.
For Kvedar, the primary hurdles to acceptance of virtual sitting are patient privacy concerns and quality control. “We need guidelines for training and for implementation. You probably don’t want one person watching 24 squares on a screen,” he says.