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What is Virtual-First Care?

What is virtual-first care?

The world of instant access has caught up with healthcare.

First, it was telehealth, then video calls. Now, digital platforms are making it easier for patients to connect with providers, and for providers to share information with care teams — creating fully integrated virtual care. More specifically, virtual-first care, which is medical care for individuals or a community accessed through digital interactions where possible, guided by a clinician, and integrated into a person's everyday life, as defined by the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe).

Virtual-First Care Builds Autonomy

Virtual-first care, or V1C, is exactly that — care that is accessed first in a virtual way. V1C allows patients to have 24/7 access to a full care team of doctors, including their primary care physician, condition-specific specialist, and certified coaches.

Using mobile health platforms, patient data is collected in real-time (with the patient's full knowledge). The electronic medical records created are then accessible to everyone on the healthcare team and the patient, making it easy for both clinical collaboration and for patients to become more involved in taking control of their own health.

Virtual-First Care is Accessible Care

Patients, especially those in remote or underserved areas, don't need to travel to connect with a provider or specialists. They can now make their initial contact (and follow-ups) virtually.

Prospective patients may feel intimidated by making in-person appointments, knowing what doctor to see, or knowing when and where to go. Virtual healthcare providers, like Omada Health, take the unknown element out of the experience by allowing members to explore options online, book appointments, and speak with care teams and clinicians from the comfort of their own homes. 

In the V1C model, the clinical care team gets to know members on a personal level as each virtual encounter is recorded for everyone to access. This lowers the burden of entry to an in-person healthcare encounter, as the member is not required to schedule an appointment with an unknown doctor. Members also don't have to recall what to tell their clinician, because patient history is complete at the time of their first meeting.

Virtual-First Chronic Care is More Accurate

When users track their daily progress or numbers on the Omada Health platform, which targets chronic conditions, there's an increase in understanding and context for the provider. This way, chronic care is more accurately controlled, because the member or the care team can take immediate action based on real-time data.

For example, if a stressful week at work spikes a patient's blood pressure during an annual exam, the provider would have access to historical data that would put the reading into perspective as an outlier. The patient can see the data, too, and take proactive steps to control the stress, using biometric and other sensor technologies for feedback, and accessing asynchronous information for support between appointments.

The best care for patients with chronic conditions is team care, and V1C makes that care more accessible. It also enables patients to take control of their conditions and make lasting behavioral changes — changes that will ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Omada Health is a founding member of IMPACT and has helped set the industry standard for quality care in V1C.