Healthcare Anywhere

What do the digital technology and healthcare industries have in common? Perhaps surprisingly, they are far from mutually exclusive. In fact, these industries are coordinating on a common platform to serve the need for virtual care, and both are at the forefront of transforming healthcare management.

• Second Life® is one of the most widely used 3D platforms for healthcare communities, with companies such as IBM and organizations such as NHS creating
healthcare islands that serve functions ranging from patient support and medical education to professional meetings and research labs

• Before they became commercially available, iPads were piloted among clinicians and surgeons, who used them to read x-rays, manage electronic health records, and watch surgical procedures

• Health and wellness apps are among the top mobile downloads of both patients and physicians

Why virtual care? The challenges facing healthcare today reflect a bolus of dynamics that are forcing us to rethink what it means to treat and be treated. Cost-cutting pressures are on the rise. The number of people who have a chronic disease, as well as those who are obese, is increasing. The population is aging. The proportion of the population that is elderly with chronic disease is on the rise. There isn’t enough time, space, or staff to treat all of the patients who need care.

Virtual clinics provide a type of virtual care designed to tackle these challenges. Hospitals like Holy Cross Hospital in Maryland, networks like the Hawaii Medical Service Association, and healthcare insurance providers such as UnitedHealth are partnering with computer technology companies like Cisco to build virtual healthcare clinics—online communities and resources that allow patients and physicians to simulate live consultations and treatment via websites, IM, video chat, mobile devices, etc, at a fraction of the cost and time of live care and with far more reach. This system combines practicality and innovation to provide costeffective, personalized healthcare. We should think of virtual clinics as both a necessity in the reform of healthcare and as part of the digital technology revolution—booming with possibilities and growth.