Virtual Care Clinics: What Can We Learn from Early Adopters?

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Virtual Care Clinics: What Can We Learn from Early Adopters?


Virtual care clinics (VCC), one form of telemedicine, provide patient-initiated primary and urgent care services using real-time, interactive technologies (e.g. video, phone). The potential value proposition for health systems to offer VCC services include emergency department diversion, expansion and extended reach of convenient services to satisfy today’s health consumers and as a means of patient acquisition. As VCCs are in the early adoption stage, there is an opportunity and a need to learn from early adopter organizations if this promising technology is to cross the boundary between the early adopters and early majority stages. The inability to bridge the chasm between these two stages is known to impact the success of high-tech, disruptive innovations. In response to current gaps in knowledge related to VCC adoption, the proposed study aims to:

  1. Examine implementation, operations, and patient engagement practices and processes from the perspective of early VCC adopter organizations, and
  2. Use findings from Aim 1 and evidence-based literature to provide insights to key VCC challenges and best practices.

How is this different from related research?

There is a shortage of practical knowledge and empirical data regarding early adopters of VCCs. Furthermore, little information is currently available from the telemedicine literature to guide health organizations as they launch VCC service lines. Although some findings from this limited body of telemedicine literature may hold in the VCC context, nuances likely exist, given such factors as:

  • the general structure of VCC as an outsourced service
  • VCC services are initiated by a patient or caretaker making contact for services (as opposed to a referral by physician)
  • the competing options for care in a noncritical situation

This proposal aims to address these gaps in knowledge.

Value Proposition

  • Provide relevant and timely insights to future and current adopters of virtual care clinics
  • Inform wider adoption practices and processes of innovative telemedicine delivery models
  • Extend reach of care at reduced cost to support population health management priorities
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