According to NHS England, "Virtual wards allow patients to get the care they need at home safely and conveniently, rather than being in hospital." They go on to explain that a virtual ward can include remote monitoring using apps, technology platforms, wearables and medical devices such as pulse oximeters. Support may also involve face-to-face care from multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) based in the community".
You will be admitted to your home
The implementation of this form of healthcare delivery has been anticipated for many years and was predicted by Total Health - Are you ready for Mobile Health (mHealth)?. However, it took the pandemic to accelerate the transition.
The NHS are now selling a version of their own called 'Hospital at Home'. Hospital at home includes intensive care for acute conditions through multidisciplinary healthcare teams. This form of care requires secondary care level specialist leadership (traditional hospital consultants), with clear lines of clinical responsibility. The provision of near-patient testing, pathology and point of care testing will be essential and some treatments are planned to include hospital level interventions - such as intravenous fluids, therapy and oxygen.
Hospital avoidance for an ageing population
The whole point is to use technologies to avoid the need for any hospital admissions (and save money!). If patients can be treated at home, then the new NHS will encourage it. Hospital at Home say, "Patients and families often prefer the comfort of Hospital at Home to Acute Care hospitals".
With over 6 million NHS patients now on waiting lists, new methods of care delivery have to be found. There are 10 million people over 65 years old in the UK, and this is projected to grow by 5.5 million in the next 20 years. This will inevitably lead to higher demand in caring for degenerative conditions and an increasing number of people with cognitive decline and dementia.
The Total Health Virtual Hospital
Private patients are also benefiting by navigating their treatment via virtual hospitals such as Total Health Virtual Hospital (THVH), where possible. Following the various 'lockdowns' many patients have now grown used to attending digital-physical consultations and conducting sessions with their doctors on-line. For many types of medical consultations, such as dermatology and menopause - virtual medical sessions are often preferred.
Of course, it may be some time before major operations such as knee replacement surgeries are performed in your own home. However, even these procedures are becoming increasingly minimally invasive and therefore not necessarily always requiring an overnight stay.
Early triage and early intervention also helps to reduce the clinical risk and will usually result in better treatment outcomes. The virtual hospital allows even some of the most specialist forms of care to be managed from home or work.
Getting the help you need from the leading medical experts
The virtual hospital provides a total healthcare pathway via a GP or direct to medical specialists - such as a vascular surgeon Mr Daryll Baker, or a dermatologist such as Dr Suchi Badvey (pictured). Utilising the latest approved medical technologies, the requirement for travel to hospitals can be reduced and sometimes removed.
So, with over twenty five virtual wards, THVH provides access to the most appropriate doctor of your choice, at a time of your choice.
The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods ceaseFull medical glossary