Virtual Care Alleviates Barriers to Specialty Care Summus November 7, 2023

Virtual Care Alleviates Barriers to Specialty Care

Rural West Texas town with limited access to specialty healthcare

Virtual care continues to revolutionize healthcare and alleviate barriers to specialty care. It offers patients the opportunity to connect with physicians regardless of distance and empowers them to make informed decisions from the convenience of home. Initially launched to address primary and urgent care, virtual care has evolved to support specialty care across the continuum of health conditions—from allergies to migraines and more complex conditions, like ALS and cancer.

Timely access to medical expertise bridges the divide

Nearly 80% of the rural US is medically underserved.1 About 29 million people have to drive more than 30 minutes to reach the closest hospital. This creates a hospital desert and is compounded by the fact that most US counties lack adequate healthcare infrastructure.2 Virtual care delivers timely access and fills the hospital desert void, and benefits patients by helping them:

Access the best specialist.  

Before virtual care, patients had little choice when it came to selecting a specialist. They were limited to specialists nearby and who had availability. The virtual medium combined with a network of specialists from top academic medical institutions allows patients to find a specialist with expertise in their medical condition. For instance, a patient diagnosed with breast cancer in remote parts of New Mexico or South Dakota can meet with a leading specialist in New York—without expensive travel, the burdens of arranging dependent care, and time away from work. The convenience of virtual care is especially vital for patients living in remote or underserved areas.

Select specialists based on personally important criteria.

About half (42%) of U.S. adults want a physician who meets their personal criteria. Some patients are more comfortable with physicians who share the same race, ethnicity, or cultural tradition. Virtual care supports concordant care no matter the health condition or concern. What’s more, concordant care extends beyond personal preference, leading to a better patient-provider relationship and improve health outcomes.

Connect with specialists in hours or days.

Patients can wait as long as 47 days to see a specialist in person, meanwhile their health can worsen and anxiety mounts. Virtual specialty care provides fast access and answers to patients’ health questions, empowering them with information that supports informed decisions, big or small. This fast, simple access can speed time from diagnosis to treatment, and create a personalized path forward for managing health. In addition, virtual care accommodates busy schedules by providing evening and weekend availability.

Invite family and caregivers to participate.

Family members, caregivers, and even other healthcare providers can participate in meetings, no matter where they live. Broader involvement is particularly beneficial for patients with conditions that require long-term care, follow-up and coordinated care efforts.

Virtual care supports remote and rural work settings

Remote and rural work settings have become increasingly prevalent.3,4 It is now more important than ever for employers to provide healthcare solutions that bridge geographical and time gaps. As the virtual front door to healthcare, Summus provides fast access to comprehensive healthcare to support employees and plan member—anywhere, any time.

About Summus

Summus accelerates access—in hours or days—to best-in-class clinical guidance, advocacy, and navigation, helping patients, families and caregivers get the answers they need from high quality specialists to make informed decisions about care. 

1 KFF News
2 MedCity News
3 WeForum

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