March 28, 2022
Post-Pandemic Virtual Rounding Can Improve Care and Increase Efficiency
Healthcare organizations are adapting technology introduced during the pandemic for long-term needs.
During the pandemic, virtual rounding emerged as a way to provide timely, consistent care to patients in isolation. The rapid adoption of virtual rounding can be attributed to a number of factors, including a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and relaxed HIPAA requirements. These unique circumstances allowed healthcare organizations to implement a wide variety of rounding solutions. These included consumer products such as Apple FaceTime and established videoconferencing platforms like Zoom and Cisco Webex. In some cases, hospitals were able to extend existing clinical collaboration platforms by adding tablets or cameras within patient rooms.
As the pandemic winds down, healthcare organizations are looking to expand upon the benefits of technology investments like virtual rounding. For some organizations, this involves taking a step back and evaluating the technology based on new criteria and objectives.
Next Steps for Virtual Rounding
As providers establish long-term approaches to virtual rounding, many are reviewing their tools for redundancy and compliance. One common move is to consolidate, where possible. For instance, if a hospital has three video platforms in use, it may try to reduce this number. Additionally, increased growth or adoption may necessitate the purchase of additional platform licensing. In some circumstances, capacity, supportability or information security considerations may require rearchitecting the solution.
Hospitals are also focusing on program management and governance, circling back to assess processes related to deployment of virtual rounding technologies. They are evaluating whether the right stakeholders were involved in those decisions and what the potential ramifications of extending some of these newer capabilities might be.
While the volume of virtual rounding has waned since the height of the pandemic, hospitals that invested in these solutions have good reason to keep them in rotation. To start, there will always be patients who require isolation. In addition, although most clinicians prefer to conduct rounds in person, having the capability to conduct rounds remotely when necessary can be advantageous.
Virtual rounding technologies also facilitate consultations with remote experts, as well as remote supervision of residents at academic medical centers. Next to efficiency, one of the biggest benefits that virtual rounding provides is the ease of expanding the care team to include clinicians who can bring additional insights to patient care.
Virtual Rounding Complements Broader Digital Health Strategies
Virtual rounding was strongly tied to the pandemic as a situational use case. At the same time, the healthcare industry as a whole is shifting toward the concept of digital health, recognizing that certain aspects of care delivery can be achieved digitally. Under that umbrella, virtual rounding sits in the same realm as practices such as telehealth and telesitting.
I predict that as these approaches evolve, providers may stop referring to virtual rounding as a distinct practice. They’ll simply begin to talk more broadly about the application of digital health across the continuum of care, and virtual rounding will be just one of the innovative strategies that providers can leverage.
Story by Mike Larsen, a healthcare technology strategist at CDW•G. He is an accomplished IT leader with over 20 years in the healthcare industry covering inpatient and outpatient service lines.