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How the virtual health landscape will shift in a post-COVID world

Remember, if you can, back to February. You had probably never scheduled a virtual doctor’s appointment—or heard of Zoom.

Today, of course, everything is different.

One silver lining of COVID-19 is that quarantines and social distancing have accelerated the adoption of telemedicine. Now, virtual visits are on pace to top 1 billion by year-end, according to data from Forrester Research

At Advocate Aurora Health, we’ve completed more than 700,000 visits just through September—nearly 30 times our original 2020 goal. At the same time, millions of Americans have also turned to other digital wellness solutions to combat pandemic-induced stress, fear and anxiety. 

Now that so many people have experienced the convenience and benefits of virtual health, we are committed to continuing the momentum. Here are three ways the digital health revolution will continue to make consumers’ lives easier in a post-pandemic world.

  1. By helping the chronically ill
    While many people today seek telemedicine appointments for lower-acuity health problems, in the future people who have complex issues will use virtual visits to stay in convenient, regular contact with their clinicians. This will have a positive impact on people’s wellbeing, because we know that health outcomes significantly improve when patients have an established relationship with their doctors.Beyond virtual physician visits, we’ll use digital health tools to monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels of patients in their homes. We’ll advance virtual care that extends into behavioral health and well-being, including support groups such as online Alcoholics Anonymous or diabetes management sessions.

    Ultimately, we’re moving toward what we call “hospital at home,” as care moves from hospitals and outpatient centers into the home environment, enabled by mobile devices.

  2. By keeping you healthy
    As the healthcare industry increasingly shifts its focus to optimizing wellness rather than simply treating disease, virtual tools will help us maintain and improve our health. Today, as the pandemic continues to exact a toll on our emotional and physical wellbeing, taking proactive care of our minds and bodies has never been more important. Advocate Aurora Health’s LiveWell app offers guided meditations, healthy recipes and articles featuring tips from expert clinicians to help you achieve your health goals.And because awareness is key to disease prevention and early detection, LiveWell also offers quick, four-minute health quizzes to assess your risks for common illnesses, from diabetes to colorectal cancer, and determine whether you should see your doctor for evaluation.

    In the future, virtual tools may include personalized insight and coaching based on your unique genetic makeup and the personalized data you enter, from your daily steps to your moods. These tools will deliver both predictive and preventive care to help you avoid a health crisis before it begins.

  3. By helping you stay organized
    For too long, health care has failed to deliver the consistent, simple and seamless experience we have come to expect across other verticals like leisure, banking and retail. At Advocate Aurora Health, we’ve started to tackle that problem through LiveWell. The app offers easy appointment scheduling and bill pay, plus the ability to review your test results and message your care providers. Even better? You can also handle these tasks for your loved ones without logging into a different account, thanks to LiveWell’s innovative family view.Through technology, we’re working to meet your needs and personal preferences when and where it’s convenient—so you not only stay healthy, but also live well. 

Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States and a leading Midwest employer with 75,000 employees and the region’s largest employed medical staff and home health organization. The system serves nearly 3 million patients annually in Illinois and Wisconsin.

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Kelly Jo Golson, Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Jo is responsible for consumerism, brand, marketing, digital strategy, public affairs and internal communications at Advocate Aurora Health, the 10th largest health system in the United States. A leader at Advocate Health Care since 2007, she has more than 25 years of industry experience including leadership roles with Methodist Healthcare System, St. Luke’s Episcopal Healthcare and Memorial Hermann Healthcare, all in Houston. Named one of the “Most Powerful and Influential Women” by the Illinois Diversity Council in 2014, she serves in a variety of leadership roles with the American Heart Association, including a current member of the national Communications and Marketing Committee, the 2014 Metro Chicago Heart Walk Chair and the Heart Ball Executive Leadership Team. A former reporter, Kelly Jo is an active member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, a charter member of the Ragan Communications Leadership Council and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. She received her master’s degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University.

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