Technology is rapidly transforming the way we deliver healthcare. New virtual healthcare models are reshaping care around consumers. These models allow us to provide services in more timely, accessible and convenient ways. This means we can intervene earlier in the course of an illness and deliver more integrated care.
Virtual healthcare also increases consumers’ access to specialist care and advice, especially in rural and regional areas.
Factors driving the growth of virtual care include advances in technology, changing consumer expectations and increasing service demand. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this growth and showed us how much virtual care models can adapt to changing environments.
Virtual care has been successfully adopted in many settings, and through multiple innovative models of care, including in hospitals, aged care, primary care and community-based care.
The Victorian Government has supported health services to implement and scale up innovative virtual care initiatives. These include the Victorian Virtual Emergency Department and a statewide video-consulting platform. We also now use virtual care in established programs, such as Hospital in the Home.
We need to drive innovation and explore available and emerging technologies and solutions. At the same time, we need to make sure virtual care is culturally and clinically safe, effective, acceptable, accessible and equitable for all Victorians. System enablers will be strengthened to support new ways of providing healthcare.
Virtual care provided across the care continuum will enhance and sustain high-value care and continue to improve Victorians’ health outcomes.
This strategy defines a common understanding across the Victorian public health system of shared strategic planning and goals for virtual care over the next five years. The strategy:
- outlines a five-year vision for virtual care, that aligns with the broader departmental Vision, and strategic pillars to integrate virtual care as a safe, effective, accessible, equitable and sustainable option for healthcare delivery in Victoria
- clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the department, health services and other key stakeholders in virtual care provision
- addresses strategic issues relating to:
- equitable, consumer-centred care
- workforce supports
- secure digital infrastructure
- enabling legal frameworks and connected records
- funding policy and mechanisms
- innovation, outcomes monitoring and evaluation.
The strategy covers public health agencies, including acute health services and registered community health services.
Its ultimate purpose is to allow Victorians who prefer virtual care to use it when it is appropriate and available through development, expansion, and increased access.
This strategy was developed through:
- review of Australian and international literature
- expert workshops involving key health sector stakeholders from across Victoria
- consultations with sector and departmental representatives involved in virtual care
- the guidance of the Virtual Care CEO Working Group
The authors thank all those whose contributions were invaluable in developing this strategy.
Reviewed 25 September 2023