Critical Analysis Essay: ‘Please Don’t Come Back’: Using Virtual Care to Prevent Readmissions
In the article “‘Please Don’t Come Back’: Using Virtual Care to Prevent Readmissions,” written by Manjot Sandila and Omouyi Omoike, and published on the Healthy Debate website on 28th November 2022, the authors justify how the digitization of healthcare services will significantly reduce the rate of patient readmission in hospitals. The article’s main argument is that readmission cases in Canada continue to rise because of the inequality in access to quality health care. They believe that it would not be the case if marginalized communities (poor and those in remote areas) were allocated equal resources such as reliable internet connection, which would allow them to make use of telehealth services to help monitor their health progress virtually (Sandila & Omoike, 2022). The article was motivated by the readmission of one of Sandila’s patient, Tim, who had undergone successful open-heart surgery, but in just a month, he was back at the hospital with his breastbone incision open and oozing. Tim lived in remote Northern Ontario (an underserved community), which, according to Sandila & Omouyi (2022), might have contributed to his not receiving adequate aftercare services due to limited access to such healthcare services. The article successfully makes the case that without the healthcare delivery systems in Canada adopting telehealth to help ease access to healthcare services, the readmission challenge will continue to disrupt clinical outcomes.
The article starts with a case study of Tim, a remote Northern Ontario resident who is back at the hospital within one month of a successful surgery due to rupturing the incision. This case backs up the statistics that patients from poor communities are at a higher risk of readmission compared to those from wealthy neighborhoods by about 14 percent. This statistic clearly informs the state of inequality in healthcare access within Canada. The authors suggest adopting virtual care to help ease this problem because they believe it will ‘improve the patient-health-care provider experience’. The few cases where virtual care was adopted have shown promising results, i.e., in the “Integrated Care” and the “Virtual Recovery After Surgery” programs. However, in order for the virtual care program to take shape, there must be concerted efforts from the government and all healthcare stakeholders. This program was also not short of concerns since some believe it would create further inequities in health care given that most rural areas need to be equipped to adopt telehealth fully, hence the need to ensure remote areas have access to a reliable internet connection. In order for readmission rates to successfully reduce nationwide, the initiatives should be adopted in every part of Canada as such will allow Canadians to feel valued by the system (Sandila & Omoike, 2022).
First off, the author’s organization of their argument was on point. This is because they start with a case study that presents as the background of the research question from a personal perspective. This instance evokes both ethos and pathos. The author (Sandila) is the nurse who cared for Tim and saw him recover fully, and to see him back in such a short time for the same issue must be heartbreaking for her because her goal is to help patients improve. Therefore, we feel emotions of empathy for the situation as she struggles to understand what could have gone wrong (pathos). In terms of ethos, we find her credibility as a nurse who understands the gaps in health care, thus making a plausible argument to help solve the readmission issue. Afterward, she uses logos by providing statistics that show how the government loses billions of dollars a year to cater for readmission cases within a month and also shows the margin of readmission rates between rural and urban residents. This also evokes pathos since the situation is discouraging and calls for urgent attention. Then, they make a case for virtual care by stating how it would help patients and healthcare providers (logos). They then show how most Canadians prefer virtually engaging with their doctors through proven statistics while stating the successful programs that have reduced readmission by employing virtual care to back their argument to show logic and credibility.
The authors also don’t shy from criticism and include a counterargument which they rebut effectively. When critics warn of a widened gap in equitable access to health care, the authors counter it with a solution that involves the government investing in reliable internet connection so that no one is locked out of the benefits of telehealth. So yes, the article effectively met the needs of its audience (health care stakeholders and government), who are called to action to help improve the health care system through virtual care in order to counter the readmission challenge.
It is evident that readmission poses a major gap in health, and virtual care might be the answer. Since patients require aftercare as much as the treatment, it is best to check in with healthcare providers frequently to improve clinical outcomes. The article argues that telehealth offers such convenience for both parties; therefore, healthcare stakeholders should foresee a virtual system to allow healthcare progress.