Bright.md,flu,telemedicine,virtual

Prepping Your Practice for Flu Season: Are Virtual Visits the Answer?

Ray Costantini, M.D., MBA, CEO and Co-Founder, Bright.md

Ray Costantini, M.D., MBA, CEO and Co-Founder, Bright.md

It’s that time of year again. Healthcare delivery systems are preparing for the onslaught of patients who will walk through the door with cough, cold, and flu symptoms in various stages of severity. This season presents providers with challenges ranging from controlling contagion and protecting fragile populations to increased workloads and supply and demand discrepancies.

So, like every year, systems are informing patients about CDC’s flu shot recommendations and then setting up clinics where patients can get them; educating schools and the rest of the community about outbreak conditions; ordering extra supplies; and staffing up for the increased number of patient visits.

Healthcare providers that offer virtual care—especially asynchronous virtual care– to their patients are often better equipped to deal with this challenging time of year. They can encourage sick patients to seek care from the comfort of their homes, reducing the number of people who they could spread the virus to—including at-risk populations such as pregnant women, newborn babies, elderly patients, and those with weakened immune systems.

While all remote-care programs can help manage contagion, asynchronous virtual access solutions offer some unique benefits. Solutions that provide automation support increase provider efficiency when treating high-demand but low-acuity conditions, like the flu. This frees up time for clinicians to meet the needs of patients with high-acuity needs or chronic conditions. Increased efficiency can also help prevent provider burnout, which is typically at a dangerous high during the fall and winter months.

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Autism Treatment,Legislative Support,Pediatric Care,Rural Health,Stoltenberg Consulting,Telehealth,value-based care

Emerging opportunities for telehealth in the shift to value-based care

Sheri Stoltenberg, Founder CEO Stoltenberg Consulting

Written by: Sheri Stoltenberg

As the healthcare industry becomes more competitive in the push toward value-based care, providers are turning to telehealth for expanded patient-care opportunities. Through the consideration of the legislative progress, technology use and successful case studies surrounding this care-delivery option, we gain a deeper understanding of emerging opportunities for providers. Moving forward, healthcare providers who understand the potential of telehealth, as well as the direction of the marketplace, will have a key advantage.

Patient Perception

As telehealth evolves, one of the most noticeable changes we’ve seen is the increasingly positive perception among patients. Every year, more patients and their families look to telehealth services for convenience, comfort and decreased out-of- pocket costs. In a small qualitative study published in the May/June issue of Annals of Family Medicine, all patients surveyed were satisfied with video physician consultations, while a majority of patients said they are open to provider follow-ups with virtual visits.

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entertainment experience,HCAHPS,Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems,Steward Health Care System,TeleHealth Services

Healthcare televisions provide foundation of hospital patient satisfaction and education

Matt Barker, Vice President of Marketing and Interactive Solutions, TeleHealth Services

Hospitals are embracing the technology infrastructure in patient rooms as a strategy to differentiate services and improve patient experience.

Investments in technology that improve care, support financial reimbursements, increase safety and reduce readmissions also are driving improved Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient satisfaction scores.  

While at home, people watch TV an average of six hours a day. In a hospital, TV viewing increases to almost 11 hours each day. Hospital televisions offer a welcome distraction during a difficult time. Hospitals are investing in an infrastructure that provides quality entertainment on high-definition televisions on par with what patients experience when they are at home or in a hotel room. Healthcare has joined the hospitality industry in recognizing that quality entertainment improves the experience and builds brand loyalty.

For example, Steward Health Care System in Boston, with more than 2,000 beds, has invested more than $850 million in technology, including enhancements to the entertainment experience to promote a more home-like environment. The investment is paying off. Steward reported $30 million in savings in the Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) program in the first three years. The hospital system is on the leading edge of making the ACO model work in Massachusetts by delivering better care at lower costs, and making sure the patient experience is convenient and comfortable.

“Patients look for amenities that provide the comforts of their home while away from home,” says Scott Kenyon, vice president of Environmental Management, Corporate Real Estate and Facilities. “Starting in their rooms, patients have the ability to access gaming consoles through the Samsung healthcare televisions and now we have introduced the ability for these patients to view their favorite TV shows and movies in high definition. We are generating an exceptional patient experience that combines social media and HDTV while fostering a new brand image for the hospital.”

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CONNECT for Health Act of 2016,licensure,Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015,reimbursement,Slalom Consulting,teleconsultation,Telehealth,Telehealth Enhancement Act of 2015,telemedicine,Triple Aim,wearables

Telehealth: Why is it booming?

Dalia Haroune_Slalom Consulting_Photo_HighRes

Dalia A. Haroune, Solution Principal, Healthcare, Slalom Consulting

Sam Vadas_Slalom Consulting_Photo_HighRes

Samantha Vadas, Strategy Consultant, Slalom Consulting

The telehealth market is booming and expected to expand to over $30 billion globally by 2020, according to Modor Intelligence’s research. Its use cases are shifting from remote patient care through data sharing, to remote patient care and wellness through live interaction and teleconsultation. The industry is focusing on applications with proven effectiveness in care outcomes, as well as technologies that enable strategic and operational imperatives like cost savings, revenue growth, and improved patient experience.

Key areas of telehealth seeing this growth are real-time video consults, store and forward specialty consults (particularly between provider facilities using asynchronous transfer of data, images, sound or video), and remote patient monitoring. We’re also seeing an expansion in the care settings where telehealth is used and the champions that are driving its growth. Historically, the use of telehealth has been driven primarily by providers and used mostly in the hospital setting. More recently, we’ve seen applications of telehealth in ambulatory care clinics, doctors’ offices, long-term care facilities, the ER, and in the home. The emphasis on value-based care and the rise of consumerism are encouraging patients, employers, and payors to join providers in championing telehealth and the use of telehealth technology.

Telehealth has been around for decades, so why has it only recently experienced faster growth, adaption, and interest? These are the four main drivers:

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REACH Health,Telehealth,telemedicine,U.S. Telemedicine Benchmark Survey

A deep dive into telemedicine goals and challenges: Part one

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Steve McGraw, Chief Executive Officer, REACH Health

In a rapidly changing U.S. healthcare market, telemedicine programs have proven successful in enabling better care for a larger population of patients. But in the case of any maturing industry, telemedicine is in the midst of an evolution, where technologies and processes are adapting to the needs of clinicians who are increasingly comfortable with remote care.

We started the annual U.S. Telemedicine Benchmark Survey to take an objective look at  how the industry was evolving and what was driving those changes. Each year, we spend months surveying healthcare executives, physicians and nurses across the U.S. about their telemedicine priorities, goals and challenges. The survey results provide a real-world look at the state of U.S. telemedicine, the opportunities for better patient care and the challenges that need to be overcome to get there.

In a series of upcoming articles, I will walk through the findings of the 2016 U.S. Telemedicine Benchmark Survey and discuss what exactly they mean for hospitals, clinicians and patients.

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AHIMA,American Health Information Management Association,cyberattacks,EHRs,Electronic Health Records,patient engagement

The future of healthcare: Three predictions from AHIMA 2016

Perry Price, President, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Revation Systems

In an industry that is constantly evolving, it’s critical for doctors, nurses and health information technicians to anticipate the issues and trends that are going to have the greatest impact on healthcare in the future.

Significant developments in digital technology over the past decade have turned the healthcare industry upside down, and professionals in health informatics (HI) and health information management (HIM) are preparing for changes that will shape the next 10 years. With the goal of digital transformation in sight, the healthcare industry must make sure that business processes continue to evolve to meet the demands of consumers — especially in this age of hyper-connectivity. 

This is why healthcare leaders across the U.S. gathered in Baltimore for the annual American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Conference in October. After four days of open discussion and collaboration among HIM professionals, three themes emerged as the future of healthcare: security, integration of patient data via electronic health records (EHRs) and virtualization of patient engagement.

Data security will be less of a concern

While the security and privacy of patient data has always been top of mind for healthcare professionals, the recent shift to EHRs has intensified security concerns. However, though recent cyberattacks have raised some apprehension around storing confidential patient data electronically, the future of data security is looking bright.

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Avizia,EHRs,HL7,Telehealth,“Closing the Telehealth Gap”

The EHR and telehealth: A bright future

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Shawn Farrell, Vice President of Customer Engagement, Avizia

The electronic health record (EHR) is the primary workflow hub for nearly every clinician, and it is a central part of their daily routine.

EHRs store medical information and create a comprehensive patient history that can be easily shared by all providers involved in a patient’s care. It is clear that EHRs improve patient safety and overall quality of care by tracking health information over time, reduce the likelihood of medication errors and harmful drug interactions, eliminate duplicate testing, enable faster and more accurate diagnoses, and improve treatment plans. EHRs also help clinicians identify patients who are due for preventive visits or screenings, identify and manage high risk patients, and measure how patients compare against certain quality benchmarks. While it is a topic of heated debate, many believe that EHRs have made the practice of medicine more efficient by reducing some paperwork and automating some workflows[1].

According to Avizia’s 2016 research report, “Closing the Telehealth Gap” 72 percent of hospitals indicate that they are using telehealth. However, the vast majority of those respondents are not offering telehealth services through their EHR, but delivering them via a separate application or solution. This is not unusual, since telehealth is a rapidly evolving modality of care that has only recently become mainstream, and EHR vendors are known for being “fast followers”, not “first movers” when it comes to innovation.

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Avizia,EHR,electronic health record,HL7,Telehealth

The EHR and telehealth: A bright future

The electronic health record (EHR) is the primary workflow hub for nearly every clinician, and it is a central part of their daily routine.

EHRs store medical information and create a comprehensive patient history that can be easily shared by all providers involved in a patient’s care. It is clear that EHRs improve patient safety and overall quality of care by tracking health information over time, reduce the likelihood of medication errors and harmful drug interactions, eliminate duplicate testing, enable faster and more accurate diagnoses, and improve treatment plans. EHRs also help clinicians identify patients who are due for preventive visits or screenings, identify and manage high risk patients, and measure how patients compare against certain quality benchmarks. While it is a topic of heated debate, many believe that EHRs have made the practice of medicine more efficient by reducing some paperwork and automating some workflows [1].

According to Avizia’s 2016 research report, “Closing the Telehealth Gap” 72 percent of hospitals indicate that they are using telehealth. However, the vast majority of those respondents are not offering telehealth services through their EHR, but delivering them via a separate application or solution. This is not unusual, since telehealth is a rapidly evolving modality of care that has only recently become mainstream, and EHR vendors are known for being “fast followers”, not “first movers” when it comes to innovation.

Today, most EHRs and telehealth systems integrate data, transporting patient demographic, financial, medical and visit information back and forth between systems using protocols like HL7. Unfortunately, most EHR and telehealth platforms maintain unique dialects of the HL7 language, so it takes armies of expensive programmers to build and maintain those data “handshakes” between the systems. Even when these linkages exist, providers and patients are often asked to enter duplicate information in both systems, which slows down the process of care, creates inefficiency, introduces the possibility of data entry error, and creates confusion around what is the true source of data on a patient. For example, during a virtual visit, a patient may forget to add a medication to their list, or type in the wrong dosage.  Or the clinician may need to simultaneously open up the EHR to review a patient’s medication history or lab results. After a patient visit, a clinician may need to document the encounter twice — once in the telehealth platform so it can be seen by the patient, and again in the EHR so it can be part of the longitudinal medical record.

These redundancies and inefficiencies create a fragmented experience for both providers and patients, and are often cited as reasons why they are hesitant to adopt these new technologies. In fact, in Avizia’s research report, hospital executives cited clinician resistance as the main barrier to telehealth adoption.

Moving telehealth toward the future

Today, Avizia is streamlining the process for securely exchanging information between our telehealth solution and every EHR in the marketplace.  Through strategic integration partnerships with companies like Redox Healthcare, Kno2, LifeIMAGE and Ambra Health, Avizia is redefining how systems talk to each other, reducing the time to implementation from months to weeks, and in some cases to days.  We support every data integration type (including FHIR) with every EHR in the market place. As a result of these partnerships, critical data flows more freely between the systems, so providers and patients don’t need to re-enter data, saving valuable time and reducing the risk of data entry errors. 

The future of EHRs and telehealth starts now

With telehealth on the cusp of becoming commonplace, providers today unfortunately must still live in two systems when delivering virtual care. With so many health systems beginning to embrace virtual care, it is increasingly important for the delivery of telehealth services to be deeply integrated into EHRs.

Avizia is committed to improving the way EHRs and related clinical systems integrate together to improve the telehealth clinical workflow.  For those of you old enough (or wise enough!) to remember Intel’s famous “Intel Inside” branding strategy of the 1990s, Avizia is on a mission to become the “Avizia Inside” platform solution for EHR-based telehealth. Our vision is a bold yet humble one; to be the biggest and best telehealth company on the planet.  We are presently working with a handful of mutual customers and select major EHR companies to set the new standard for seamless telehealth workflow integration.

With an established reputation as a “first mover” and innovator in the telehealth industry, today Avizia powers the telehealth programs of eight of the top ten integrated delivery networks in the US, and our software, secure mobile applications, and hardware are used by over 400 clients in 36 countries around the globe.  In Avizia, EHR companies will find a strong partner leveraging robust API libraries, software development kits (SDKs) and integration “gateways” to quickly deliver cutting edge virtual health solutions to their customers.  The resulting partnership will streamline the process of delivering virtual care, and improve the experience for both patients and providers.

Whether they are performing a peer-to-peer specialty consultation or an unscheduled consumer-based virtual visit, clinicians won’t need to operate in multiple systems.  They will have immediate access to a comprehensive view of a patient’s medical history, leading to faster, more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans – which will ultimately lower the cost of care and drive better patient outcomes. They will see the telehealth appointment on their daily calendar or receive an alert on their mobile device for an urgent consult request; they can review the patient’s chart and launch the visit all from within their EHR. Once the visit is complete, the provider can document their findings in the EHR and bill through the EHR’s revenue cycle management modules.

Patients will have the convenience of a virtual visit, and an experience that highlights the best characteristics of an in-person or “brick-and-mortar” office visit (e.g. face to face time with your provider) while removing all the worst characteristics of those dreaded visits (e.g. missing work or school, dealing with traffic, expensive parking, long waits in the waiting room sitting beside another sick patient). Patients can seamlessly access the Avizia platform via their health system’s own portal, schedule future virtual visits or conduct an urgent visit, upload pertinent information and update their health data as needed.  They can pay their copay online, and the Avizia solution analyzes their internet connectivity strength and their camera and audio sources to ensure they are working properly. Once the virtual visit is complete, their visit notes and care instructions are available for download, and their prescriptions are sent automatically to their chosen pharmacy. 

With the Avizia-enabled, EHR integrated platform, detailed operational data is collected on every telehealth visit. By combining this operational data with other demographic, clinical, financial, and contractual data sources, Avizia’s robust data analytics platform will give executives, telehealth program managers and clinical teams tremendous insights into program performance.  These insights support a variety of clinical performance and quality improvement initiatives, patient and provider satisfaction initiatives, program marketing and promotional efforts, return on investment (ROI) analyses, business development activities, and payer contract negotiations.

Take your first step

As you evaluate and select a telehealth platform, assess whether your telehealth solution partner understands what it takes to ensure program success.  Do they offer just technology, or do they support the change management approach that is necessary to deliver a successful telehealth program? Be sure they can support an enterprise approach across multiple specialties and locations of care (e.g. ED, NICU, Post Acute Care, Clinic, Home) and can scale up as your clinical and business needs evolve. And be sure they don’t require you to “rip and replace” systems, but maximize any investments you’ve already made in your enterprise systems, whether that be your EHR or your videoconferencing platform. And finally, work with a telehealth solution partner who is committed to rolling up their sleeves and working alongside your various internal teams and your EHR vendor to deliver a solution that both your providers and your patients will be excited to use every day.

[1] https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/medical-practice-efficiencies-cost-savings#footnote-1

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patient referrals,patient satisfaction,REACH Health,Telehealth,telemedicine

A deep dive into telemedicine goals and challenges: Part three

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Steve McGraw, Chief Executive Officer, REACH Health

In Part Two of our series, we discussed telemedicine objectives, keys to program success and the biggest telehealth-related challenges facing healthcare organizations. The information was gleaned from the annual U.S. Telemedicine Benchmark Survey, which compiled insights from hundreds of healthcare executives, physicians and nurses across the U.S.

Today, we’re going to explore the survey findings on the top contributors for reaching return on investment (ROI) with telemedicine programs and look at the maturity status of U.S. programs by care setting and and service line.

Key contributors to telemedicine ROI   

With the healthcare industry striving to find ways to improve patient care while simultaneously lowering costs, telemedicine has been examined as a means to help organizations achieve this ambitious goal. But with any investment comes great pressure to prove ROI.

Benchmark survey respondents shared the key contributors to ROI for their telemedicine programs and the top five results included:

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EMR systems,REACH Health,reimbursement,Telehealth,telemedicine,U.S. Telemedicine Benchmark Survey

A deep dive into telemedicine goals and challenges: Part two

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Steve McGraw, Chief Executive Officer, REACH Health

In Part One of our series, we took a look at the evolution of the telemedicine industry and discussed findings from the annual U.S. Telemedicine Benchmark Survey. Two key findings: nearly two-thirds of respondents said telemedicine was a top priority, and providers are rapidly expanding the number of service lines offered.

Today, we’re going to look closely at what healthcare organizations hope to achieve with telemedicine, key factors to make those goals a reality and the overall challenges within the industry.

Telemedicine objectives: It’s all about the patients

Among survey participants, including executives, physicians and nurses, the most common telemedicine objectives focused on patients. Improving patient outcomes (96 percent), improving patient convenience (87 percent) and increasing patient engagement and satisfaction (86 percent) occupied the top three positions.

With the healthcare industry’s focus on improving patient care and hospitals in competitive geographies vying for patients, perhaps these results are not surprising. Here’s how other objectives broke out:

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