Amwell Online Doctor, 24 Hour Urgent Care 2020-07-14T00:50:11Z https://business.amwell.com/feed/atom/ WordPress ray.hainer <![CDATA[The 2020 Amwell Client Awards]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10948 2020-07-14T00:50:11Z 2020-07-13T12:00:46Z Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Amwell Client Awards! As we do each year, the Amwell team has selected from a highly competitive field of clients those who stand out for their innovation and achievement in telehealth. Our clients are an endless source of inspiration for us, and we conceived these awards six years […]

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 Amwell Client Awards!

As we do each year, the Amwell team has selected from a highly competitive field of clients those who stand out for their innovation and achievement in telehealth.

Our clients are an endless source of inspiration for us, and we conceived these awards six years ago to share their success stories and spur the entire telehealth ecosystem to new heights.

The effort and dedication these awards represent are especially meaningful to us this year. At a time of tremendous stress and uncertainty for our healthcare system and our nation as a whole, the health plans and health systems recognized in the four categories below have shown exceptional vision and leadership in scaling virtual care and improving health outcomes for individuals and communities.

This year, we’ve added a special fifth category, Pandemic Activation & Acceleration, to recognize the heroic efforts of our clients during COVID-19. Amid the unprecedented challenges brought on by the virus and the need for social distancing, Amwell clients have risen to the occasion — and then some. In their own way, in their own communities, each of the organizations included in this category has gone above and beyond in their response to the pandemic.

Clinical Impact

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic continues to be a model of provider engagement. With more than 1,000 providers utilizing its Express Care Online platform in 2019 alone, Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to integrating telehealth into the way it delivers care has served as an example for health systems across the country. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the health system saw an unprecedented surge in virtual care. At the height of the outbreak, virtual visits represented 65% to 75% of ambulatory care, up from just 2% pre-COVID-19. The health system also saw a 10-15x increase in on-demand virtual visits during the pandemic. To meet this surge in demand, Cleveland Clinic leveraged both its providers who were already active on the platform, and also trained more than 350 primary care providers — many of whom were temporarily redeployed due to the virus — on telehealth.  During weeks of peak volume, more than 2,500 Cleveland Clinic providers from primary care and specialty departments provided virtual visits to their patients.

Indiana University Health

Only three of the 17 hospitals in the IU Health system had access to 24/7 psychiatric care at the beginning of 2019. Patients presenting with psychiatric or substance use disorders often needed to be transferred. Similarly, peer recovery coaches were only available at two hospitals. By 2020, IU Health had launched on-demand virtual psychiatry assessments in the ED and a virtual peer recovery program, going live in 14 hospitals in less than 100 days. In the first six months of the program, the system performed more than 1,600 ED psychiatric assessments — resulting in 700 avoided transfers — and more than 700 peer recovery coach visits.

During COVID-19, IU Health launched a Virtual Screening Clinic one day after the first person tested positive in the state.  A comprehensive virtual plan was put in place to offer screening, testing, and monitoring, as well as a plan to help employees safely return to work. Following the initial explosive growth of virtual urgent care visits, IU quickly pivoted to focus on virtual scheduled visits as patient demand shifted. The health system had conducted more than 40,000 COVID-19 virtual screenings through May, adjusting and changing protocols frequently to align with new guidance from the CDC.

M Health Fairview

M Health Fairview (MHF) went live with a telestrokepilot program in 2018. After a successful launch, MHF identified the opportunity to integrate telestroke into the Epic EHR via Context-Aware Linking (CAL), which streamlined the workflow and enabled providers to practice telemedicine from within their standard EHR workflow. After the telestroke program became a standard of care, MHF partnered with Amwell to bring video spotlight capabilities to the clinical platform, allowing the provider to keep the patient as the prominent view even as multiple providers joined the consult. MHF’s telestroke program has expanded to multiple spoke locations and continues to grow.

During COVID-19, Fairview is seeing more than 2,000 patients per day through its CAL integration within the Amwell Patient Portal (this implementation was coined Amwell 1.5). This implementation includes integration with M Health’s patient portal and provider mobile application.  The health system performed both scheduled and on-demand visits, and added Amwell telemedicine hubs at two locations for patients needing mental health and addiction therapy. Planning is underway to expand this service to Catholic Charities, an MHF community partner that serves Downtown St. Paul.

Engagement Excellence

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) has partnered with Amwell since 2016, expanding to an enterprise platform, Blue Cross Online Visits, in 2018. Since launch, the health plan has seen nearly 17X growth in telehealth registrations and 16X growth in visits. In 2019, 52% of BCBSM virtual visits replaced emergency room and urgent care center visits, equating to promising cost savings. The health plan has developed and executed significant strategies and campaigns to boost adoption and use, including worksite engagement programs, paid search, social, SMS/text, and other targeted direct-to-member campaigns. During COVID-19, BCBSM offered virtual visits at no cost to all members and engaged employers to increase its telehealth-eligible member population to include approximately 300,000 new lives.

Gundersen Health System

With the arrival of COVID-19, Gundersen Health System needed to rapidly ramp up its telehealth platform. In just a few weeks, Gundersen nearly quintupled its typical pre-pandemic visit volume. As the health system continues to operate in the “new normal” of the pandemic, it is focused on expanding into new specialties and programs to build on its already impressive telehealth success. Gundersen is currently on pace to greatly exceed the first-year telehealth utilization benchmark for rural health systems, and is on track to meet the utilization levels typically seen with rural or urban hospitals after two years of telehealth deployment and engagement.

Nemours Children’s Health System

Nemours Children’s Health System, using the Amwell Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK), has developed a robust, parent-friendly mobile experience designed to put the best of Nemours pediatric care at their fingertips. The Nemours app provides useful features tailored to each patient and custom tools for chronic disease management, like the one-of-a-kind asthma tracker. Parents can also use the app to access their child’s health records, view test results, have scheduled or on-demand video visits, and more. Nemours is committed to developing tools that help parents keep their kids healthy and make quality pediatric healthcare accessible to all families. Nemours has also partnered with Amwell’s Engagement Services team to actively promote their telehealth program, Nemours CareConnect.

Verizon

A strong, ongoing partnership between Verizon, Anthem, and the health plan’s telehealth offering, LiveHealth Online (LHO), has resulted in Verizon exceeding its telehealth registration goals two years in a row. The company had nearly 47,000 telehealth registrations by end of May 2020. An effective assisted enrollment campaign, employee-facing webinars, a strong LHO presence at “Be Well, Work Well” live and virtual events, and biannual registration email campaigns all contributed to this registration success. Verizon also authored an “About You” series chronicling the adventures and misadventures of two characters and how their use of LHO “saves the day.” The company has also seen impressive growth in telehealth utilization, with behavioral health visits increasing 83% and breastfeeding support visits increasing 63%.

Verizon further demonstrated its commitment to engagement excellence during the COVID-19 crisis. As the virus began to spread across the United States, Verizon expanded the LiveHealth Online benefit to its associate (union) employees and pre-Medicare retirees. Compared to the same period in 2019, Verizon’s LHO utilization for January to May 2020 increased by 107% for behavioral health visits, 72% for medical visits, and 21% for breastfeeding support visits.

Leadership Alignment

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

In early 2019, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) launched their enterprise telehealth program, BlueCare Anywhere, by initially offering virtual medical and behavioral health services to 250,000 members.  Since then, the health plan has seen 96% growth in its eligible members, almost doubling the number of members eligible for BlueCare Anywhere.  Not only has BCBSAZ demonstrated impressive growth, they have shown aligned leadership through their vision for a healthy Arizona. The health plan is committed to the inclusion of all its members, which it has demonstrated by offering telehealth to its Medicare Advantage members, launching a Medico (Spanish) practice, and developing a marketing strategy for digital worksite clinics. All these collective efforts are driven by the health plan’s vision of making digital care available to not only its entire membership, but to Arizonans at large. Further demonstrating its leadership, during COVID-19 BCBSAZ offered telehealth for free and made it available to an additional 60,000 Medicare Advantage members and 20,000 ASO group employees, resulting in a 148% increase in telehealth enrollments and a 176 percent increase in visits.

Children’s Health in Dallas

Leadership and key stakeholders of Children’s Health in Dallas quickly and systematically came together in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From January to March 18, 2020, the health system conducted approximately 1,000 virtual care visits. However, from March 19 to June 22, Children’s Health did nearly 25,000 virtual visits. The health system saw a nearly 6X increase in on-demand visits, and a 16X increase in ambulatory (scheduled) virtual visits. During this time, the health system trained more than 1,200 providers, 900 nurses, and 260 clinical staff on virtual visits. Children’s Health, which has a robust school-based telehealth program leveraging Amwell carepoints, had its partner schools loan hospitals these carepoints to quickly build needed COVID-19 divisions. Through thoughtful leadership, Children’s Health expedited credentialing, created automated training, incorporated telehealth into patient discovery, and implemented virtual rounding for bedside telemedicine.

Penn State Health

Penn State Health enhanced its telehealth program in response to COVID-19, a feat that required leadership alignment at the highest levels of the organization. The commitment from leadership was not simply a response to the pandemic, but rather the latest iteration of a long-term strategy to make virtual care a priority across the organization moving forward.  Clinical, technical, operational, and executive leadership continue to work diligently to ensure the health system is well-positioned to meet the evolving needs of its internal and external stakeholders. This commitment has led to the introduction of several new telehealth initiatives and programs that compliment Penn State Health’s mission of enhancing the quality of life through improved health, the professional preparation of those who will serve the health needs of others, and the discovery of knowledge that will benefit all. Penn State is a shining example of the change that can occur when leadership is aligned and committed to these values in the work they do every day.

Community Innovation and Activation

Centurion Health

Centurion Health works with a large state department of corrections to provide psychiatry services and specialty consults to its incarcerated population across 10 statewide prison complexes. These telehealth visits help supplement in-person visits and increase the availability of healthcare services to an underserved population. Since launching the program in July 2019, Centurion has conducted more than 15,000 virtual visits for in-state patients, with even higher utilization expected in 2020.

NewYork-Presbyterian

NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP), in partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine and ColumbiaDoctors, goes above and beyond to provide excellent care to all the communities and populations in its ecosystem. Through telehealth, NewYork-Presbyterian has been able to launch multiple teleconsults programs across its 10 hospitals and communities. During COVID-19 the system stood up eICU and tele-isolation (where patients in isolation can communicate remotely with their care team). NewYork-Presbyterian has expanded access to high-quality care by pushing the boundaries of how telehealth is used inside and outside hospital walls. As part of its COVID-19 response, NewYork-Presbyterian expanded access to urgent care by offering low cost virtual visits, and expanded access to therapy, follow-up care, and workforce safety through virtual scheduled visits. The health system leveraged C250 carts — mobile telehealth stands with cameras and displays that bring remote physicians to the patient — within its hospitals in isolation rooms and within the ED to reduce the use of personal protective equipment and create nurse-free care models. Through its combined efforts, NewYork-Presbyterian has conducted more than 50,000 virtual visits on Amwell technology this year, and has more than doubled the number of providers using the technology.


Anthem Inc.

While still in the early days of the pandemic, Anthem encouraged the use of LiveHealth Online, Anthem’s telehealth platform, as a safe and effective way for members of its affiliated health plans to access care, and also waived member cost shares for virtual visits on LiveHealth Online as well as from Anthem’s network providers. Working with Amwell, Anthem also doubled provider capacity to significantly reduce wait times. Anthem also accelerated the integration of LiveHealth Online within Sydney Care through the use of Amwell’s Software Development Kit (SDK) and enabled an AI-driven symptom checker to include a COVID-19 assessment. Through this rapid and forward-thinking response, Anthem has surpassed more than a million lifetime virtual visits through LiveHealth Online while also covering more than 14 million virtual health visits between March and June 2020 within Anthem’s own provider network.

Ascension

Ascension successfully enrolled and onboarded thousands of Ascension Medical Group partners in a short amount of time at the beginning of COVID-19. The team quickly created a virtual care training site for Ascension providers, and ran a daily provider support line. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ascension providers conducted nearly 33,000 visits in a single month.

Augusta University Health

Augusta University Health’s innovative telehealth strategy became a cornerstone of its response to COVID-19. At the onset of the pandemic, AU Health worked diligently to implement and deploy its virtual COVID-19 screening program. The health system also transitioned in-person care into virtual visits, rolling out telehealth at 35 ambulatory clinic sites and training 1,150 providers on its virtual platform. By the end of April, the health system had conducted more than 12,300 virtual care screenings. In addition, AU Health partnered with the Georgia Department of Public Health to schedule COVID-19 tests resulting from virtual screenings.

Baptist Health South Florida

At the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, Baptist Health South Florida proactively prepared for the pandemic and offered free virtual urgent care visits to the community to ensure community access, limited exposure, and decompressed in-person visits to help flatten the initial curve. To meet the drastic increase in screening visits, Baptist Health ramped up the number of its own providers on the app, with over 415 trained in just two weeks. The health system also added an additional 11 practices to the telehealth app, which now offers patients services ranging from urgent and cancer care to cardiology and neurosurgery consults. Baptist Health implemented several enhancements to improve delivery of care, including leveraging internal pharmacists and redeployed staff to ensure local care was delivered with limited interruption. The added volume generated nearly a 10X increase in total visits from the early weeks of 2020 to the peak week of COVID-19 in April. As evidenced by the large amount of community support and positive feedback, Baptist Health Care On Demand made a significant impact on the community and continues to do so in this time of need.

BayCare Health System

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, BayCare onboarded over 500 providers to their telehealth platform in a matter of days to help prepare for widespread closures of the brick-and-mortar practices throughout their network. In order to prepare for this, BayCare team members worked tirelessly to train and support providers and staff during this transition. Collectively, BayCare providers have offered over 50,000 virtual visits to patients over the past five months, spanning several specialties and clinical disciplines. In line with their mission to “improve the health of all we serve through community-owned services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care,” BayCare continues to position their telehealth service BayCareAnywhere as an access point to patients seeking care during these challenging times.

Dignity Health

The Dignity Health telebehavioral health program is specifically designed to maintain access to assessments and evaluations in a potential COVID-19 environment. Through telemedicine, county mental health workers and hospital social workers were able to conduct behavioral health assessments from home without being physically located in hospitals. This allowed for timely evaluations while saving personal protective equipment (PPE) and reducing exposure. From January to May of 2020, Dignity Health conducted more than 3,740 telebehavioral consultations, and enabled hundreds of additional encounters for off site behavioral health personnel. The health system also extended its telehealth technology to departments and personnel that had otherwise not used the telehealth to help with a surge in COVID patients, thus exposing new healthcare professionals to the benefits of telehealth and promoting the future of the industry.

Hawai’i Medical Service Association (HMSA)

HMSA‘s response to the COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies what it means to make members the highest priority in healthcare. As soon as HMSA noticed that an increase in member demand for its virtual health platform, HMSA’s Online Care, was leading to longer wait times, it immediately began training and onboarding more providers.

HMSA brought an additional 500 medical and behavioral health care providers to HMSA’s Online Care. It also mobilized a local customer service team to provide better support to providers and patients. HMSA updated its website with information about telehealth and used email and other channels to educate members about their benefits. Through its response, HMSA saw a 271% increase in virtual visits from March to May and cut the average wait time for patients by more than half.

Houston Methodist

Based in Houston, Texas (one of the country’s COVID-19 hotspots), Houston Methodist has leveraged its virtual program to meet the clinical needs in the Houston metropolitan area. These needs spanned the care continuum — urgent care, primary care, specialist consults, and care in the ER and ICU environments throughout all system hospitals. Using a mixed model of Houston Methodist and Amwell Medical Group providers, Houston Methodist has seen a steady increase in virtual urgent care visit volume, averaging over 2,300 visits in the last 2 weeks. Importantly, Houston Methodist has experienced a nearly 600% increase in visit growth compared to this time last year. Houston Methodist continues to invest and rapidly scale its virtual care capabilities to support the needs of its community during the pandemic.

Intermountain Healthcare

Very rapidly, Intermountain Healthcare responded to the COVID-19 crisis by shifting nearly all of the health system’s visit volume to virtual care. The health system went from conducting roughly 1,000 virtual on-demand visits per week to nearly 20,000 virtual on-demand and scheduled visits per week. Intermountain also developed a robust strategy to care for potential COVID-19 patients, integrating virtual care into that strategy to triage for testing and conduct at-home monitoring.

MetroPlus Health Plan

MetroPlusHealth launched a new telehealth program to over 500,000 members in the middle of a pandemic while being located in New York City, the epicenter of the country’s COVID-19 crisis.  On March 23rd, the health plan implemented its urgent care telehealth program, followed quickly by the implementation of its therapy and psychiatry programs on April 1st.  MetroPlusHealth launched these programs early to provide critical access to care for their New York City-based membership, which was greatly impacted by the pandemic. The health plan leveraged an innovative multichannel engagement campaign — which included email, direct mail, SMS text, and IVR calls — to quickly inform members of the new benefit and educate them on telehealth.

Midland Health

When COVID-19 began to spread, Midland Health quickly transitioned its telehealth program from solely urgent and primary care visits to all specialties. The health system rapidly converted typical in-person visits to virtual care to prevent the risk of virus exposure. It was important to Midland Health System that all its providers utilized its established telehealth solution instead of adopting non-HIPAA-compliant technology to conduct virtual visits — something that they believe will benefit their long-term telehealth provider engagement. During the pandemic, the health system went from conducting roughly 30 virtual visits per month to more than 2,000.

Naval Hospital Jacksonville

In March 2020, as COVID-19 began to impact the nation, virtual care became a critical part of Naval Hospital Jacksonville‘s response to the pandemic. The health system’s long-standing efforts to encourage virtual care — through a program known as Navy Care — proved to be a valuable asset during COVID-19, leading to a dramatic increase in Navy Care use. In April, Naval Hospital Jacksonville enrolled more than 5,900 patients and conducted more than 3,000 telehealth encounters. In a single day in April, Naval Hospital Jacksonville performed 50% of the virtual visits completed in all of March. Patient enrollment in Navy Care has tripled during the pandemic, to 21,000. While COVID-19 accelerated patient adoption of Navy Care, it also impacted provider use, which increased by 104% between February and April 2020.

Norman Regional Health System

Norman Regional Health System needed to quickly activate telehealth to provide ongoing care to their patient base during the pandemic. In just 72 hours, Norman Regional onboarded nearly 200 providers and 20 practices to its virtual health platform, enabling a dramatic increase in scheduled virtual visits. In April 2020, Norman Regional saw a 4x month-over-month increase in the total visit count, 3x increase in scheduled visits, and more than doubled their daily average of on-demand virtual visits. Virtual health helped Norman Regional Health System adapt to new and uncertain conditions and ultimately continue operations during the pandemic.

Northwell Health

As New York’s largest healthcare provider, Northwell Health found itself at the epicenter of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak. In response, the organization incorporated virtual care into its large-scale pandemic response, integrating more than 65 departments into the scheduled visit workflow and increasing provider adoption by nearly 900%. The health system saw in incredible increase in telehealth visit volumes during the pandemic, going from roughly 150 virtual visits per month to more than 3,000 virtual visits per day.

Nuvance Health

As COVID-19 began to spread across the country, Nuvance Health in Connecticut and New York State recognized the need to quickly and thoughtfully scale up its scheduled virtual visit program to meet patient demand. In a matter of days, the health system grew its program from roughly 10 providers to more than 1,000 across the organization’s newly merged HealthQuest and Western Connecticut Health Network system organizations. Year-to-date scheduled visits are nearly 90,000 and continue to grow at a significant pace.

Ochsner Health

Ochsner Health heavily integrated telehealth into their COVID-19 response. Ochsner quickly converted four urgent care clinics into completely virtual COVID-19 clinics. Utilizing their own provider network in Louisiana and the Gulf South states, Ochsner Health was able to train hundreds of providers on virtual visits so they could leverage Ochsner’s telehealth app, Ochsner Anywhere Care, for patient care. Since March, Ochsner has completed over 150,000 virtual visits. The health system also developed a comprehensive Safe to Return service plan and resource toolkit that empowers employer groups to feel comfortable and confident about transitioning employees back to work and interacting with the community again. More than 70 local employers are already leveraging Ochsner’s virtual employer clinics to create a safe and healthy workplace for both employees and customers. Ochsner’s goal is to continue to support employer groups to help minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and ensure everyone can work safely in the “new normal.”

OU Medicine

Pre-COVID-19, OU Medicine, Oklahoma’s most comprehensive academic health system, had a modest telehealth program in place that consisted of some primary care services, post-op visits, and a virtual pain management clinic. Since COVID-19, the health system’s virtual strategy has seen unprecedented acceleration. OU Medicine has built out its internal telehealth team, onboarded more than 800 providers across all specialties, and conducted more than 25,000 virtual visits since March. Rather than wait for a perfect implementation, OU decided to deploy quickly and iterate — a decision that was key to its success.

Southwest Medical Associates and Health Plan of Nevada

The strong partnership between Health Plan of Nevada (HPN) and Southwest Medical Associates (SMA) and their long-time commitment to telehealth and telehealth expansion set the stage for 50,000 virtual visits to be completed so far in 2020, surpassing the total volume for all of last year. While HPN waived member co-pays and cost shares and initiated significant outreach to drive patients to this innovative platform, SMA enrolled more than 600 providers in a variety of specialties, including primary care, pediatrics, OB-GYN, and rheumatology. SMA leveraged both on-demand and scheduled virtual visits to better care for its patients in Nevada and Utah and supported more than six partner Optum organizations in quickly launching a telehealth program.

Trinity Health

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trinity Health rapidly scaled up provider usage of its telehealth platform, onboarding more than 2,000 providers in a short period of time. These providers leveraged Trinity Health’s direct-to-patient context-aware linking integration to conduct scheduled virtual visits with patients within Trinity’s Epic EHR platform in its Michigan Regional Health Ministry locations. Further expansion of Trinity’s virtual scheduled visit capability within Epic is planned throughout other Regional Health Ministries later this year and throughout 2021.

UAB Medicine

UAB Medicine leveraged its established, unified telehealth platform that spans both ambulatory and inpatient settings to better care for patients during the pandemic. The single sign-on capability allowed the health system to deploy telehealth broadly and rapidly across its provider base, enabling them to train 2,200 providers on telehealth in a very short period. UAB Medicine leveraged Amwell’s Hospital platform to conduct scheduled visits with patients on the ambulatory side, which remains 41% of their total ambulatory volume. Furthermore, UAB delivers inpatient care by using telemedicine carts in emergency departments and inpatient wards for critical care, stroke, infectious diseases, nephrology, and general neurology. Telehealth has allowed UAB to better protect patients and providers, conserve personal protective equipment, and involve remote family in palliative care even as patients remained isolated.

UNC Health

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNC Health quickly expanded it telehealth services by leveraging virtual care for a myriad of ambulatory use cases, including family medicine, occupational therapy, social work, and gastroenterology. The UNC Health telehealth team made this rapid growth possible by training and operationalizing scheduled visit workflows with Epic + Amwell context-aware linking. In a matter of days, the health system went from 200 providers using telehealth to 2,200 providers. This quick expansion translated into a 27,740% growth of virtual visits volumes in 2020.

Wellstar Health System

Wellstar leveraged its existing telehealth technology used for inpatient care and expanded it across the enterprise, broadening inpatient virtual care programs and creating new virtual ambulatory care programs. In just four weeks — a rollout schedule nearly a full year faster than originally planned — the majority of Wellstar’s providers were leveraging telehealth, and within six weeks they had executed 50K visits. The expansion included deploying tablets in each of the health system’s intensive care units (ICUs) and COVID/PUI Units to allow physicians to have virtual face-to-face conversations with patients and their families, and accelerating the use of an on-demand telehealth program, WellstarON. Along with the rapid technology deployment, Wellstar developed a multimedia educational program for all providers and a streamlined billing system to encourage adoption.

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ray.hainer <![CDATA[Amwell: Where We Advertise]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10932 2020-06-30T23:40:38Z 2020-06-30T23:36:25Z As part of our broader marketing strategy, Amwell works to drive awareness and understanding of telehealth — helping people to access high-quality care when and where they need it. While our efforts to inform and educate consumers about virtual care continues across many diverse channels, we believe it is important to pause our spend with […]

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As part of our broader marketing strategy, Amwell works to drive awareness and understanding of telehealth — helping people to access high-quality care when and where they need it. While our efforts to inform and educate consumers about virtual care continues across many diverse channels, we believe it is important to pause our spend with Facebook and Instagram in support of stopping unmonitored posts related to hate, violence and racism. At Amwell, we stand together with many in supporting equality and respect for all.

Amwell’s advertising policy is to seek to avoid publishers that:

  • Advocate violence,
  • Contain or promote hate speech,
  • Contain racist content,
  • Are sexually explicit in nature,
  • Are libelous/defamatory,
  • Promote false information / misinformation,
  • Promote gambling or facilitate online real money gambling,
  • Contain or cause downloading of malicious code,
  • Promote the use of illegal substances,
  • Are otherwise unlawful or illegal, or
  • Artificially increase impressions, click or engagement behavior for the purpose of increasing advertising revenue

While we understand that user-generated content is beyond the control of the publisher, we expect that publishers will use their best efforts to moderate and seek to prevent the circulation of racist, violent, or hateful content.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[The Big Unlock: How COVID-19 will Unlock a New Care Future]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10927 2020-06-29T17:36:05Z 2020-06-29T17:36:05Z I recently had the pleasure of representing Aligned Telehealth and our Amwell family at ‘The Big Unlock’ virtual event where we dove into the question: How will connected health technology change the future of healthcare? We were joined by Brian Scarpelli, Senior Policy Counsel, ACT, Dr. Wilson Wang, Founder & CEO, Walking Doctors, Dr. Joseph […]

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I recently had the pleasure of representing Aligned Telehealth and our Amwell family at ‘The Big Unlock’ virtual event where we dove into the question: How will connected health technology change the future of healthcare? We were joined by Brian Scarpelli, Senior Policy Counsel, ACT, Dr. Wilson Wang, Founder & CEO, Walking Doctors, Dr. Joseph Mcmenamin, Principal, Mcmenamin Law Offices, and Michael Thomas, CEO, Appian Partners. The goal of the conversation was not only to examine the changes brought on by COVID-19, but also to examine how these changes may impact the future of healthcare delivery.

As a geriatric psychiatrist by training, I’ve long been a believer that mental healthcare is one of the most deliverable specialties via telehealth.  I started Aligned Telehealth because I knew there had to be a better way for providers to access consumers who needed care. Today, we can provide a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation to patients 24/7. Our platform has reduced psych evaluation wait times from the national average of about 8-12 hours to 30-40 minutes. This means we’re able to not only take care of mental health patients but can also improve throughput and open up hospital beds for higher acuity patients. During COVID-19 when these beds were in short order, the ability to use telehealth to keep patients out of the ER or at least make their stay their shorter was critical.

Despite my beliefs of the value of telehealth for mental health patients long before the pandemic, COVID-19 has seemingly overnight increased the number of patients and providers who have and are willing to try virtual care. And today, more people than ever consider telehealth to be an acceptable and quicker way to access healthcare. So how will this impact how care is delivered for years to come? Here are my top three takeaways from our discussion during the event:

  1. Telehealth must integrate: When it comes to mental health specifically, few EHR systems can be embraced. This makes it difficult for providers to want to use the technology. Previously, we’ve taken a very hospital-centric approach to things like EHR integration, billing and coding but to continue sustaining telehealth growth we must take a more provider-centric approach to ensure it’s easy to use and works with their preferred systems.
  2. The mental health toll: The pandemic took a clear toll on the physical health of many Americans, but it’s the mental toll that I’m most worried about. Research shows that the number of individuals reporting symptoms of depression and anxiety are much higher than normal. We also know that those who suffer from mental health issues often have other comorbidities. At the same time, we lack the providers needed to be able to treat all those in need. Thanks to telehealth, mental health treatment can be a more regular part of a person’s healthcare experience, allowing them to access care wherever and whenever they need it.
  3. Regulation needs to continue to adapt to the increasing demand for care: There has been much debate regarding which elements of legislation waived during the pandemic will remain waived.  We know that many of these modifications have increased the delivery of quality mental healthcare and we feel strongly that they must remain in effect.  We must maintain the ability for psychiatric providers to deliver care across state lines, regardless of the originating site.  It is also critical for payors to continue to reimburse for care delivered in both rural and urban sites.  We know that lifting these legislative barriers has enabled providers to care for those who desperately need it, and will continue to increase access to mental healthcare in the future.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[How providers can fine-tune their ‘webside’ manner in the age of COVID-19]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10918 2020-06-24T18:56:30Z 2020-06-24T18:56:30Z When COVID-19 started spreading like wildfire in early March, no one realized how quickly we would be forced to adapt our lives and the traditional practice of medicine. While hospitals in hotspots struggled to stay afloat amid a surge of patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19, ambulatory providers found themselves upended from their routine patient encounters […]

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When COVID-19 started spreading like wildfire in early March, no one realized how quickly we would be forced to adapt our lives and the traditional practice of medicine.

While hospitals in hotspots struggled to stay afloat amid a surge of patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19, ambulatory providers found themselves upended from their routine patient encounters and had no choice but to adopt or at least consider telehealth.

In recent months, virtual visits have surged and are expected to exceed 200 million this year, much higher than projections.1 This growth is on pace with the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than 2.2 million U.S. residents, as of June 2020.2

This shift to telemedicine has forced many providers out of their comfortable office or hospital setting and into an unfamiliar digital world. With more patients using telehealth than ever before, even physicians with telehealth experience are finding it challenging to keep up with the demand brought on by COVID-19.

One thing hasn’t changed: the importance of the patient experience. Whether providing care in person or online, the patient experience and the quality of care delivered needs to be a priority. Yet, providing an optimal experience via telehealth requires different techniques than an in-person visit. Webside manner, the virtual equivalent of bedside manner, is not often taught, especially during times of crisis, yet it can make or break a patient’s virtual healthcare experience.

Click here to read more about what ‘webside manner’ is and tips for how providers can improve their ‘webside manner’ on MGMA.  

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ray.hainer <![CDATA[How Norman Regional Health System Leveraged Virtual Scheduled Visits During COVID-19]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10882 2020-06-15T19:55:43Z 2020-06-15T19:54:57Z Norman Regional Health System, a rural health system in Oklahoma, recognized that patients needed an easier way to get care while self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic. To provide that care, Norman Regional turned to virtual health. The health system greatly ramped up its telehealth offering, onboarding and training nearly 200 providers over the course of […]

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Norman Regional Health System, a rural health system in Oklahoma, recognized that patients needed an easier way to get care while self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic. To provide that care, Norman Regional turned to virtual health.

The health system greatly ramped up its telehealth offering, onboarding and training nearly 200 providers over the course of 72 hours. These efforts resulted in a drastic increase in virtual visits during the pandemic. Here’s a look at how the health system integrated telehealth into its COVID-19 response:

Prior to COVID-19

Norman Regional Health System had already partnered with Amwell on a telehealth initiative to increase healthcare access for rural areas before COVID-19. Given the geographical spread of Oklahoma, it was difficult for patients to easily access certain healthcare services. With the goal of addressing this lack of access in mind, Norman Regional started its telehealth initiative in February 2018, and in May of the following year, the health system expanded that initiative to include virtual specialty care.

Heading into 2020, Norman Regional was planning to add providers to its virtual scheduled visits platform. However, the emergence of COVID-19 accelerated those plans, leading the health system to massively expand and grow its virtual offerings in March 2020.

In the Midst of COVID-19

On March 17, Norman Regional’s leadership directed the telehealth team to get all primary care providers up and running on virtual care as soon as possible. The team immediately started creating provider accounts, enrolling staff and getting them set up on the platform over the next 24 hours.

By the morning of March 19, all Norman Regional primary care providers were using virtual care. By the week of March 23, all specialty providers were using telehealth, and by the end of the first week of April, ambulatory providers and rehabilitation services were up and running.

The telehealth team developed a comprehensive set of guidelines they rolled out to train key stakeholders at each of the health system’s locations. This “train the trainer” approach helped train providers faster, empowered them to find answers on their own and helped them feel confident in their usage of the virtual program.

The Results — and a Look at the Future

Norman Regional Health System went from having one specialist using telehealth in early March 2020, to having 173 specialists using it by the end of the month. In just a few weeks, Norman Regional stood up 19 active in-person clinics on its virtual care platform, creating a total of 22 virtual practices.

In April 2020, Normal Regional saw a fourfold month-over-month increase in the number of total virtual visits, and a threefold increase in the number of scheduled virtual visits. On-demand virtual visits also saw an increase during the pandemic, with the average daily visits more than doubling.

Given the results of these telehealth efforts, Norman Regional Health System is looking beyond COVID-19 and considering the future of virtual care at the organization. The health system hopes to expand its virtual care coverage to meet patients where they are — no matter how rural the area. The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated the organization’s telehealth plans, but Norman Regional has recognized the value of virtual care and changed how it approaches healthcare forever.

To learn more about how Norman Regional Health System quickly expanded its telehealth efforts and trained providers amid COVID-19, read the full case study.

Photo courtesy Norman Regional Health System.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[How Practitioners Can Help Patients Deal with COVID-19-Driven Anxiety]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10840 2020-05-29T15:05:21Z 2020-05-29T15:05:21Z Head outside your home right now and you’ll likely see empty streets, vacant tables at restaurants, and deserted shelves at grocery stores. Conferences, sporting and theatrical events are being canceled; schools largely suspended. Turn on the TV and you’ll be met with news about a race to create a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, which doesn’t […]

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Head outside your home right now and you’ll likely see empty streets, vacant tables at restaurants, and deserted shelves at grocery stores. Conferences, sporting and theatrical events are being canceled; schools largely suspended. Turn on the TV and you’ll be met with news about a race to create a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, which doesn’t currently exist. You’ll hear about overwhelmed hospitals and a strain on our current healthcare system. For the general public, especially for people who regularly suffer from anxiety, this new normal can be highly overwhelming.

The reality is that many individuals are finding themselves feeling scared, confused, angry, and generally unsettled by today’s current events. All of these feelings are completely natural during this historic and highly chaotic time. However, as more people become quarantined or simply isolated from their daily routines, getting mental health treatment becomes even more valuable. Fortunately, thanks to telehealth, even when normal life events get disrupted, mental healthcare can remain consistent.

I recently shared my thoughts on how mental health professionals can help patients cope with COVID-19 with the Behavioral Healthcare Executive. Click here to read the full article for my tips to help patients through this difficult time.

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ray.hainer <![CDATA[A Look at Augusta University Health’s COVID-19 Telehealth Response Plan]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10833 2020-06-15T19:56:19Z 2020-05-28T14:28:17Z Augusta University Health (AU Health), along with the entire healthcare industry, had to act quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the crisis hit, the academic medical center based in Augusta, Ga., developed a plan to expand its geographic reach and provide safe and accurate testing and treatment for patients across the state. Virtual […]

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Augusta University Health (AU Health), along with the entire healthcare industry, had to act quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the crisis hit, the academic medical center based in Augusta, Ga., developed a plan to expand its geographic reach and provide safe and accurate testing and treatment for patients across the state. Virtual care was a key part of the organization’s response strategy.

AU Health had already partnered with Amwell on a direct-to-consumer urgent care program, AU Health Express Care, which it planned to roll out to its employees on April 1, 2020. In early March, just a few weeks from the launch date, the organization quickly pivoted and converted the urgent care program into a COVID-19 virtual screening program .

Within two days of setting the plan in motion, AU Health had trained and onboarded more than 100 providers on its telehealth platform. On March 13, the organization launched the AU Health Express Care website, and began by focusing on internal screenings — some of the first cases of COVID-19 were the hospital’s own employees.

The next day, AU Health launched the AU Health Express Care app on Apple and Android stores and began working to spread consumer awareness of the virtual care program. By March 20, the organization had conducted over 1,500 COVID-19 virtual screenings, and by April 29, over 12,300 COVID-19 virtual screenings were completed in total.

A COVID-19 Ecosystem Emerged — with Telehealth at the Center

AU Health’s COVID-19 screening program was at the heart of its response plan, but that plan grew and expanded over time, forming a larger ecosystem comprising many different components.

The Georgia Department of Public Health partnered with AU Health to open new in-person testing sites across the state to support the virtual screening program, and the National Guard extended the health system’s virtual reach into harder-to-access areas like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. AU Health also tapped into the expertise of its academic affiliates, partnering with the  College of Nursing to notify patients of test results, the Dental College of Georgia to 3D-print swabs for testing, and the Medical College of Georgia to conduct contact tracing using data from the AU Health Express Care app.

These combined efforts enabled AU Health to ramp up testing across the states of Georgia and South Carolina and vastly expand its virtual care footprint.

For AU Health, the Future of Healthcare Is Virtual

Even though AU Health faced an uphill battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, it managed to develop an effective and innovative telehealth strategy as part of its response plan. The health system was able to extend its reach across state lines and greatly increase testing, at one point testing over 13,000 patients in a single day.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people everywhere receive care, and telemedicine has become the “new normal” for healthcare during a challenging time. AU Health plans to embrace that change — not just to prepare for the next pandemic but to meet the virtual experience patients will demand in the future.

For a full look at AU Health’s COVID-19 response timeline and telehealth strategy, read the case study.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint: Choosing a Telehealth Partner to Help you Win the Race Against COVID-19 and Beyond]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10770 2020-04-23T22:23:26Z 2020-04-24T13:20:58Z In lockstep with the nation and stakeholders across the globe, the healthcare industry is in a race against the virus called COVID-19. As cases continue to soar, medical professionals are struggling to keep up. We’ve seen telehealth emerge as a strong partner in the struggle, helping to ease the burden on traditional care settings while […]

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In lockstep with the nation and stakeholders across the globe, the healthcare industry is in a race against the virus called COVID-19. As cases continue to soar, medical professionals are struggling to keep up. We’ve seen telehealth emerge as a strong partner in the struggle, helping to ease the burden on traditional care settings while keeping providers and patients safe by facilitating virtual medical care and treatment.

As telehealth proves its value, hospitals and other healthcare organizations that did not have an existing virtual care offering are now scrambling to get one up and running. With good intentions, we’re seeing some organizations move to implement the lowest-cost and easiest-to-implement platform they can find, including free — and non-HIPAA-compliant — web-based videoconferencing tools.

These tools became an option for health systems and other providers when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in March that it would exercise enforcement discretion for healthcare providers who violated HIPAA while using non-compliant platforms in good faith during the ongoing public health emergency. While this unprecedented step was effective in rapidly expanding access to virtual care, it has also created some hazards for healthcare providers and patients who are experiencing telehealth for the first time.

As we anticipate telehealth usage to remain high even after COVID-19 ceases, it’s important that organizations think about their long-term telehealth strategies when implementing new solutions in the short term. Here are some reasons why a quick fix may not be the best approach.

Safety and Security

Though regulatory security requirements around HIPAA have been relaxed during this public health emergency, patient privacy and other safety measures are still critical. By choosing a platform that is not HIPAA-compliant or HITRUST-certified, healthcare organizations run the risk that it will not be compliant when this emergency is over and HIPAA regulations are reinstated.

Perhaps even more concerning is the risk that patient visits themselves will not be safe and secure. For example, non-compliant platforms create the possibility that another individual could accidentally join the visit unannounced, or that a patient records the visit. Free platforms also can serve up ads, so patients could be receiving advertisements during a medical visit. Furthermore, some options expose provider contact information to patients. Bottom line: Although some regulations have been relaxed, organizations shouldn’t compromise on safety and security.

Community Support

It’s true that many web-based video platforms enable providers to connect with their patients online and perform scheduled visits, but that’s where the capabilities often end. While this may seem sufficient to some healthcare organizations right now, having an enterprise-wide telehealth urgent care offering allows health systems to provide access to their broader community during the public health emergency, and not just to existing patients. At a time when we all need to be working together to support patients and communities, this should be an important consideration.

Provider Support

The support that a more sophisticated telehealth platform offers is especially necessary during times when medical professionals are already feeling the strain. Capabilities including co-pay collection, insurance support, provider training, visit summaries automatically sent to patents, a dashboard providing a view into a provider’s virtual waiting room, and more, all help to make a provider’s job just a little bit easier. Web-based platforms tend to lack sophisticated integrations with EHR systems like Epic, and other services like Surescripts or labs, so providers still have to manually input the necessary information or write a prescription after a visit, again adding more work.

We’re facing times of great uncertainty and we’re all moving as fast as we can to outpace a virus that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. However, we’re running a marathon, not a sprint. In addition to the virus sticking around for longer than expected, there’s no doubt that once we’re on the other side of this pandemic, COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact on our healthcare system. In fact, it’s safe to say the system will never be the same, including the ways in which patients interact with their doctors.

As patients and providers get comfortable using telehealth for their medical needs, it’s important we not lose sight of the importance of privacy, security, and scalability. As difficult as it may be to think beyond COVID-19, when it comes to telehealth a long-term approach will pay dividends.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Intermountain Healthcare: Optimizing the Provider Experience Through Telehealth Interoperability]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10764 2020-04-22T15:53:24Z 2020-04-22T15:53:24Z In part one of our interview with Intermountain Healthcare, we discussed the health system’s approach to telehealth interoperability from the perspective of the patient. Part two features Tim Lovell, Director of Operations for Intermountain Connect Care, and Bryan Wang, Connect Care Product Manager, as they talk about Intermountain’s EMR integrations. Did you launch Connect Care […]

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In part one of our interview with Intermountain Healthcare, we discussed the health system’s approach to telehealth interoperability from the perspective of the patient.

Part two features Tim Lovell, Director of Operations for Intermountain Connect Care, and Bryan Wang, Connect Care Product Manager, as they talk about Intermountain’s EMR integrations.

Did you launch Connect Care with any type of electronic medical record (EMR) integration in place?

Tim Lovell: We launched Connect Care in 2016 without any type of integration. At the time, we were in the process of rolling out Cerner to all our clinics and so we started that independently. Our direct-to-consumer telehealth program consists of three workflows: on-demand, provider scheduled, and staff scheduled. On the on-demand side, those providers are 100% employed specifically for telehealth. On the scheduled side, those are both providers and staff who are primarily working on in-person care.

What was the provider response?

Tim Lovell: When we were rolling out the non-integrated version of telehealth, the provider and staff adoption was a little bit slower than we had expected. We quickly realized the virtual workflow deviated too much from the in-person workflow, especially on the scheduled side. Based on their feedback, we really tried to integrate the workflow and emulate the in-person care as closely as possible.

Starting on the on-demand side, what did the workflow look like before and after the integration?

Bryan Wang: Our on-demand telehealth providers were documenting video visits in Amwell and then manually indexing those into the Cerner EMR. We also manually posted charges and created the encounters within the Cerner modules. There was a lot of back-end work after the initial encounter.

After the integration, now the patient list automatically flows into the EMR from Amwell. When a patient checks in to a virtual waiting room on the Amwell platform, we automatically create an encounter within Cerner, and the provider clicks into that encounter within Cerner and can start charting right away. Secondly, when they’re charting these virtual visits, the note types within Cerner already have the automatic video visit attestation built-in for legal and privacy purposes, which saves a lot of work for our on-demand providers.

How did the integration change the workflows for the provider and staff scheduling?

Bryan Wang: To give you some context, we have approximately 400 providers within our scheduled system; two-thirds of those are primary care physicians, and one-third are specialty care. Initially, there was a separate login for Connect Care, and we had to rely on staff to monitor the waiting room for patients.

The integrated scheduled workflow brought with it three components. When the provider wants to offer a video visit, they log in to the Amwell platform. Next, they go into the EMR as they would for an in-person visit, go to that specific patient’s chart, and click the video link that automatically brings them into the visit. The system also notifies them when a patient is in the video waiting room. The last component is that the telehealth assistance software populates the video visit window for them to see the patient. Compared to the in-person workflow, there is only one additional step, and that’s logging in to the platform. As we look ahead, there is going to be a more advanced single sign-on integration that eliminates the first step of the provider logging into the Amwell platform.

For the staff scheduling workflow, we recognize that clinic staff, especially schedulers, are one of our key constituents in telehealth adoption, so we wanted to offer a simplified workflow. Originally, no integration meant dual registration and scheduling in both the Amwell and Cerner platforms. By integrating Amwell and Cerner, we made sure that when they scheduled a video visit it was no different than if they were scheduling an in-person follow-up visit. We set up the different appointment types for telehealth within Cerner, and there is also an automatic telehealth designation for billing.

Can you give a high-level technical overview of these integrations?

Bryan Wang: We utilize an HL7 integration, which is the best way to quickly integrate needed components to enable a seamless provider experience. At a high level, the integration falls into three pieces. First is the registration piece, which is how we communicate that the patient has registered in Amwell, and how we sync that information back to Cerner. The second is the urgent care piece that notifies Cerner that a patient has checked into the waiting room and is ready to see a provider. And finally, there is a scheduled video visit piece, which is how we communicate a scheduling transaction from Cerner to Amwell, as well as how we embed the URL video join link directly within Cerner.

To learn more about Intermountain telehealth interoperability journey, watch this webinar recording.

 

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Intermountain Healthcare: Optimizing the Patient Experience Through Telehealth Interoperability]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10743 2020-04-17T13:26:22Z 2020-04-13T19:27:06Z Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit integrated health system headquartered in Utah, has built a robust virtual health program that includes Connect Care, its direct-to-consumer telehealth service and Connect Care Pro, its acute care program. As a healthcare innovator, Intermountain has worked diligently to put in place both patient-facing and back-end integrations needed for successful enterprise-wide telehealth […]

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Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit integrated health system headquartered in Utah, has built a robust virtual health program that includes Connect Care, its direct-to-consumer telehealth service and Connect Care Pro, its acute care program. As a healthcare innovator, Intermountain has worked diligently to put in place both patient-facing and back-end integrations needed for successful enterprise-wide telehealth interoperability.

In this two-part interview, leaders from Intermountain’s digital team discuss Connect Care’s telehealth integration and interoperability from the perspective of the patient and from that of the provider. Today’s interview focuses on telehealth integration and interoperability from the perspective of the patient—from Intermountain’s innovative Digital Front Door initiative to its broader vision of how telehealth fits into that consumer digital experience. Today we’ll be hearing from Tim Lovell, Director of Operations for Intermountain Connect Care, Bryan Wang, Connect Care Product Manager, and Jared Antczak, Director, Consumer Digital Solutions.

Intermountain is in the process of optimizing the patient telehealth experience. Can you tell us about Intermountain’s approach to consumer telehealth?

Jared Antczak: When we think about our patient experience, we recognize telehealth is critical to that strategy. Intermountain has actively been working on an initiative called the Digital Front Door (DFD). When we embarked on developing this initiative, it was critical to have support, guidance, and advocacy from our leadership. Our CEO Marc Harrison joined Intermountain in 2016 and he added the new executive role of chief consumer officer, which was filled by Kevan Mabbutt, who came from the Walt Disney Company.

We benefitted from having expertise from outside the traditional healthcare industry as we thought about how we wanted to provide an extraordinary consumer experience. We started with the ideal state in mind, meaning what would the perfect experience look like regardless of resource constraints, technical limitations, and costs? Then we worked backward to develop what we considered the minimum viable product (MVP).

Can you walk through what the consumer experience looked like before the DFD initiative, and what it will look like within the MVP? 

Jared Antczak: Intermountain started with a fairly sophisticated digital presence for our patients and consumers. We had mobile apps and websites, and they all provided a robust set of features and functionalities. The problem was that they were all developed independently of each other—many required different logins and all of them had a different user experience and design construct. What we did with the DFD was tie all these assets, features, and functionalities together into an intuitive and seamless digital experience that allows the consumer to navigate through their care journey much more easily than before.

We engaged consumers directly through usability testing, consumer surveys, and interviews to really understand what it could and should look like. What we ultimately ended up with was a new platform that uses one set of credentials to authenticate. It’s not just a collection of features; it’s a consumer journey where one action naturally flows into the next. For example, if you wanted to engage with a telehealth visit, you could do so with the same set of credentials you use to see your past clinic notes and lab results, or to pay your bill. All of that is tied neatly together on the back end, and from the end-user standpoint it feels like a single user experience and application.

How are you rolling this initiative out?

Jared Antczak: It was quite an undertaking, so we broke the work up into several phases that matched different aspects of the consumer journey, from finding care to managing care to paying for care. At our peak, we had over 150 full-time employees working on the product, with another 100 part-time cross-functional stakeholders from across the organization engaged in the initiative. We’ve developed and deployed our MVP into four pilot clinics with roughly 1,500 patient users. We are now preparing for a broad launch across our enterprise.

How involved has the telehealth team at Intermountain been in the DFD initiative?

Jared Antczak: The telehealth team has been critically involved to ensure the integration of our telehealth product into the DFD is seamless, performant and functional within this new platform. The goal is for this to be as good as, if not better than, the standalone telehealth application that previously existed.

Can you talk about the Digital Front Door initiative from a technology integration perspective?

Bryan Wang: We focused on how to integrate the consumer telehealth experience for Amwell into our unified DFD patient front-end experience. For the front end, we leveraged Amwell’s software development kit (SDK) to fully integrate all patient interactions into the DFD within both web and mobile. It’s important to understand that the experience is not simply a web view of the white label application; it’s fully customized and consistent with the rest of the DFD workflow. We worked closely and extensively with Amwell’s SDK team to make this a reality.

On the back end there are two parts to the integration.  First, how do we communicate intake and video feedback information back and forth between the DFD app and Amwell servers. This is generally taken care of by the SDK. Secondly, with the DFD we are introducing an additional identity source. In order to resolve the differences between DFD, Amwell, and Cerner and make sure these three sources are synced, we leverage some cutting-edge interoperability principles. For example, we leverage a lot of FHIR APIs to pull information from Cerner and communicate that with DFD. Then between DFD and Amwell, we leverage Amwell’s patient identity API. The final lever is Amwell back to Cerner, which uses our existing integration of the HL7 interface.

If you could share some top best practices with other health systems looking at these types of integrations, what would they be?

Tim Lovell: It’s important to design around the end-user experience. For the patient, ask yourself how this will affect their access to care, and for the provider how will it improve their efficiency? You also want to involve the right teams early on. The level of commitment required to coordinate this is not simple. The multiple layers of connectivity and integration need to be considered and thought through. Lastly, pivoting around roadblocks is critical and it’s a huge change effort. We encourage a lot of flexibility among team members thinking about things in different ways.

Check back next week for part two of the interview discussing Intermountain’s EMR telehealth integrations to improve the provider experience.

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ray.hainer <![CDATA[Telehealth and COVID-19 Testing]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10709 2020-04-03T13:43:48Z 2020-04-03T13:42:18Z Patients are increasingly confused about COVID-19 testing. At Amwell Medical Group (AMG), we have seen a sharp uptick in test-related questions and calls to our network operations center, and we wish to explain and clarify the role that telehealth plays in COVID-19 testing. The current backdrop of COVID-19 testing Although the Centers for Disease Control […]

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Patients are increasingly confused about COVID-19 testing. At Amwell Medical Group (AMG), we have seen a sharp uptick in test-related questions and calls to our network operations center, and we wish to explain and clarify the role that telehealth plays in COVID-19 testing.

The current backdrop of COVID-19 testing

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance for COVID-19 testing, testing protocols and priorities have been left to the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians, leading to wide variations across locations and healthcare facilities.

As an example, some testing requires a doctor’s note or order, whereas testing sponsored by a public health department usually does not. A shortage of lab capacity and test kits, limitations on who can perform swab tests, and the inconsistent availability of drive-through testing are all adding to the uncertainty.

AMG’s role in testing

Our clinical protocols address which patients may be best served by COVID-19 testing. This is not a large group; most patients with COVID-19-like illness who do not have significant respiratory distress can be safely kept isolated in the home without the need for testing.

In some cases, however, testing may be reasonable for patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms who have complicating factors, including those who are immunosuppressed or chronically ill, are over the age of 60, or who have vulnerable family members at home.

If a patient with likely COVID-19 would benefit from testing, AMG providers offer a generic printable order and information on how to interpret the Yes/No results. This order is offered as a courtesy, with some important caveats:

  1. Testing may not be available in the patient’s area.
  2. The order may not always be accepted by the testing center (e.g., some centers require a doctor’s signature).
  3. AMG does not expect to receive results as we usually do with routine lab testing.

In addition, AMG providers remind patients that the test is only to confirm our suspected diagnosis of COVID-19, and to aid with decisions about Isolation or in-person care should they become necessary. Keep in mind that these tests are not perfect, and that in some cases results may take as long as two weeks. Finally, the provider suggests that the patient contact their primary care physician or local health department or schedule a follow-up telehealth visit if they have additional questions.

At a time when many patients are anxious about COVID-19 and confused about how best to use telehealth and how to get tested, it’s important that we be clear in setting proper expectations and educating patients about what can and cannot be accomplished via telehealth. Thank you as we work together to help manage and combat COVID-19.

Peter Antall, MD is the Chief Medical Officer of Amwell.

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ray.hainer <![CDATA[Telehealth and Urgent Care During COVID-19]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10682 2020-04-03T13:45:57Z 2020-04-03T12:45:46Z Americans who are sheltering at home and worried about COVID-19 are increasingly turning to virtual care, as are those seeking routine urgent care unrelated to COVID-19. At Amwell, we are seeing an unprecedented surge in demand for our services each day. We are working around the clock to scale capacity, onboard new providers, and ramp […]

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Americans who are sheltering at home and worried about COVID-19 are increasingly turning to virtual care, as are those seeking routine urgent care unrelated to COVID-19. At Amwell, we are seeing an unprecedented surge in demand for our services each day. We are working around the clock to scale capacity, onboard new providers, and ramp up technical and customer support.

To ensure patient safety and a good patient experience, we would like to set clear expectations with the public about when telehealth is and is not appropriate, and we are asking our clients to do the same.

Here are the most important points to be aware of:

1.Telehealth is not an emergency service

Patients with a medical emergency, including those with severe COVID-19 symptoms, should call 911 or seek care at their nearest emergency room immediately. (See more info on COVID-19 symptoms and risk categories below.)

2. Telehealth providers can evaluate patients with milder COVID-like Illness

Our clinicians are prepared to evaluate and recommend care for patients with COVID-like Illness and to triage higher-acuity patients to in-person care settings. However, our clinicians cannot treat severe COVID-19 symptoms or test patients remotely.

3. Telehealth providers can help with routine urgent care

Using telehealth for health conditions and concerns unrelated to COVID-19 can help reduce the number of people travelling to and from physical care facilities. Our clinicians support prescription renewals, chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma, behavioral health consultations, treatment for rashes and minor injuries, and other routine urgent care.

4. Wait times are much longer than usual

Wait times for telehealth urgent care visits have averaged 48 minutes over the past 7 days and can be even longer in high-demand locations and during peak times. Patients who enter the waiting room seeking urgent care should select “See First Available Doctor” to minimize wait time.

COVID-19 Telehealth Assessment

Amwell Medical Group (AMG) providers assess patients using the following COVID-19 risk categories:

High Risk Medium Risk Low/No Risk
Health Concerns:

  • Severe respiratory symptoms
  • Individual at high risk for complications
Health Concerns:

  • Exhibit moderate symptoms
  • Known exposure to COVID-19
  • Healthcare workers or those with underlying heart/lung conditions
Health Concerns:

  • Mild head/chest congestion, cough, sneezing, running nose
  • Unlikely or no contact with COVID-19
  • No underlying heart/lung conditions
Recommended Communication:

  • Needs immediate emergency care
  • Patient should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room
Recommended Communication:

  • An immediate telehealth visit is likely appropriate
  • Some of these patients may still require in-person care
Recommended Communication:

  • Self-isolation
  • If symptoms do not improve or continue to worsen in next few days, seek care through telehealth

 

Peter Antall, MD is the Chief Medical Officer of Amwell.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Will it scale?]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10726 2020-04-02T21:18:16Z 2020-04-02T21:18:16Z The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a once-in-a-lifetime test to the healthcare industry.  We have all been touched by the courageous response of healthcare workers and the broader healthcare ecosystem doing their best to prevent the spread of the virus. They all rely on technology to help them deliver care in the most efficient, cost-effective, and […]

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a once-in-a-lifetime test to the healthcare industry.  We have all been touched by the courageous response of healthcare workers and the broader healthcare ecosystem doing their best to prevent the spread of the virus. They all rely on technology to help them deliver care in the most efficient, cost-effective, and quickest way possible.

As an entrepreneur, former CEO, president, and venture partner, I have been in many discussions where we have a cursory discussion about if a particular company can meet unforeseen circumstances and scale up quickly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this to the forefront in a way never before seen.  After seeing our volume swell as much as 10x from levels just a month ago – I have a new appreciation about why scale is so important.  When your customers need you to perform – will you be ready?  Will you deliver excellence and build long-term loyalty, or will you fail to deliver in the moment when you are needed most?  Are you prepared for a tsunami of scale?

Early on in one of my startup companies, we had an amazing opportunity.  A leading player in the market chose us as their technology vendor.  This brought legitimacy for our brand, significant revenue, and excitement across the team.  Unfortunately, when we hit “go-live” we quickly learned what our limitations were.  Our servers were not ready for the load, our customer support teams weren’t prepared for the surge in new complaints, and our leadership team learned the hard way that our platform simply wasn’t ready.  The next few months were consumed with around-the-clock efforts to fix a number of issues and ultimately, we lost the customer.  Even worse, we wasted precious time that could have been dedicated to advancing other priorities.

As I watch this pandemic unfold – I see a new set of criteria that I will use when discussing scale with future portfolio companies.  Thinking about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on a telehealth company and the lessons that any startup can use, here are some of the questions to consider when trying to answer the question of “will it scale”:

Volume: Are you ready for volume to go up 5x or more – not just over 6-12 months as you grow fast or have a successful marketing campaign – but what if that happens in days or weeks?

Supply Chains: If you produce physical products – is your supply chain insulated from critical shocks that disrupt labor overseas factories, slow down shipment times, or potentially furlough dockworkers en masse? Are your third-party logistics partners going to be disrupted with local regulations or work stoppages? What if all of this happens while demand for your products doubles or triples overnight – could you meet that demand?

Software Architecture: Are you ready for a 5x increase in traffic?  How quickly can you meet that demand? Are your licensing partners ready to add licenses as you hit peak volume?  Will that take minutes or days? Will you have access to your data centers?  If there is a run on servers and a shortage of parts – where will you get them? Do you have elastic scaling built into your data plans or automatic mechanisms to increase your capacity in the middle of the night? Think about every part of your backend – you may be able to increase server capacity for web traffic – but what about neglected microservices or features that don’t normally have as much demand such as reporting tools, provisioning servers, or administration portals – what happens if they are suddenly flooded with data?  Have you balanced these processes and optimized computing load so that unanticipated demand in one microservice doesn’t overwhelm another?

People: Can you hire implementation, customer support, or sales resources fast enough?  If you provide specialized services – can you find qualified people in weeks or even days? Have you simulated what happens when thousands of new users suddenly come on your platform – who will train them, set up their passwords, provision their accounts?  What self-service tools do you have? Will they all call customer support?  What if they are all working from home and their kids are using YouTube and their internet is slow? How will you diagnose the issues? Who will fix it?

Regulations & the Market:  What about legal review, contract processing, credentialing? What happens if your business is built around an obscure law that prevents others from having access to your market and then overnight that law is lifted or suspended? How will you deal with new competitors? What about your pricing models?  Your marketing outreach? PR campaigns? How will you quickly grab market attention if there is an opportunity?

Financing: Do you have ample cash to survive if funding markets dry up quickly?  Do you have resources to make strategic moves and acquire competitors or react to new market entrants?  Can you modify or spin up new products as the market quickly demands them?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a case study in ALL of these things happening at once.  If companies are not ready – that once-in-a-lifetime event a company is hoping for, is also one that could, unfortunately, weaken or destroy them.  However, if you are ready, market shocks and unusual events can present an amazing opportunity for technology partners to show their value, have a dramatic impact on outcomes and build lifetime partnerships and loyalty.  Market shocks and demand for scale pick winners and losers – which one will you be?

 

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ray.hainer <![CDATA[COVID-19 and Telehealth Regulations in the States]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10618 2020-04-09T01:42:11Z 2020-04-01T16:12:40Z Changes in telehealth policy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are moving nearly as quickly as the pandemic itself. The declaration of a national emergency in March, the aggressive Congressional response to the crisis, and the spread of social distancing recommendations have paved the way for an unprecedented expansion of telehealth across the United States […]

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Changes in telehealth policy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are moving nearly as quickly as the pandemic itself. The declaration of a national emergency in March, the aggressive Congressional response to the crisis, and the spread of social distancing recommendations have paved the way for an unprecedented expansion of telehealth across the United States in just a few short weeks.

Even as healthcare providers scramble to implement new federal guidelines including broader access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries, they also find themselves navigating a patchwork of new telehealth measures at the state level. Mirroring the federal response, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have declared state or public health emergencies, and more than 30 have broadened access to telehealth in order to mobilize more physicians and create new pathways to care for people under quarantine.

The executive orders and other state-level regulatory changes affecting telehealth fall into three broad categories: license reciprocity and waivers for out-of-state providers, temporary emergency licensing (also for out-of-state providers), and expanded telehealth access and reimbursement.

License reciprocity and waivers. Under normal circumstances, physicians and certain other healthcare professionals must be licensed in any state where they see patients, virtually or in person. In response to the acute demand for healthcare providers and remote care caused by COVID-19, as many as 10 states (including New York and Iowa) have temporarily waived in-state licensing requirements for healthcare professionals who hold a valid out-of-state medical license, in order to remove barriers to emergency care and open the doors to telehealth providers in particular.

Expedited emergency licensing. A much larger group of states (see chart below) have responded to the demand for out-of-state providers and telehealth services by granting temporary emergency licenses, rather than broad waivers or reciprocity. While the ability of telehealth providers to practice across state lines is much the same in both cases, these states tend to require a formal — though typically expedited — registration or application process.

Expanded telehealth coverage. The temporary licensing changes outlined above are usually found in combination with one or more telehealth-specific measures. Echoing the federal changes to Medicare, all but a handful of states have eased at least some restrictions on telehealth to accommodate the need for social distancing and to relieve overburdened brick-and-mortar healthcare facilities. Common measures include:

  • Establishing reimbursement parity for telehealth and in-person services, for Medicaid and/or private payers (as the federal government has mandated for Medicare)
  • Waiving co-pays, deductibles, or coinsurance for in-network COVID-19-related telehealth services for all payers
  • Removing location restrictions to allow patients to access telehealth from their home (rather than a rural health clinic, for instance)
  • Waiving an established provider-patient relationship as a precondition for telehealth reimbursement (again, as with Medicare)

Even within these broad categories, regulations vary considerably from state to state. States offering temporary emergency licenses tend to have different application forms and processes. Some grant licenses for the duration of the public health emergency, while others cap the license at 30 or 60 days. And telehealth reimbursement policies for private payers and Medicaid are all over the map.

The state regulatory landscape for telehealth is likely to evolve further as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds. In the past week the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the National Governors Association have both urged states to relax restrictions on telehealth and out-of-state providers, and the $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law on March 27 contains several sections and appropriations provisions that are likely to trickle down to the states.

In the meantime, simply staying informed of all the state-level changes can be a challenge for telehealth providers. The Alliance for Connected Care, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and the National Conference of State Legislatures are all tracking these changes closely, and we’ll be updating this post and the chart below with new information.

Telehealth-Related Regulatory Changes by State Under COVID-19

License Reciprocity Emergency Licensing Telehealth Expansion State Health Organization ↗
AL Alabama Board of Medical Examiners
AK Alaska State Medical Board
AZ Arizona Medical Board
AR Arkansas Medical Board
CA Medical Board of California
CO Colorado Medical Board
CT Connecticut State Department of Public Health
DE Delaware Board of Medical Licensure
DC DC Health
FL Florida Division of Medical Quality Assurance
GA Georgia Composite Medical Board
HI Hawaii Medical Board
ID Idaho Board of Medicine
IL Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
IN Medical Licensing Board of Indiana
IA Iowa Board of Medicine
KS Kansas Board of Healing Arts
KY Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure
LA Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners
ME Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine
MD Maryland Board of Physicians
MA Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine
MI Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
MN Minnesota Board of Medical Practice
MS Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure
MO Missouri Division of Professional Registration
MT Montana Board of Medical Examiners
NE Nebraska Department of HHS
NV Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners
NH Office of Professional Licensure and Certification
NJ New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs
NM New Mexico Medical Board
NY New York State Office of the Professions
NC North Carolina Medical Board
ND North Dakota Department of Health
OH State Medical Board of Ohio
OK Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision
OR Oregon Medical Board
PA Pennsylvania Department of State
RI Rhode Island Department of Health
SC South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners
SD South Dakota Department of Health
TN Tennessee Department of Health
TX Texas Medical Board
UT Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
VT Vermont Board of Medical Practice
VA Virginia Department of Health Professions
WA Washington State Department of Health
WI Wisconsin Department of Health Services
WV West Virginia Board of Medicine
WY Wyoming Board of Medicine

Note: Last updated on April 8, 2020. State regulations are changing quickly, and the best source of current information is generally the state health organizations and/or licensing boards in each state (see list above).

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ray.hainer <![CDATA[FAQ: Telehealth Policy During COVID-19]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10464 2020-04-02T11:14:20Z 2020-03-30T20:29:28Z The COVID-19 virus has reshaped daily life and overwhelmed our nation’s healthcare infrastructure in a very short time. As the scope and speed of COVID-19 transmission became clear in early March, telehealth emerged as a key part of the response and has become even more critical as social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders have taken […]

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The COVID-19 virus has reshaped daily life and overwhelmed our nation’s healthcare infrastructure in a very short time. As the scope and speed of COVID-19 transmission became clear in early March, telehealth emerged as a key part of the response and has become even more critical as social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders have taken effect.

Policymakers and public officials have moved quickly to broaden telehealth access in order to meet the sudden demand for both COVID-19-related care and the routine medical care that must now happen remotely.

On March 5, Congress passed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which contained a provision giving the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to temporarily waive certain telehealth restrictions for Medicare. Then, following the declaration of a national emergency by President Trump, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded telehealth further for Medicare beneficiaries and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) waived restrictions on prescribing controlled substances via telehealth.

These regulatory exceptions, which will remain in effect for as long as the public health emergency is in effect, have created a new and rapidly evolving situation for telehealth. Here’s what providers and payers need to know regarding the changes to Medicare and other telehealth policies:

What are the major changes to Medicare reimbursement as a result of this act?

This chart provides a summary of all the temporary changes enacted by CMS (click to enlarge):

 

Do the recent changes to Medicare reimbursement cover COVID-19 related visits only?

No. To support social distancing recommendations, the telehealth wavier applies to treatment of all diagnosis during the public health emergency, not just COVID-19 related visits. For example, a beneficiary can visit with their doctor before receiving a prescription refill. Providers should continue to use telehealth billable codes.

Can I give away telehealth visits for free or waive the co-payment for a Medicare and Medicaid beneficiary?

Yes. While the use of telehealth usually does not change the out of pocket costs for beneficiaries with Original Medicare, HHS Office of Inspector General is providing flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal health care programs.

In fact, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act mandates $0 cost sharing for Medicare (both FFS and Medicare Advantage) and Medicaid beneficiaries for certain visits during the public health emergency.

Are co-pays for telehealth visits still allowed?

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, passed on March 18th, mandates that most payers cover without cost sharing (or prior authorization or other medical management): (1) testing for COVID-19 and (2) any visit, including telehealth visits, during which a patient is referred for a COVID-19 test. For Medicare FFS, the cost sharing mandate applies to a broader set of visits, including office and other outpatient services.

This mandatory $0 cost share applies to: Commercial Insurers; Medicare FFS; Medicare Advantage; Medicaid and CHIP; Tricare, Veterans and Civil Servants; and Indian Health Services.

Can controlled substances be prescribed over telehealth?

During the public health emergency, yes. Usually controlled substances can only be prescribed over telehealth if the prescribing provider has seen the patient for an in-person medical evaluation first. However, the Controlled Substances Act contains exceptions to this requirement, including public health emergencies. For as long as the Secretary’s public health emergency remains in effect, DEA-registered practitioners may issue prescriptions for controlled substances to patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation.

Can providers practice across state lines?

Although HHS can waive certain federal licensing regulations, providers must also adhere to state licensing regulations, which are set by each individual state. Many states have announced they intend to waive license requirements via interstate reciprocity or implement temporary emergency medical permits, but these waivers and workarounds often involve caveats.

Additional resources:

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[When and How to Use Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10472 2020-03-26T17:37:24Z 2020-03-26T17:35:59Z We are facing unprecedented times. No one could have predicted the surge in demand that’s happening across all of health care and the resulting strain being felt by all stakeholders — clinicians and patients especially. Many in the industry are feeling the pain of having to ration medical supplies or prioritize patients based on severity […]

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We are facing unprecedented times. No one could have predicted the surge in demand that’s happening across all of health care and the resulting strain being felt by all stakeholders — clinicians and patients especially. Many in the industry are feeling the pain of having to ration medical supplies or prioritize patients based on severity of illness. It’s a reality no one wanted, but it’s the reality we’re living in.

At Amwell, we’ve been impressed by the commitment our clients and partners have shown in taking care of their frontline clinicians while providing the highest level of care to an increased number of patients. We’ve been truly moved by the collaboration and tireless efforts that have taken place. We’ve also been humbled by longer-than-usual wait times that have increased with demand. We’re working to reduce these times by onboarding new clinicians at rates we’ve never seen before and by making enhancements to our platform to handle the surge — with more work still to be done.

As we continue our efforts, it’s also important that individual patients understand the role they too can play in this pandemic. For instance, considering the shortage of COVID-19 tests, patients can educate themselves about when they really need to get tested and, as medical visits soar both in-person and online, when they should consult a doctor.

Here are some commonly asked questions and advice for patients looking to take a proactive approach to their health, and the health of their family and community, during COVID-19.

Who should be tested for the virus?

People who have symptoms of COVID-19 AND who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, or who live in a community where there is active spread of COVID-19, should contact a healthcare professional to discuss whether testing is appropriate for them. The provider will decide whether a patient should be tested but remember: There is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill may be able to isolate and care for themselves at home.

Healthcare workers, the elderly, and those with underlying chronic conditions are at greater risk for significant illness from COVID-19 and may be more likely to get tested. People who are seriously ill, who are having difficulty breathing, or who have persistent chest pressure or pain should seek emergency medical attention.

How do I know if I should see a doctor via telehealth and whether or not that appointment can wait?

Patients should seek medical care through telehealth for COVID-19-related concerns if they have a persistent fever and cough, and don’t feel well but are not having trouble breathing. Patients who are healthcare workers, have an underlying heart/ lung condition or a weak immune system, should log on to see a doctor right away if they are encountering these symptoms. Patients with the aforementioned symptoms but who do not work in health care, do not have underlying conditions or a weak immune system should still seek medical care within the next few days, but it doesn’t have to be sought immediately.

How do I know if I should go to the emergency room versus wait to see a doctor online?

Patients who are having difficulty breathing, fever with severe cough, profound exhaustion or any medical emergency should seek emergency care immediately by calling 911 or visiting the nearest emergency room.

What can I do at home if I or someone in my household has been confirmed with or suspected of having COVID-19?

Should someone in your household be infected or suspect infection, the following measures will help protect yourself and others:

  • Keep the sick person away from others. The sick person should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom if possible. They should also eat in their own room.
  • Use face masks. The sick person should wear a face mask when they are in the same room as other people. If you are caring for the sick person, you can also protect yourself by wearing a face mask when you are in the room. This is especially important if the sick person cannot wear a mask.Remember that experts do NOT recommend wearing a face mask if you are not sick and not caring for someone who is.
  • Wash hands. Wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean often. Here are some specific things that can help:
    • Wear disposable gloves when you clean. It’s also a good idea to wear gloves when you have to touch the sick person’s laundry, dishes, utensils, or trash.
    • Regularly clean things that are touched a lot. This includes counters, bedside tables, doorknobs, computers, phones, and bathroom surfaces.
    • Clean things in your home with soap and water, but also use disinfectants on appropriate surfaces. Some cleaning products work well to kill bacteria, but not viruses, so it’s important to check labels. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a list of products for use against COVID-19.

If I haven’t been tested for COVID-19 but have self-isolated/home quarantined based on symptoms and medical advice, how do I know when I can discontinue isolation?

Before someone can come out of self-isolation, at least seven days must have passed since symptoms first appeared AND at least three days (72 hours) must have passed without symptoms. Recovery from symptoms typically include resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), for example, and improvement in respiratory symptoms such as cough and/or shortness of breath.

 

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[COVID-19 is here and spreading – now what?]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10239 2020-03-17T18:14:02Z 2020-03-13T21:19:46Z What many of us in the healthcare industry expected would occur – the inevitable spread of COVID-19 to and within the U.S. is now happening. What is surprising, however, is the rate at which the virus is spreading – so fast in fact that the World Health Organization has now deemed the outbreak a pandemic. […]

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What many of us in the healthcare industry expected would occur – the inevitable spread of COVID-19 to and within the U.S. is now happening. What is surprising, however, is the rate at which the virus is spreading – so fast in fact that the World Health Organization has now deemed the outbreak a pandemic.

In many ways, the country and its healthcare providers are not ready nor adequately equipped to handle the increased demand that COVID-19 is putting on our clinical teams and resources. With limited hospital bed space, respirators, and at the moment coronavirus test kits, we find ourselves grappling with the question of how best to prepare for the continued spread of COVID-19 and how we can provide the best care to those who need it now.

As an industry, we need to ban together to share best practices, pool knowledge and resources as needed. We take great pride in being able to support our health system and health plan partners, as well as our providers and the patients we serve. While even the most seasoned experts are learning as they go with COVID-19, here’s how we at Amwell are working to prepare and handle this coronavirus outbreak.

Up-to-Date Education: It’s of the utmost importance that especially during these times of need and increased strain on our clinical resources that providers have the information needed to do their job. This means that we are constantly writing and rewriting protocols in alignment with evolving CDC guidelines and ensuring that our care conforms to national and international standards. We are making sure that our providers are aware of the situation as it changes as well as know how to handle patients that may present with COVID-19 symptoms.

Coordinated Approach: The key to this effort is widespread industry collaboration. The only shot we have at combatting this outbreak is by working together and ensuring that for example, if one doctor sees a patient virtually, who they deem as high-risk for COVID-19, that we have a referral process in place to have that patient seamlessly transferred to a local hospital for further testing. As such, we have developed a “white glove” referral process to ensure a seamless and coordinated handoff between care teams. By collaborating with hospitals and health systems in this way, we can help prepare our colleagues for high-risk patients as needed, so that they are ready.

Excessive Training: Training should be approached from two sides – 1) making sure that providers feel empowered and comfortable using telehealth, especially if it’s not the medium on which they typically operate, and 2) ensuring that even those who use telehealth as their preferred method for seeing patients regularly, understand the nuances of COVID-19 and how to best evaluate patients during this time. Our doctors are being trained on policies for care and treatment of suspected cases that we’ve developed in line with CDC protocols and those of our hospital systems partners. We’re also helping our hospital partners get additional doctors on board and comfortable using telehealth as a first line of defense.

Staying Nimble: Managing this outbreak requires us to stay nimble and respond quickly. The situation is evolving quickly, yet unpredictably and the ability for organizations of all kinds and sizes to be able to pivot in correlation with these changes is invaluable. We have created a COVID-19 Readiness team comprised of various individuals from across our organization who are helping us stay apprised of the latest guidelines and respond accordingly.

Amwell has been proactive from the outset to ensure that we are prepared, but it’s never too late. We don’t anticipate COVID-19 to be going away any time soon, in fact, it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Ensuring preparedness will take cooperation from everyone and the more we can work together, the better positioned we will be to fight this pandemic.

To learn more about how Amwell is readying itself and for recommendations to help your organization prepare check out our webinar: https://business.amwell.com/resources/covid-19-outbreak-wbn/

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alex.daly <![CDATA[Introducing the New Amwell]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=10122 2020-03-09T13:04:13Z 2020-03-09T09:24:24Z American Well is welcoming the new decade with a renewed commitment to our Vision, Mission, Purpose and Values.  As part of this, we are rebranding our company and changing our name. Today, we evolve from American Well to simply, Amwell. From the beginning of our journey, our Vision has been that digital care delivery will […]

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American Well is welcoming the new decade with a renewed commitment to our Vision, Mission, Purpose and Values.  As part of this, we are rebranding our company and changing our name. Today, we evolve from American Well to simply, Amwell.

From the beginning of our journey, our Vision has been that digital care delivery will transform healthcare.

And, it’s happening.

Since our founding, we have built the infrastructure to mobilize clinical skill. With our growing roster of health system, health plan and innovator clients and partners, we’ve proven the model of scaling the availability of our country’s best doctors, bringing them and high-quality care to where it’s needed.

It’s through collaborative work that telehealth is increasingly recognized as core to care delivery and continues to evolve. No longer is telehealth merely a virtual urgent care service. Across our ecosystem and platform, Amwell, digital care delivery is fundamental to and enabling longitudinal care anywhere.

The evolution of telehealth and the transformation of healthcare continues. As drivers of it, we too, enthusiastically evolve to ensure we are steadfast in leading the industry to empower doctors and care teams to provide their services across the full care spectrum.

Along with our Vision, our evolution and actions are driven by our Purpose, Mission, and Values.  Our name change reinforces this:

So, Why Amwell?

“Amwell” reflects who we are in a simpler way and demonstrates our connectedness to our clients, partners, products, employees, and patients.  The heart check symbolizes the delivery of high-quality care through technology and a commitment to serve our colleagues, ecosystem and our communities.  Our name and logo reflect our friendly, approachable, clean, human and modern personality.

Today we unveil our new brand.

We are transforming care delivery.

We are Amwell.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[How Hospitals & Health Systems Can Leverage Telehealth for COVID-19]]> https://business.amwell.com/?p=10175 2020-03-06T16:30:41Z 2020-03-06T16:30:41Z With HIMSS 2020 being canceled due to COVID-19 fears, the opportunity to use the event to convene some of the world’s greatest medical professionals and technology innovators to discuss the virus has ceased. While many of these conversations are still taking place from afar, we’re quickly realizing that more needs to be done to fend […]

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With HIMSS 2020 being canceled due to COVID-19 fears, the opportunity to use the event to convene some of the world’s greatest medical professionals and technology innovators to discuss the virus has ceased. While many of these conversations are still taking place from afar, we’re quickly realizing that more needs to be done to fend off the imminent threat of the virus.

This starts with protecting our health care workers who are on the front lines of this disease. To date, much of the conversation has focused on how the American people can and should prepare. However, should COVID-19 spread at the rate and to the degree that many are expecting, we must ensure that our care teams are as ready as possible to help not only fight the outbreak but keep themselves safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is already beginning to arm healthcare providers, schools and employers on proper infection control strategies. The new buzzword is “social distancing,” which essentially means staying away from crowds. What better way to do so than to get your healthcare from home?

Telehealth can be an important first line of defense when it comes to protecting possible patients, the public at large and the care teams. As I wrote in a Fierce Healthcare article, here are some of the ways hospitals and health systems can and should use telehealth to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

ED diversion

As the spread of COVID-19 continues, health systems can expect to see a surge of patients into their already resource-constrained hospitals. Further, large numbers of patients with respiratory symptoms showing up in emergency departments will overwhelm our infection control measures.

Using telehealth, virtual care teams can screen patients, assign risk, answer questions and recommend the next steps a patient should take. This capability already has been used during influenza outbreaks and has the potential to greatly minimize the demands and risks at in-person care centers, reducing unnecessary infection risk, costs and burden to patients and care teams alike.

In-home monitoring

Already today, the health departments are responsible for monitoring patients under investigation and those with confirmed disease both in the home and in inpatient environments. These workers must go to great lengths to protect themselves when assessing these patients and still must accept risk of contracting the disease.

Telehealth can be utilized through standard consumer devices in the home or cart-based endpoints in the hospital to allow these providers to assess patients without the risk of contracting the disease.

Maximize resources

Across the U.S., we have concentrations of clinical supply: healthcare excellence, expertise, and readily available resources, while at the same time we have areas that are relative care deserts.

Utilizing telehealth can effectively load-balance clinical availability with demand for those clinical resources regardless of geographic constraints or mobility restrictions and enable quality and convenient care at scale. Providers can be projected to rural regions, long-term care facilities and specialists can be projected into critical access or rural hospitals to extend care

Limit clinical exposure to infected patients

As an increasing number of patients become infected with the disease and are hospitalized, the ability for telehealth to allow providers to “see” patients without being in the same room as they cannot be overlooked. Hospitals can use telemedicine carts, for example, to bring a provider into the hospital room of a patient virtually and allow them to examine a patient while keeping that doctor or nurse a safe distance away from the infection. This is especially important during disease outbreaks when patients are to be isolated or quarantined.

Engage patients

Even the best telehealth programs will fall short in value if patients aren’t using the virtual services. It’s not enough for hospitals to simply offer a telehealth service, especially during times of surge and demand.

Instead, they need to inform patients about when and how to use telehealth should they be concerned about COVID-19 and communicate the value to getting seen by a doctor—even their own doctor, who they already know and trust—from the comfort of their home for the benefit of themselves and others.

Above all, coordination across providers, care teams, hospitals, health systems, and government agencies like the CDC is critical. We must create open lines of communication between all of those on the front lines of the epidemic, enabling stepwise care and referrals that minimize the risk of spread.

We must help each other, inform one another, follow the guidelines created by the experts and pool resources as necessary (using telehealth to assist with managing clinical resources).

We must also continue not to panic but rather get and stay prepared. The latest CDC guidance for hospital preparedness emphasizes the importance of training and equipping staff so that they are capable of dealing with COVID-19 patients.

As hospital and health systems work to ensure these guidelines are enacted and followed, they should also consider ensuring staff are trained and well-equipped to leverage telehealth to fight against the virus and limit the spread of the disease.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Coronavirus: Don’t Panic, Get Informed]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=10082 2020-01-29T14:04:17Z 2020-01-29T14:00:55Z Around the world, the newest coronavirus outbreak has millions of people concerned about their health. Despite precautionary efforts to contain the disease, the deadly virus continues to spread within China and to other areas of the world including the U.S. So far, only five cases have been confirmed in the U.S., out of about 6,000 […]

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Around the world, the newest coronavirus outbreak has millions of people concerned about their health. Despite precautionary efforts to contain the disease, the deadly virus continues to spread within China and to other areas of the world including the U.S. So far, only five cases have been confirmed in the U.S., out of about 6,000 cases confirmed globally (statistics as of 1/29/20), however, experts predict the outbreak could spread extensively before it ends.

While there’s still a lot that we don’t yet know about the disease, investigations into the virus and how it spreads are actively underway to best understand how to protect the public. Since there is no vaccine commercially available yet, one of the best things people can do is to educate themselves about the disease – what it is, what the symptoms are, how it spreads, what to do if you think you may have the virus, and more.

Here are the top 6 things to know about the current coronavirus outbreak:

What are Coronaviruses: Coronaviruses are not new – in fact, we’ve seen them before. Typically, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that infect animals but can sometimes evolve and spread to humans. While coronaviruses usually cause mild respiratory disease in humans, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus. Only time will tell, but so far health experts have largely said that the new coronavirus is seemingly “more infectious” but less severe than the SARS epidemic.

Disease Origin and Spread: The new coronavirus (2019-nCOV) was first identified in December 2019 as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Since that time Chinese health officials have reported hundreds of cases in the city of Wuhan, some causing severe illness or death. Cases have also been identified in travelers from Wuhan to other parts of China and the world.

Common Symptoms: The new coronavirus typically presents as a mild respiratory disease. Signs and symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, and complications may include pneumonia. According to the World Health Organization, most of those who have died from the disease had underlying health conditions, like hypertension or diabetes.

Disease Transmission: There is clear evidence that the disease is transmitted from person to person, either through direct or indirect contact. What remains unknown about the disease is when exactly a person starts becoming contagious. For example, it’s unclear whether the disease can spread before a person develops symptoms or whether people who never become symptomatic can still spread the disease.

Prevention: Because the disease is thought to spread from person to person, the best way to avoid catching it is to be proactive with your health and practice responsible hygiene. Frequent hand washing, covering your cough and avoiding close contact with people who are sick can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses. Travelers should consider postponing or canceling travel to highly infected areas of the world, as all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. have been linked to people who traveled to the Wuhan area of China.

Seeking Treatment: Currently, there is no drug available to cure the disease, but many drug developers are working on a reliable antiviral to directly target the coronavirus. While a few of these treatments show promise, all are still being studied so, for now, people with respiratory or flu-like symptoms should get checked by a doctor. In addition to understanding whether your symptoms might be caused by the coronavirus, and making sure people at high risk for the disease are referred to the right health professional for proper testing, a doctor can help you manage your symptoms to prevent some of the more severe complications like pneumonia. A telehealth visit is a great option for those who are worried they are infected as a virtual visit enables patients to seek medical attention from their home, limiting the spread of the disease.

Bottom line – if you’re sick or think that you may have come in contact with an infected person, don’t panic. Chances are it’s the flu or just the common cold. However, because symptoms of the coronavirus and the flu can be similar, it’s always best practice to see a doctor if you’re feeling ill. At the very least, it could help limit any confusion or anxiety that patients may be feeling, wondering what they have. Taking advantage of a virtual visit with a doctor can be a good first step towards getting and feeling better while limiting the spread of germs.

To get in touch with a virtual doctor, download the Amwell app or visit www.amwell.com to learn more. You can also check with your insurance company or local provider to see if they offer virtual care services.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Telehealth Momentum Fueling 6 Trends in 2020]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=10019 2020-01-07T15:27:41Z 2020-01-07T15:27:41Z From the ability to immediately connect an individual with a physician based on a smart watch’s detection of irregular heart rhythm to virtual group counseling to aid in our country’s opioid crisis, advancements in technology and new approaches to care are pushing the boundaries of telehealth far beyond a sore throat or rash. Telehealth visits continued to surge in […]

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From the ability to immediately connect an individual with a physician based on a smart watch’s detection of irregular heart rhythm to virtual group counseling to aid in our country’s opioid crisis, advancements in technology and new approaches to care are pushing the boundaries of telehealth far beyond a sore throat or rash.

Telehealth visits continued to surge in 2019, driven by expanding reimbursement measures that are increasingly positioning telehealth as a highly attractive care option for health plans, providers and patients. Supportive reimbursement progress, coupled with the growing awareness and acceptance of telehealth’s value, have set the stage for big moves in 2020 that will change the paradigm of healthcare.

Given this backdrop—and as shown across a multitude of in-market success cases that span academic medical centers, homes, senior centers, assisted living centers and retail—many are asking: What’s ahead for telehealth in 2020? How should healthcare leaders prepare? Are we there yet?

Click here to read about the six trends I predict we’ll see in the year ahead as published by Inside Digital Health.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[All Carts Are Not Created Equal]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=10009 2020-03-16T20:44:45Z 2019-12-13T20:27:53Z The accelerating adoption of telehealth as health systems and others realize the value it can have on transforming their organizations and improving provider and patient experiences is exciting. While software is sometimes seen as the flashier part of telehealth, telemedicine devices and carts are often the places where organizations start their journey. Offering a bridge […]

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The accelerating adoption of telehealth as health systems and others realize the value it can have on transforming their organizations and improving provider and patient experiences is exciting. While software is sometimes seen as the flashier part of telehealth, telemedicine devices and carts are often the places where organizations start their journey. Offering a bridge to connect patients to providers at any place or time, devices can dramatically expand a health system’s reach, a patient’s access to care and enhance efficiency in a very resource-constrained industry.

While many care organizations realize the value of telehealth, and the critical role devices play, what is required to build and successfully launch a virtual care program is often underestimated. Frequently industry experts and IT teams will question whether a build or buy approach to telemedicine devices and carts is right for them. If the sheer number of parts required to build a telemedicine cart doesn’t deter you, consider the fact that there are many nuances to telehealth that may not be familiar to IT departments, especially when starting out. Partnering with a telehealth company who lives and breathes virtual care and can provide a head to toe purpose-built device for telehealth is a much better way to go. This type of partner can provide carts that will enable a reliable and consistent experience to ensure simple care delivery.

Here are a few key qualities to prioritize when choosing a telehealth cart:

Ease of Use:

Embarking on your digital transformation journey and launching a telehealth program can be challenging enough, so when selecting technology, it’s important that it’s simple and intuitive. The easier it is to use the easier local site and clinical adoption will be. Additionally, having an on-site device training will help your clinical team be able to use the carts on day-one.

Purpose-built:

Most carts are not purpose-built for telemedicine. To qualify as such, carts should enable pre-configurations, provide seamless over-the-air software updates, and a stable video environment at a minimum. A single click-to-start visit and image integration are also important for improving the provider telehealth experience. Another critical consideration is the operating system running on the device. Using an OS that is designed and maintained for use in telehealth can make all the difference.

Security:

FDA registration is a must for all carts. This may seem like a basic requirement but it’s important to look for carts and peripherals that are all FDA certified to give you and your patients peace-of-mind that the cart will work as it’s intended and alleviate any liability concerns.

Reliability:

Telemedicine carts are meant to enhance the abilities of physicians, but if the technology is unreliable the relationship between the provider and the patient can be broken and there can be negative brand impacts. Reliable fleet management that’s embedded into the carts, coupled with a fleet dashboard will help your teams monitor and manage system controls, as well as, proactively address issues before they become problems.

Support:

Having an easily accessible and centralized support team will help ensure success. You and your staff should be able to turn to one place with questions or issues that arise, so make sure to choose a telehealth partner with a strong customer service team who can be with you every step of the way.

Many of our clients have achieved great success by relying on our expertly built telehealth carts. Take for example the work of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. As part of its digital health strategy, the hospital built two ED triage programs using our carts – one for low acuity patients and another for more complex cases. The Express Care Program is meant to expedite the treatment of low-acuity patients within the emergency room. Patients determined to be lower acuity are directed to a private room equipped with an AmwellC750 cart where they are connected to a remote physician who can diagnose and treat them. Through this program, the hospital has reduced ED door-to-discharge time by 70 percent. For patients with more complex conditions, the Medical Screening Exam program streamlines care by connecting ED patients with remote physicians or physician assistants via the carts, who then provide a medical screening exam and order all the appropriate labs and tests. Patients undergo these tests before seeing on-site physicians, who will already have all the information needed to diagnose, treat and optimize discharge. This workflow has been instrumental in accelerating care in the ED and has decreased the door-to-evaluation time by 57%.

Another powerful example is UAB Medicine’s use of telehealth to improve care delivery for stroke. Alabama faces many obstacles when it comes to serving stroke patients, including a lack of vascular neurologists, the highest stroke mortality rate in the country and patients living in very rural areas who need to be transferred which further delays care. By utilizing our C250 and C210 carts, UAB Medicine was able to roll out a successful statewide telestroke network, driving down the average wait time for a stroke consult to only six minutes. Over 430 consults have been completed since inception and nearly 12 percent of visits have resulted in a decrease in the administration of tPA.

You too can achieve these results! To see how and learn more about our fleet of telemedicine devices and carts visit: https://business.amwell.com/telemedicine-equipment/carts/

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[When Flu Season Strikes; Telehealth Responds]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=10006 2019-12-12T17:51:20Z 2019-12-12T17:51:20Z The U.S. flu season is off to its earliest start in about 15 years. And while in latest estimates, the CDC reports upwards of 1.7 million flu cases, 16,000 hospitalizations, and 900 flu-related deaths nationally so far this year, you don’t have to panic yet. There’s good news for those feeling under the weather; telehealth […]

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The U.S. flu season is off to its earliest start in about 15 years. And while in latest estimates, the CDC reports upwards of 1.7 million flu cases, 16,000 hospitalizations, and 900 flu-related deaths nationally so far this year, you don’t have to panic yet. There’s good news for those feeling under the weather; telehealth can be used to quickly diagnose and treat patients with the flu.

As someone who has been treating patients virtually for more than eight years, I’ve seen firsthand how telehealth can offer patients a convenient option for quality care, which can be especially useful for people who are feeling like they just can’t get out of bed – a common sentiment of flu patients. With this year’s flu season expected to be severe, yet highly dynamic and unpredictable, it’s important to know as much as you can about the flu and your health care options. Here are some of my tips and information on how telehealth can help:

Know the Symptoms

Many people often ask, what’s the difference between a cold and the flu and how can I tell? The biggest difference is the onset. With a cold you may have symptoms that creep up on you – perhaps it starts with a runny nose or a sore throat. With the flu you typically feel healthy one minute and very sick the next. Flu patients will also have more severe symptoms than those with just a cold. When you have the flu, you can expect to be down for the count for at least a few days if not a week. Whereas, those with a cold can sometimes muster up the strength to get to work. These are some of the signs I look out for when diagnosing patients with the flu.

Get Treated Fast

The CDC recommends taking a retro-viral as the most effective course of treatment for the flu, however this medicine needs to be taken within 48 hours of initial symptoms. Therefore, it’s important to get in to see a doctor as soon as you start feeling sick. Oftentimes, especially during a busy flu season, getting an in-person appointment with your doctor on short notice is not possible. This is another reason why scheduling a virtual visit, for which the wait time is typically just a matter of minutes, is such a good option.

Why Go Virtual

Seeing a doctor virtually for the flu is more-or-less exactly like seeing a doctor in-person, only it’s much more convenient and can be better for you as well as other patients. In addition to enabling you to get treated quickly, telehealth allows you to stay home and rest while getting seen by a doctor. When you don’t feel well, oftentimes rest is a major component of what’s needed to feel better. The flu is also highly contagious, especially at the start when it’s most important to see a doctor. If you have the flu, seeing a doctor virtually helps prevent you from getting others sick while in a doctors’ waiting room. If you don’t have the flu, staying home minimizes your risk of exposure from others.

Prepare Today

I recommend preparing for the flu when you’re healthy. Now’s the time to go out to the pharmacy to get ibuprofen, tissues, hydrating liquids and all your flu supplies. Washing your hands frequently is another good method to prevent against the flu, however the best way to prepare is by getting a flu shot. And it’s not too late. It typically takes about two weeks from the time of the shot for your body to develop the antibodies needed to fight against the flu. That means, if you get a shot now, you’ll likely be protected by Christmas! While it’s yet to be determined exactly how effective this year’s flu shot will be, the shot is still the best way to prevent the flu and can also help minimize the severity of the illness should you get sick.

At the end of the day, know your options. For many patients, a telehealth visit is a covered benefit under your health plan and hundreds of hospitals and health systems offer patients the ability to see a doctor virtually using their platform. In addition to providing telehealth solutions to these health plans and health systems, we also have our Amwell app for patients to use. Visit www.amwell.com to learn more.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Using Telehealth to Keep Tomorrow’s Future Healthy]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9898 2020-03-16T20:45:50Z 2019-11-22T19:06:57Z Today’s children are truly our future. They will grow up to be the doctors, lawyers, teachers and leaders of tomorrow and it’s of the upmost important that we keep these precious lives safe and healthy. Unfortunately, access to the high-quality pediatric care is not always easily obtained. Between parents trying to schedule appointments around school […]

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Today’s children are truly our future. They will grow up to be the doctors, lawyers, teachers and leaders of tomorrow and it’s of the upmost important that we keep these precious lives safe and healthy. Unfortunately, access to the high-quality pediatric care is not always easily obtained. Between parents trying to schedule appointments around school and work, many children living in rural areas where care doesn’t readily exist, and pediatricians being overwhelmed by sheer demand, with over 71 million children under 15 visiting a doctor annually, care can be hard to come by.

Telehealth has recently gained traction for its ability to transform pediatric care. In a recently released case study, Pediatric Associates, the largest privately-owned primary care pediatric practice in the country, reveals how it uses telehealth to care for its more than 500,000 patients, more than 55% of whom are covered under Managed Medicaid. Here’s a short summary of Pediatric Associates approach to pediatric telehealth

The Problem

Due to its shared risk savings with insurance companies, Pediatric Associates performed a claims data analysis and saw that many pediatric patients were utilizing the emergency department for low-acuity conditions that could be better treated either in a primary care office or through telehealth. In addition to high emergency room utilization, Pediatric Associates also saw high patient volumes within their own primary care offices. To free up in-office availability for patients who truly needed in-person care by directing those who didn’t to another location, Pediatric Associates hoped to create better same-day appointment availability.

The Solution

Pediatric Associates partnered with Amwell to transform its triage line and implement telehealth as a care option. Prior to partnering with Amwell, Pediatric Associates clinical phone agents followed a set of triage protocols to determine if the patient needed to go to the emergency room, have a same-day office visit, have a next available office visit within 12-18 hours, be treated via phone, or get home care advice. Since implementing video visits, triage line protocols have been reexamined and many same-day and next available appointment conditions are now treatable via telehealth.

The Results

Since integrating video telehealth into its triage line in 2017, Pediatric Associates has seen impressive growth in patient and provider adoption. Specifically, utilizing established pediatric triage protocols and adapting them for video visits, Pediatric Associates was able to utilize its triage line to drive down unnecessary in-person visits for both commercial and Managed Medicaid patients. Through an integration between Amwell’s technology and the Pediatric Associates EHR, Pediatric Associates providers maintain care coordination while caring for patients via telehealth. To date, Pediatric Associates has seen:

  • 75 percent decrease in patient wait times due to telehealth
  • More than 3,000 video visits per month
  • Exceptional patient and provider satisfaction of telehealth

And the program continues to grow. In February 2019, Pediatric Associates expanded KidzDocNow beyond its triage line to help care for all pediatric patients in the state of Florida. Now, in addition to patients that belong to Pediatric Associates, providers can also see patients who need urgent care services but may not have access to their own pediatrician. In 2019 KidzDocNow was also made available 24/7 for nonstop access to care.

To learn more about Pediatrics Associates and the results they’ve achieved using telehealth read the case study here: https://business.amwell.com/resources/pediatric-associates-how-telehealth-triage-evolved-into-the-nations-largest-pediatric-telehealth-program/

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Treating Mental Health through Telehealth: Understanding Physician and Consumer Willingness]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9801 2020-03-16T20:48:49Z 2019-10-10T17:04:32Z Approximately one in five adults in the United States has a mental illness,1 but only 41% of those with a mental illness receive the necessary treatment.2 The reasons why those suffering do not seek treatment vary, but often times it’s associated with things such as stigma and a lack of access to care. While mental […]

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Approximately one in five adults in the United States has a mental illness,1 but only 41% of those with a mental illness receive the necessary treatment.2 The reasons why those suffering do not seek treatment vary, but often times it’s associated with things such as stigma and a lack of access to care. While mental health is important to discuss all year long, in conjunction with Mental Illness Awareness week, we wanted to bring special attention to those suffering and discuss how telehealth can help.

Telehealth can play an important role in improving access to mental health care and can help eliminate the stigma associated with seeking treatment. But are patients and providers willing to use telehealth for behavioral health treatment? Amwell recently ran two surveys to measure patient and physician sentiments toward telehealth and uncovered some interesting trends related to behavioral health.

Psychiatrists want to and are using telehealth

Amwell’s 2019 Physician Survey found that 69% of physicians are willing to use telehealth and 22% have used it. The survey also analyzed physician willingness and usage by specialty. Of all the specialists surveyed, psychiatrists were among the most willing to use telehealth and were the most likely to have used it. While most specialties had a large gap between willingness to use telehealth and actual telehealth usage, psychiatrists were the only specialists with no gap. In fact, every psychiatrist who was interested in practicing telehealth used the technology.

Millennials are most likely to use telehealth for behavioral health

Amwell also conducted a consumer survey to understand where this group sees value in telehealth. While the survey found that most patients are willing to use telehealth, different age demographics wanted telehealth for different things.

Millennials were the age demographic most interested in telehealth for behavioral health. In fact, 38% of millennials said they would see a doctor over video for mental healthcare. This is particularly interesting considering the notable increase in the prevalence of mental health conditions among the millennial population.

Understanding the demand for behavioral health services and the willingness on behalf of patients and providers to seek care virtually, many healthcare organizations have begun working with their providers to offer behavioral health telehealth to patients and members. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the largest commercial payer in Massachusetts, is working with its network of behavioral health providers to create a telehealth program that addresses patient access issues. They discuss how they’re building that program here.

Behavioral Healthcare Providers, a non-profit behavioral health organization in Minnesota, currently has a program in place to provide virtual mental health assessments to patients in the emergency department who are typically in a crisis state. To learn more about this program click here.

These types of programs are helping address access issues, and importantly, getting those suffering from mental health the care they need.

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, throughout the month of October we are offering patients 10% off therapy visits through Amwell. Click here to learn more and sign up using code: THERAPYOCT10.

 

  1. National Institute of Mental Health, Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (n.d.), 2019.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, 2015

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[A Q&A on Telehealth for Mental Health with Dr. Lindsay Henderson]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9769 2020-03-16T20:49:26Z 2019-10-09T14:34:22Z With one in five U.S. adults experiencing a mental illness each year, but only about half receiving treatment, it’s important that we work to increase awareness for the different options that exist for individuals seeking care. In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, we sat down with Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, Amwell’s Director of Psychological Services, […]

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With one in five U.S. adults experiencing a mental illness each year, but only about half receiving treatment, it’s important that we work to increase awareness for the different options that exist for individuals seeking care. In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, we sat down with Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, Amwell’s Director of Psychological Services, to learn how telehealth is helping extend access to mental health treatment.

What issues is telehealth helping to solve for when it comes to behavioral health care?

Lindsay: Two of the biggest issues include helping to solve for a lack of providers and helping to increase comfort for patients. Currently, patients often have to wait months before they are able to see a provider. Thanks to telehealth, wait times are reduced and typically patients can see a professional within days if not hours. Telehealth can also provide a more comfortable option for those seeking care, allowing patients to see a provider from within their own home. This means they can avoid running into a co-worker in the waiting room, for example. Being in their natural environment may also help patients open up more.

What are some common misconceptions that you see regarding practicing behavioral health online?

Lindsay: I think the most common misconception is that we can’t treat as many conditions. Once you find a good provider who matches what you want and need, and you can use the technology consistently and reliably, and you’re safe, we can treat almost anything online.

What conditions are you frequently seeing online?

Lindsay: We see everything that may present in a brick and mortar setting, but I most frequently see folks struggling with family and relationship stress, anxiety and depression, and life transitions.

What’s most important for providers to know about providing behavioral health care virtually, to ensure patients feel safe and secure?

Lindsay: Bed side manner is important in all settings, but there are some specific nuances when it comes to providing care virtually. I recommend starting by introducing the idea of telehealth during a patient’s first virtual visit. It’s also important to give patients a tour of the room you are in to show them that you are in a private place. Additionally, whenever you do something ‘off-camera’ like take notes, let patients know what you are doing, recognizing that they can’t see the full room from their device. Finally, be confident so patients know they are getting the same care that they would be getting in a face-to-face setting.

Do you have a favorite story about how telehealth helped someone in a unique way?

Lindsay: Lots of stories! I love seeing how this technology allows people to creatively fit mental health care into their busy lives. I worked with someone who had a very strict 60-minute lunch break each day and no other availability as a busy single mom; she saw me from her parked car outside of her office, which she called “the most private space in my life.” One of my favorite stories is when I was able to keep someone from a higher level of care by seeing them twice over a weekend. Traditional office and clinic settings rarely have Saturday and Sunday hours, so this would have necessitated an emergency room visit for the patient, but we were able to stabilize and keep her safe by meeting over the weekend.

To learn more about the state of behavioral health in America and how telebehavioral health services can help, watch our webinar here: https://business.amwell.com/resources/integrating-telemental-health-into-your-health-plan/

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Through Grant Solutions]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9676 2020-03-16T20:53:14Z 2019-10-07T15:59:30Z During Mental Illness Awareness Week, you may be considering ways you can raise awareness, increase screening rates, and expand access to care in your community. Even for organizations that have extensive resources and staffing funding is often a barrier to implementing new or expanding existing tele-behavioral health programs. Here are a few funding options to […]

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During Mental Illness Awareness Week, you may be considering ways you can raise awareness, increase screening rates, and expand access to care in your community. Even for organizations that have extensive resources and staffing funding is often a barrier to implementing new or expanding existing tele-behavioral health programs. Here are a few funding options to consider if you’re looking to increase access to behavioral health care in your community.

  • USDA Rural Utilities Services Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant: This funding can be used for telehealth equipment–including software and cloud-based services –and associated training, and is a great way for rural areas to reduce the access to care barrier. While any US-based legal entity may apply, all services must take place in rural, economically challenged areas and funding may only be used for equipment. The grant requires that technology enable live patient-to-provider interactions (i.e. not store and forward). Proposals can be for a single line of care or for multi-disciplinary lines of care. For larger provider organizations, this can be a great way to create integrated care services.
  • HRSA’s Rural Health Network Development Program: There is currently an open competition on this grant with a due date of November 25th, 2019. While there is a cap of 30% on using funding for direct care, this application would allow for a consortium of three or more healthcare partners to implement and provide behavioral health services in designated rural areas. Funding from this grant could be used to hire staff to coordinate services, train staff, or buy equipment and software to connect patients and providers. While the services need to be provided in rural areas, the providers may be located anywhere.
  • HRSA’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program: There are a few funding instruments that fall under this umbrella, one of which is focused on expanding the use and availability of medication assisted treatment (MAT).
  • Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Funding, including New Access Points Grants: While these funds are not specific to telehealth, an increasing number of FQHCs are leveraging telehealth to create primary care medical homes with integrated services, including behavioral health.
  • SAMHSA’s Tribal Behavioral Health Grant Program (Native Connections): Only recognized American Indian/Alaska Native tribes may apply. The purpose of this program is to prevent and reduce suicidal behavior and substance use among AI/AN youth through the age of 24 years. Obtaining equipment for telehealth is allowable under this funding instrument which provides $250,000 a year for five years.
  • SAMHSA’s Enhancement and Expansion of Treatment and Recovery Services for Adolescents, Transitional Aged Youth, and their Families (Family TREE): The purpose of this program is to enhance and expand comprehensive treatment, early intervention, and recovery support services for adolescents (ages 12-18), transitional aged youth (ages 16-25), and their families/primary caregivers with substance use disorders (SUD) and/or co-occurring substance use and mental disorders. While this was a 2018 competition, it certainly has potential to come out again.

Amwell’s Grants and Public Funding Program can help you identify funding opportunities for your community. For more information please contact us today.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[Intermountain Shows Telehealth to be a Low-Cost Option for Quality Healthcare]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9673 2019-09-25T13:54:13Z 2019-09-25T13:54:13Z Recently, our client Intermountain Healthcare was featured in an article in HealthLeaders. The article highlighted findings from an Intermountain study showing that total costs for the health system’s urgent care telehealth program are much less than care provided in other settings, including urgent care, primary care and emergency rooms. This study is instrumental in showcasing […]

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Recently, our client Intermountain Healthcare was featured in an article in HealthLeaders. The article highlighted findings from an Intermountain study showing that total costs for the health system’s urgent care telehealth program are much less than care provided in other settings, including urgent care, primary care and emergency rooms. This study is instrumental in showcasing the ROI that can be achieved through telehealth programs. With ROI being traditionally difficult to measure, health systems can now learn from Intermountain’s success in this area.

To help healthcare organizations understand what value they’ll get from investing in telehealth we explore (with the organization) a range of things:

  1. What incremental revenue will telehealth help an organization drive?
  2. What costs savings will telehealth help an organization realize?
  3. What improvements will telehealth help an organization achieve, as it relates to things like improving access to care, improving quality of care, and improving both patient and provider experience

To no surprise, the ROI directly correlates with how telehealth is being used. For on-demand urgent care, for example, organizations will be able to attract new patients and associated revenue for those who value things like convenience and access and will be able to achieve savings by eliminating capital expenditure in new brick-and-mortar locations. Various use cases may include:

  • On-demand telehealth for things like on-demand urgent care – offered to patients from their home (web, app), in retail locations (kiosk), etc.
  • Follow-up care telehealth for things like scheduled visits with patients post-discharge
  • Sub-acute telehealth for things like care consults for a patient in a skilled nursing facility or offsite clinic
  • Acute-care telehealth for things like multiple providers rounding on a single patient in the hospital, or a provide-to-provider consult  

In each of the above scenarios there are various drivers of value to consider – here are a few examples:

  • On-demand telehealth
    • Value: Will likely create net-new revenue by bringing in new patients who value the convenience/experience and will save an organization the capital expense of building physical urgent care locations
  • Follow-up care telehealth
    • Value: Has been shown to reduce patient no-shows while also giving providers time back – as these visits are often more efficient when done via video
  • Sub-acute telehealth
    • Value: Has been shown to help reduce readmissions and adds tremendous provide experience value in reduced “windshield time” – not requiring doctors to travel to various sites.
  • Acute-care telehealth
    • Value: Has helped organizations to tap into specialty expertise as-needed which can help with adding clinical capacity and managing full-time/onsite salaried care team members who might not always be needed

Beyond urgent care, telehealth empowers organizations to reimagine their care teams’ day. Not only do video visits often give providers time back, but telehealth means care teams can see their peers and patients in a whole new way. Consider an onsite, full time behavioral health therapist whose day may not usually be fully booked. Now with telehealth, this same doctor can see patients in other locations. Not only does this translate into increased revenue for an organization but is more fulfilling for the doctor and more impactful to patients overall. Ultimately, for many organizations, telehealth is an incredibly strategic asset because it uniquely drives both net-new revenue and significant organizational savings.

We’re proud to support Intermountain in their telehealth journey and thank them for showcasing the ROI they’ve achieved. To read the full story, click here.

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Lindsay Sharifipour <![CDATA[2019 Consumer Survey: Majority of Consumers are Willing to Use Telehealth but Use Varies by Age]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9663 2019-09-18T19:03:29Z 2019-09-18T20:00:17Z The adoption of telehealth has continued to nearly double year-over-year for the past decade. According to our new consumer survey, 8% of U.S. consumers have tried it and while this may seem like a small number at first, it equates to millions of people. Furthermore, another 66% of consumers say they are willing to try […]

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The adoption of telehealth has continued to nearly double year-over-year for the past decade. According to our new consumer survey, 8% of U.S. consumers have tried it and while this may seem like a small number at first, it equates to millions of people. Furthermore, another 66% of consumers say they are willing to try it. This represents a massive opportunity and great potential for telehealth to be part of regular care delivery.

With consumers having high demands when it comes to healthcare, one of the biggest avenues for adoption is to give people what they want, which varies considerably by age. Our consumer survey highlights the unique opportunities for telehealth programs within different demographics.

  • Millennials (ages 18-34): Millennials are the most likely generation to want to use telehealth and the most likely generation to have used it. In fact, Millennials are nearly three times as likely to have tried telehealth compared to other demographics. Specifically, Millennials want to use telehealth for mental health with nearly 40% reporting that they would regularly use telehealth for behavioral health management, higher than any other age demographic. Millennials are also the most likely age group to switch physicians to one who offers virtual care. To this generation however, cost is critical and is a major factor contributing to why many Millennials delay seeking medical care. Showing them how telehealth is a low-cost alternative to their traditional healthcare is important.

 

  • Xennials (ages 35-44): This age group is oftentimes the primary healthcare decision maker in their household—whether that be for themselves, their children or their aging parents. Engaging this group—72% of whom say they are willing to use a video visit—in telehealth could be the key to driving multi-generational usage of telehealth. Of those who are willing to use telehealth, 57% would use telehealth to save time, 58% would use it for faster service, and 58% for cost savings, so emphasizing how telehealth can meet these needs is important. Yet, barriers do exist. Specifically, a preference for in-person care and concerns about privacy are two of the largest inhibitors. Consumers ages 35-44 were also concerned about insurance coverage—more than any other age group.

 

  • Generation X (ages 45-54): This generation is highly pharma-focused – 42% of those in this group who use mobile health apps use pharmaceutical apps. They also are highly likely to be taking more than one medication to manage their health, so perhaps it’s no surprise that 80% of these consumers say they would use telehealth for prescription renewals. They also are the most willing generation to use telehealth for urgent care. But these consumers want to maintain their relationships with their existing providers and 69% say they are unwilling to switch primary care physicians (PCPs) for one who offers telehealth. Given their loyalty, telehealth services for middle-aged consumers should support existing relationships between patients and providers.

 

  • Baby Boomers (ages 55-64): When it comes to telehealth, Baby Boomers are a more captive audience than health professionals may realize, with 61% willing to try virtual care visits. In fact, just 4% of consumers ages 55-64 cited concerns about using technology as a barrier to telehealth adoption— significantly lower than all other age groups. Yet just 3% of Baby Boomers have tried telehealth. To help engage this age group we should emphasize convenience, with our survey showing that among those in this group who are willing to use telehealth, 60% reference time savings and convenience as the reason. Chronic disease management and follow-up care use cases are also important to this generation. Specifically, 61% of Baby Boomers say they would use telehealth for chronic disease management, and 55% say they would try telehealth in order to connect with their physician virtually after surgery or hospital discharge.

 

  • Seniors (ages 65+): While the senior population has the lowest interest overall, 52% of seniors are still open to using telehealth. They are also the least likely generation to delay seeking care and the most interested in receiving better access to healthcare professionals, making telehealth a great option for them to get quick and convenient access to healthcare. To continue engaging this population, we must recognize that seniors are the most eager to use telehealth for prescription renewals (84%) and chronic care (67%), which is likely due to the high prevalence of chronic conditions among this population. Follow-up visits is also important with the 65+ population being almost twice as likely to want to use telehealth for surgery or in-patient follow-up care compared to Millennials.

Ultimately, as organizations continue to introduce telehealth programs, it’s essential for them to understand where consumers see value in telehealth—and where they don’t—to maximize its worth and impact and increase adoption.

To view the full survey click here: https://business.amwell.com/resources/telehealth-index-2019-consumer-survey/

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[2019 Telehealth Predictions: The Emergence of a Game-Changer for Healthcare]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9274 2020-03-16T20:54:05Z 2019-02-13T14:22:07Z Roy Schoenberg, MD, MPH, President and CEO of American Well, shares his predictions for telehealth in 2019 and reveals how he believes physical care and digital care will be used in conjunction to make the healthcare experience better.

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2019 telehealth predictions

Throughout 2018, we witnessed across-the-board advances in the world of telemedicine. Shifts in state and federal policies fueled massive growth for both commercial and government reimbursement for telehealth and, admittedly, there was also growing maturity in the understanding of how to blend technologies into the way we consume and deliver care.

Hindsight is easy. In 2018, more states introduced telemedicine parity reimbursement laws. More payers added telehealth to their benefits. Consumer electronic giants like Apple and Samsung pioneered new ways to change the world with telehealth, while Congress passed the CHRONIC Care Act, which finally opens the door for elderly Americans to benefit from telehealth in their home (what took so long!).

More importantly, at the ground level, where care actually happens, we saw physicians and patients use telehealth to care for pretty much everything — cancer, behavioral health, post-surgical recovery, substance abuse, at-home dialysis and more. The list goes on; the train has left the station.

But above all, in 2018, our definition of telehealth changed. We began to accept that, like many other parts of our lives — how we buy things, how we interact, how we maintain relationships — the intertwining of the physical and digital is inevitable. Modern healthcare will have two arms and they will coexist and support each other. Physical care and digital care will be used safely and in conjunction to make our healthcare experience better, more humane, less painful.

Looking forward is a little trickier. Predicting how change will evolve, and where and when it will emerge, is a fascinating but also error-prone exercise. With the disclaimer of not possessing an 8-Ball, below are some of the things we believe are “around the proverbial corner” for the industry in 2019.

2019: It’s not your grandpa’s version of telehealth anymore

2019-telehealth-predictionsAs Chilmark Research noted in its 2018 telehealth vendor assessment, the telehealth market will expand from its two anchors (telestroke-like use between clinicians, and consumer apps offering quick access to urgent care) to deeper layers of care delivery. The transition of telehealth from emergent-care settings into chronic-care settings is supported by the CHRONIC Care Act, which will release Medicare Advantage dollars to providers treating chronically ill patients remotely. For patients who need ongoing follow-up care, telehealth will come in various form factors — as separate applications on consumer devices (like phones) or as a built-in component of medical devices used for home monitoring. Significantly, the telehealth role will expand from a method of reaching diagnosis to a method of longitudinal care.

My watch says ‘I am sick’ 

The gap between what you can and can’t do through a virtual platform is narrowing. Passive data collection via sensors and telehealth has already started to trigger important healthcare encounters, a trend that is poised to skyrocket with sensor innovation. With the explosion of wearable devices like the Apple Watch, the role of the patient to alert physicians on their need for care (e.g. raising their hand to say, “I don’t feel well”) is now shared with the sensor’s ability to recognize abnormalities, flag them and call up doctors via telehealth. Case in point: The Apple Heart Study shows the potential for wearables to quickly identify irregular heart rhythms and connect patients to a telehealth provider, thwarting serious, or even fatal issues. Connecting automated detection with telehealth, the quickest way to render care, will usher in a dramatic change in care-consumption trends.

My PCP has ‘Cleveland Clinic Inside’…

2019-telehealth-predictionsToday, our health outcomes correlate with our proximity to large academic medical centers. It’s sad, but true. Clinical skills are perfected in places that see high volumes of like patients and are less mature elsewhere. Telehealth opens the door to reimagining how high-skills centers can participate and inform (not necessarily own) local care delivery.Leading hospitals will use telehealth to help community clinicians around the country adjust the care of their most challenging (and often riskiest, most costly) patients. Since the appropriate handling of those patients is in the interest of both the patient, their risk-taking PCP and the payers, expect top health systems to open up telehealth-based coordination services for complex conditions like cancer and metabolic and endocrine diseases — all aimed at peripheral primary-care physician practices. Lastly, since most provider-to-provider interaction isn’t limited by state licensure, expect these care-excellence centers to grow at a faster speed than direct-to-patient telehealth services.

Leaving the hospital doesn’t mean you’re getting lesser care 

Telemedicine demonstrated its impact in previously untouched care settings when New York-Presbyterian lowered its average ED wait time from more than two hours to about 30 minutes, after implementing an enterprise telehealth platform into its own EDs. In 2019, telehealth will make forays into other healthcare settings too — especially post-acute care, skilled nursing facilities and even home health agencies — all aiming at managing patient care on-site, rather than triggering ambulance transfers (and readmissions). The native ability of low-cost telehealth devices to bring immediate clinical consults into the hands of unskilled staff will make telehealth a legally-required instrumentation for any non-hospital care setting. Further down the road, we can expect telehealth services to be priced not by the cost of the technology, but by their share in reducing patient transfers and, eventually, lower morbidity and overall outcomes.

Telehealth means business for private practitioners

For more than a decade, telehealth has remained a novelty only large academic medical centers can afford. Costly technology acquisition, scary data and workflow-integration projects, and even the deep support needed by clinicians and their staff in blending telehealth into their daily practice, have all made telehealth more of “luxury good.” This current state is changing at breakneck speed. Telehealth solutions for individual practitioners are becoming available to purchase, and large enterprise telehealth services run by payers and health systems now offer the ability to “enroll your network,” bringing telehealth capabilities into the hands of all affiliated individual practitioners. The proliferation of specialty appointments over digital channels will offer relief to patients everywhere, and also allow early-adopters/providers to completely redefine their revenue stream and practice better work-life balance.

‘Virtual First’ will become healthcare’s game changer

While all of the above predictions offer transformative and much-needed modernization to how we experience care, none will impact the industry as much as the arrival of “Virtual First.” In a nutshell, it’s a health insurance product that is structured around an always-available (and dynamically allocated) PCP on your phone. It offers speed and convenience previously associated with costly concierge medicine, but requires that you actually engage with a remote clinician before you consume physical healthcare services. The clinician will not only help triage and care for the issue at hand, but if needed, he/she will help schedule any additional services or labs in a cost-effective environment near you. The use of telehealth technology to bundle superior healthcare experiences with the mechanism to appropriate consumption will offer a rare opportunity to rein in healthcare costs — and create an alignment between patients/members and payers. We believe Virtual First will be a game-changer to healthcare in the same way Uber changed the way we commute, and Amazon changed the way we buy.

For more 2019 telehealth predictions, watch Dr. Schoenberg’s presentation here.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[4 Ways Top Telemedicine Health Plans Are Maximizing Success]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9125 2020-03-16T20:54:45Z 2018-11-28T17:37:45Z Telemedicine enables health plans to deliver convenient, affordable, high-quality care to members. But to maximize its impact, health plans need to take full advantage of telehealth’s capabilities. Here are four ways top telemedicine health plans are enhancing their programs and delivering better care to members: Driving Member Awareness Many members may not know what telehealth […]

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telemedicine health plansTelemedicine enables health plans to deliver convenient, affordable, high-quality care to members. But to maximize its impact, health plans need to take full advantage of telehealth’s capabilities. Here are four ways top telemedicine health plans are enhancing their programs and delivering better care to members:

Driving Member Awareness

Many members may not know what telehealth is, which means the first thing health plans should do is build awareness.  Top telemedicine health plans are utilizing comprehensive marketing approaches aimed at building awareness of telehealth services and driving usage. Successful marketing tactics include email, direct-mail, digital advertising, and working with employer groups.

Messaging is also essential to success. If you’re marketing to a Managed Medicaid population, the value propositions—no public transport travel, no time off work—are different compared to other populations.

Action Item: The best way to encourage telehealth usage is by offering it to your full membership. Develop a multi-phased marketing strategy that aims to build awareness before driving enrollments and utilization. Ensure the messaging is adapted to each target audience.

Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Services

There is a national mental health provider shortage, especially for psychiatry services. In fact, 77 percent of the nation’s counties report a severe deficiency of psychiatrists.  The lack of mental health providers is especially critical in rural communities, where patients must travel long distances for care or they choose not to seek care altogether.

To combat these issues, top telemedicine health plans are offering care via telehealth. Telehealth enables these health plans to extend needed behavioral health services further into member communities, making care more accessible. Health plans across the country are using telehealth to:

  • Address mental health provider supply and member access issues
  • Divert patients away from ERs and PCPs for behavioral healthcare
  • Build a virtual behavioral health collaborative care model with PCPs
  • Extend behavioral health services further into member communities

Action Item: Analyze the behavioral health provider supply and access issues in your region. This analysis will help determine the best way to set up and structure a virtual behavioral health program. If you find your region has a behavioral health provider shortage, consider partnering with Online Care Group, Amwell’s online medical group, to provide needed behavioral health services.

Connecting and Empowering Network Providers

Delivering coordinated care in a competitive healthcare marketplace is becoming more difficult. As care options increase, members seek care outside the health plan ecosystem, which causes fragmentation and market share loss. Telehealth offers members a convenient care option that is in-network. By using telehealth to engage network providers, coordination becomes easier and local providers can collaborate on how to best care for members.

Utilizing a health plan-associated telehealth program is especially relevant to providers in risk-based contacts, who are in search of more effective and efficient ways to care for these members, especially those with chronic conditions.

Action Item: The first step to engaging local providers in telehealth is to have constructive, informative conversations. Educating network providers on the benefits of collaborative care via telehealth will help your health plan find provider champions who are willing to use telehealth and who will ultimately encourage their peers to use the technology.

Considering Telehealth’s Impact on Quality Metrics

Consumers use quality performance metrics to compare health plans, while health plans use these metrics to evaluate providers and maximize payments from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As the healthcare model continues to shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, quality performance metrics like HEDIS and CMS Star Ratings will become essential to ensuring quality care.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has updated HEDIS metrics to include telehealth, introducing it into 14 existing physical health measures, as well as behavioral health measures.

CMS Star Ratings for Medicare Advantage can also benefit from telehealth. A 1-star improvement in CMS Star Ratings could lead to an eight to 12 percent increase in member enrollments and improving from a 3-star to 4-star rating could increase health plan revenue by 13-17 percent.  Telehealth can improve ratings for three of the five categories:

  • Staying Healthy: Screening, Tests, Vaccines
  • Managing Chronic Conditions
  • Member Experience with Health Plan

Action Item: Determine which HEDIS and CMS Star Ratings measures can be improved by telehealth. Focus on a few to start, and actively measure the effect telehealth has on these ratings year-over-year.

 

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Telehealth in Rural Areas: How Health Systems Deliver Better Access to Care]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=9091 2020-03-16T20:55:37Z 2018-11-19T15:05:43Z Approximately 62 million Americans—or one in five people—live in rural areas, while only nine percent of all physicians practice in these settings. This lack of care in rural communities is creating a huge healthcare access issue, resulting in patients driving long distances for care. To address these healthcare access issues, health systems across the country […]

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telehealth in rural areasApproximately 62 million Americans—or one in five people—live in rural areas, while only nine percent of all physicians practice in these settings. This lack of care in rural communities is creating a huge healthcare access issue, resulting in patients driving long distances for care. To address these healthcare access issues, health systems across the country are implementing telehealth in rural areas to give patients better access to high-quality care. Here are three examples of health systems utilizing telehealth for rural healthcare delivery:

UVA Health System: Breaking down distance barriers

University of Virginia Health System serves a large rural footprint, including the coalfields of Southwestern Virginia—one of the largest medically underserved populations in the state. Access to timely, high-quality care in these areas is limited, and patients oftentimes need to travel long distances for care.

To better serve patients, UVA incorporated telehealth in rural areas across Virginia. Utilizing Amwell’s 750 telemedicine cart, the health system extended needed specialty care—behavioral health, diabetes, obstetrics, oncology, stroke—into these communities. Through these programs, UVA Health System increased patient satisfaction in rural areas by 30 percent and saved patients 8.9 million miles of travel. To read more about UVA Health System’s rural telehealth programs, read the case study here.

Children’s Omaha: Improving mental health access issues

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska provides care to more than 250,000 children each year, many of whom live in rural communities. Nebraska, like many of the other states Children’s serves, has a severe shortage of psychiatrists. With a population of roughly 1.9 million people, Nebraska only has around 156 practicing psychiatrists. Eighty-four percent of these psychiatrists are practicing in metropolitan areas, which leaves only 25 psychiatrists to cover the remaining 70,000 square miles of the state.

To address this issue, Children’s Omaha implemented pediatric psychiatry telehealth in rural areas across the state. Within a year of launching its telepsychiatry program, Children’s Omaha conducted more than 600 video visits and reduced no-show rates by 50%. They also reduced physician drive time by 26 hours per week.

For more information about Children’s Omaha’s telepsychiatry program in rural areas, including how they built and staffed the program, read the full case study.

Children’s Health: Addressing pediatric needs in Texas

Children’s Health, a pediatric health system in Dallas, has a large, diverse patient population spanning both urban and rural communities. Almost 75 percent of its patients are on Medicaid and deal with health access and socioeconomic issues that prevent them from getting the care they need.

Children’s Health uses telehealth in rural areas and urban centers to deliver better care to children. Through its school-based care program, the health system projects needed pediatric care to over 100 schools in Texas. Children’s Health also uses telehealth to expand its hospital service lines. For example, cystic fibrosis patients who live over two hours away from the health system can now work with a Children’s Health provider to manage their care via telehealth. After implementing the cystic fibrosis telemedicine program, the health system saw a large improvement in patient compliance. For a closer look at how Children’s Health built its telemedicine program in Texas, read this  piece by Julie Hall-Barrow, EdD, vice president of virtual health and innovation at Children’s Health.

 

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Three telehealth success stories]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8969 2020-03-16T20:56:44Z 2018-10-08T13:45:29Z The average wait time for patients to see a provider is 24 days, up from 18.5 days in 2014.[1]  With wait times rising and healthcare costs increasing, many health systems have turned to telehealth as a means of increasing access to healthcare. Cerner and Amwell have partnered to deliver telehealth that is fully embedded within […]

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The average wait time for patients to see a provider is 24 days, up from 18.5 days in 2014.[1]  With wait times rising and healthcare costs increasing, many health systems have turned to telehealth as a means of increasing access to healthcare.

Cerner and Amwell have partnered to deliver telehealth that is fully embedded within Cerner’s electronic health record portfolio. The partnership allows physicians to maintain existing workflows within Cerner while delivering virtual care. Several mutual clients of Cerner and Amwell, including Children’s Mercy, Beacon Health System, and Intermountain Healthcare, have had great successes with their telehealth programs.

BayCare System System – creating a retail strategy through telehealth

BayCare Health System, a leading not-for-profit health system, utilizes telehealth to provide its patients with convenient access to quality care in the Tampa Bay region. The system currently offers its patients urgent care and wound care services via BayCare Anywhere.

Through its wound care program, BayCare aims to eliminate drive time for its wound care specialist by keeping the provider in a central location to see patients virtually. Since launching this program, the health system has been able to reduce wait time to see the provider from weeks to hours.

In an effect to expand its reach into new markets in the region, BayCare has also deployed eight branded telehealth kiosks in Publix grocery stores.

Beacon Health System – delivering telehealth to employers

Beacon Health System has one telehealth program that is integrated across its entire system.  Through this program, they offer:

  1. A direct-to-consumer platform, Beacon Connected Care, for urgent care, nutrition and behavioral health services
  2. An employer group offering that has employers seeing a positive return on investment in just one year
  3. Site-to-site consults for remote psychiatry rounding
  4. Provider-driven telehealth for scheduled and follow-up appointments

Beacon Health System has seen over 33% of patients who signed up for Beacon’s direct-to-consumer and employer telehealth services go on to have an online visit. The average wait time to see a physician is around six minutes, and the top conditions treated included sinusitis, upper respiratory infections, acute pharyngitis, acute cystitis, and conjunctivitis. Patients and employees who used Beacon’s online care option rated the providers and platform as “excellent” with 4.7 and 4.5 out of five stars, respectively.

Intermountain Healthcare – reducing costs through virtual care

Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit health system based in Salt Lake City, Utah, launched Intermountain Connect Care to help its patients access needed urgent care services. Through a claims analysis, Intermountain measured the value and quality impact direct-to-consumer video visits had on the system and its patients and found that virtual visits resulted in a total claims cost reduction of $367, while patients saw an average savings of $146.93 per visit with telehealth.

To learn more about delivering virtual care through Cerner’s EHR, please visit Amwell’s booth # 741 at the Cerner Health Conference.

[1] Merritt Hawkins 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Telemedicine Follow-Up Care Helps Reduce No-Show Rates]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8929 2018-10-02T16:47:54Z 2018-10-02T16:47:54Z Follow-up care often includes multiple visits to distant and specialized facilities -- with expensive travel considerations -- even for something as simple as a visual check up. This often results in an increase in no-show rates for patients whose geography and personal schedules make follow-up care difficult. Telemedicine follow-up care is being used by many health systems to reduce access issues and increase the likelihood of patients returning for care after an initial visit.

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Telemedicine Follow-Up CareFollow-up care often includes multiple visits to distant and specialized facilities — with expensive travel considerations — even for something as simple as a visual check up. This often results in an increase in no-show rates for patients whose geography and personal schedules make follow-up care difficult. Telemedicine follow-up care is being used by many health systems to reduce access issues and increase the likelihood of patients returning for care after an initial visit.

Telemedicine Follow-up Care for Psychiatry

A case study on Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, found that telemedicine follow-up care reduced no-show follow-up visit rates by 50%. Before implementing telemedicine, Children’s Omaha was seeing patients drive three hours for a 20-minute follow-up session, meaning patients were spending more time driving than receiving care.

In states like Nebraska, where less than 20% of psychiatrists practice outside of the major metropolitan areas, much of the population does not have access to local psychiatric services. This means that even if patients can afford to make a trip to a practicing psychiatrist for initial treatment, they will face substantial impediment to return for follow-up care. Telemedicine follow-up care, like the care provided by Dr. Jennifer McWilliams of Children’s Omaha, brings remote psychiatric services to places where they are otherwise unavailable. Patients can access qualified psychiatric services via video at an affiliated local facility, allowing them to remain close to home while they receive both initial and follow-up care. For more information on how telehealth improved follow-up telepsychiatry care, read the full case study here.

Telemedicine Follow-up Care for Obesity Clinics

Nemours Children’s Health System, an internationally recognized children’s health system, operates a pediatric multidisciplinary obesity clinic in Wilmington, Delaware, which is comprised of psychologists, dieticians and clinicians. The clinic treats children from all over the state, many of whom must drive long distances to get care. To ease the burden of travel on these patients and their families, Nemours began offering telemedicine follow-up care.

After they began offering follow-up visits via telehealth, Nemours ran a survey to gauge patient and family satisfaction and found that 90% of patients and their families were “very satisfied” and 10% were “satisfied” with the care received via telehealth. Due to the success of this initiative, Nemours has since expanded telemedicine follow-up care to non-Nemours primary care offices. For more on Nemours comprehensive telemedicine program and its use cases, read the full case study here.

For more information on how telehealth is improving care delivery, visit our Telehealth Resource Center.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[How Telemedicine Psychiatry Addresses Mental Health Access Issues]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8914 2020-03-16T20:57:58Z 2018-09-28T17:21:18Z Telemedicine psychiatry, also called telepsychiatry, is helping patients across the country gain access to mental healthcare services. Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, which services Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota, provides an excellent example of the impact telemedicine psychiatry has on patients and providers.

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Telemedicine psychiatry

Telemedicine psychiatry, also called telepsychiatry, is helping patients across the country gain access to mental healthcare services. Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, which services Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and South Dakota, provides an excellent example of the impact telemedicine psychiatry has on patients and providers.

Children’s Omaha serves over 250,000 children, the vast majority of them living in rural areas with limited or nonexistent access to psychiatric care. Using telepsychiatry, the health system has been able to:

  • Reduce follow-up no show rates by 50%
  • Eliminate the psychiatrist’s 26-hour weekly windshield time
  • Have one psychiatrist provide care to over 600 patients in the program’s first year

Children’s Omaha is now seeking to scale up their telehealth partnership with Amwell due to the success of its telemedicine psychiatry program. The health system plans to implement a behavioral health telehealth program for children with complex medical conditions, for example a comorbidity of depression and cystic fibrosis.

The Need for Telemedicine Psychiatry

Children’s Omaha began looking at telemedicine psychiatry solution to address the mental healthcare access issues in Nebraska. Of 156 practicing psychiatrists in the state, 84% are in urban areas with the remaining 25 psychiatrists covering 70,000 square miles of territory. Further, two-thirds of these psychiatrists are age 50 or over so retirement, and a consequent greater service gap, is looming. Nebraska is not alone in this mental health provider shortage and even properly trained nurses and physician assistants are too few to fill the gap.

Building a Telemedicine Psychiatry Program

Children’s Omaha was strategic in building its telemedicine psychiatry program. The health system established relationships with clinics and hospitals throughout the state and placed telemedicine technology within these locations so patients could remotely connect with a psychiatrist in Omaha. It was important that they established these relationships because psychiatrists can only prescribe controlled substances if the patient is physically located in a hospital or clinic. This is one of many logistics Children’s Omaha had to consider when building its program. For more information on building and structuring a telemedicine psychiatry program, read this case study.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Telehealth Patient Satisfaction Survey Shows Acceptance of Virtual Care]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8857 2020-03-16T20:59:10Z 2018-09-19T13:59:19Z One of the questions many health systems ask when considering telehealth is whether the patient will use the service. To help health systems answer that question, Amwell conducted a nationally projectable survey in 2017—a telehealth patient satisfaction survey—to measure patient perception and experience with telehealth. Here is a summary of the results of the 2017 […]

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Telehealth Patient Satisfaction SurveyOne of the questions many health systems ask when considering telehealth is whether the patient will use the service. To help health systems answer that question, Amwell conducted a nationally projectable survey in 2017—a telehealth patient satisfaction survey—to measure patient perception and experience with telehealth. Here is a summary of the results of the 2017 survey. For a more in-depth look, read the full eBook.

Patients are satisfied with video visits

During the survey, patients were asked if offered the following three options – video, telephone and email – which method results in the most accurate diagnosis by a doctor? 69% of respondents said that video results in the most accurate diagnosis.

Patients also said that video visits effectively solve their health concerns. In fact, patients reported that their healthcare concerns were completely resolved 64% of the time when in a brick and mortar setting. Data from Amwell’s telehealth service shows that patients were able to resolve their healthcare needs 85% of the time with video visits.

Patients want telehealth for a range of ailments

Whether for relatively simple concerns like prescription refills or major ones involving chronic disease management, patients want telehealth. In fact, one in five patients said that would switch to a new doctor if they offered telehealth. This type of demand is especially relevant in rural areas. Growth in this area is so large that recent FCC proposals include funding for telehealth equipment in rural clinics to the tune of over $400 million just in the current fiscal year.

Patients are delaying healthcare—sometimes for serious illnesses

The telehealth patient satisfaction survey also found that patients are delaying healthcare. Two-thirds of Americans have put off consulting a healthcare professional for a variety of reasons ranging from cost to access.

Patients aren’t just delaying care for minor issues. Nearly a third of patients who said they had delayed seeking care are facing a serious health issue. Delaying care for serious health concerns can have costly ramifications for the patient and the healthcare provider.

Video visits offer a viable solution

The telehealth patient satisfaction survey also found that two thirds of consumers are willing to see a doctor over video. Access and time saved are two things that are driving patient willingness to see a doctor over video.

In a study by Southwest Medical Associates of Las Vegas, standard doctor visit times started with 18 days between making the appointment and seeing the doctor. The in-office visit itself took about two hours, only 20 minutes of which involved face-to-face time with the physician. With telehealth, the study found patients spend approximately five minutes waiting and 8-10 minutes seeing the doctor—a drastic increase in time saved compared to in-person visits.

Bottom line: Patients want telehealth

The telehealth patient satisfaction survey revealed that patients want telehealth and may start going to the healthcare professionals who offer it. To learn more about patient sentiments toward telehealth, read the full eBook.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Improving Stroke Patient Outcomes with Telestroke Programs]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8807 2020-03-16T20:59:54Z 2018-09-12T18:16:06Z Health systems across the country are implementing telestroke programs to allow physicians at rural hospitals to immediately consult and coordinate with remote neurologists.

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Telestroke

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for roughly 130,000 deaths each year. Every minute counts following a stroke because every minute that passes puts stroke patients at a higher risk of suffering long-term or even permanent effects.

For rural hospitals or hospitals without a neurologist on staff, evaluating, diagnosing and treating stroke patients quickly and effectively is difficult. Only 22% of rural Americans live within 30 minutes of a neurologist-staffed medical facility, leaving a large portion of the country’s population without appropriate access to stroke care when they need it.

To combat this challenge, many health systems across the country are implementing telestroke programs. Through these programs, physicians at rural hospitals can immediately consult and coordinate with remote neurologists during the initial triage within the emergency department (ED), all the way through the treatment and follow-up.

How telestroke programs improve patient outcomes

Telestroke programs have been proven to have positive effects on patient outcomes. Southern Illinois Healthcare, a not-for-profit system, implemented a telestroke program to minimize the door-to-needle time in its rural emergency departments. Through its program, Southern Illinois Healthcare was able to:

  • Reduce door-to-needle time to 19 minutes
  • Reduce the average length of stay for stroke patients to 2.5 days
  • Have one neurologist serve three remote hospitals

You can read more about Southern Illinois Healthcare’s telestroke program here.

Another study of 2,500 patients diagnosed with an acute ischemic stroke found that telestroke increased the timely use of clot-dissolving drugs by 75%. The study also found:

  • Diagnostic imaging tests were given 12 minutes sooner
  • Clot-dissolving drugs were administered 11 minutes sooner
  • tPA administration increased by 55% in rural areas

Building an effective telestroke program

While it’s proven that telestroke programs enable greater collaboration between providers and better access and care for patients, certain telehealth functionalities are essential for the seamless evaluation and treatment of patients.

Remote Physician Control of the Camera: Amwell’s telemedicine carts come with a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera to enhance video quality and control during remote consults. Remote far-end-camera-control on PTZ cameras allow neurologists to control the camera while examining the patient remotely.

Care Collaboration through Multiway Video: Giving physicians the option to add care team members, additional specialists or family members to a remote consult allows for better continuity of care and facilitates the right care for the stroke patient.

Real-Time PACs Imaging:  When evaluating and treating a stroke patient, physicians need rapid access to superior imaging, preferably all within the same platform to avoid multiple screens and log‑ins.

Integrated EMR History: Because stroke care must be administered quickly, it’s essential that physicians have patients’ records at their fingertips. Integrating the telestroke program with the EMR allows physicians to quickly view patient information before making medical decisions—creating a safe and comprehensive patient-provider experience.

These functionalities enable neurologists to provide care that is equivalent to in-person stroke care. To learn more about telestroke programs, or to request a demo of Amwell’s telestroke technology, click here.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Telemedicine Examples: Building Programs to Meet Specific Goals]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8779 2020-03-16T21:00:38Z 2018-09-06T18:17:03Z Top health systems and employers across the country have built robust telemedicine programs to meet their organizations’ unique goals. Here are telemedicine examples from two top health systems and a top employer, all of which demonstrate their unique approach to telehealth implementation.

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Telemedicine ExamplesThere is a lot that goes into a telemedicine program, from engaging providers to effectively marketing the service to patients and employees. Top health systems and employers across the country have built robust telemedicine programs to meet their organizations’ unique goals. Here are telemedicine examples from two top health systems and a top employer, all of which demonstrate their unique approach to telehealth implementation.

Beacon Health System has locations across Indiana and Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Even before adding telehealth to their services, they were already one of the biggest healthcare groups in the region. In 2017, Beacon Health System formed a governance group of all key stakeholders to launch a system-wide telemedicine program. The telemedicine program was rolled out in a multi-phased approach, and included the launch of a direct-to-consumer telehealth service, employer group strategy, site-to-site consults and provider-driven telehealth. One of Beacon Health System’s goals with its telemedicine program was to engage its providers. The health system took an innovative approach to provider adoption of telehealth by forming a provider test group. This test group included representation from a broad spectrum of specialties, including pediatrics, orthopedics, dermatology, and primary care, as well as a variety of day-today operations—available appointment spots, more administrative time, high volume of patients per hour, or mostly Medicaid patients. To learn how Beacon Health System ran these provider test groups, or to get more information on its strategy behind a system-wide telemedicine program, read the case study here.

Southwest Medical is another unique telemedicine example. Southwest Medical Associates (SMA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group and Optum, partnered with Amwell to launch a direct-to-consumer telemedicine service, SMA NowClinic. SMA deployed a forward-thinking in-clinic marketing strategy to promote telehealth to patients.  When patients enter a SMA clinic, they are greeted by rack cards, tri-fold brochures, floor vinyl signage and ceiling danglers all promoting SMA NowClinic. A television screen also shows wait times at the various urgent care clinics and compares it with the short wait times on SMA NowClinic. Through this type of marketing, SMA has had over 30,000 patients enroll in telehealth and more than 20,000 visits. For more information on SMA’s telemedicine program, including how they defined goals, piloted the program and engaged providers, read the case study.

Adecco offers a great telemedicine example for employers. Adecco is a global staffing firm with employees everywhere, but especially across the US. Though not a medical service provider themselves, they partner with Amwell to deliver their employees a convenient, cost-effective medical benefit. As of June 2018, 44% of Adecco’s employees have enrolled in the telemedicine benefit, and of those employees, 55% have had at least one online visit. Since launch, it’s estimated that Adecco has saved over $230,000 with telehealth. In addition to telehealth ROI, Adecco has seen high employee satisfaction with telehealth, as well as substantial time savings. To learn more about Adecco’s telemedicine benefit, including how they engage employees in the benefit, read the case study.

Whether your organization is a health system looking to better serve more patients or an employer searching for a convenient, low-cost medical benefit for employers, telehealth is a viable solution. For even more telemedicine examples visit our resources page, or contact us directly for more information.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Intermountain Healthcare Demonstrates Telehealth ROI]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8723 2020-03-16T21:01:25Z 2018-08-01T19:18:15Z Intermountain Healthcare discussed the ROI of telehealth from the perspective of an integrated health system

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During an Amwell-sponsored webinar hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review, Intermountain Healthcare discussed telehealth ROI for urgent care. In 2016, the health system partnered with Amwell to launch its telehealth service, Connect Care, to enhance patient convenience and care access; cut delivery costs; and retain and recruit patients.

Intermountain Healthcare encompasses 23 hospitals, 185 clinics, a medical group and a health plan division called SelectHealth. Intermountain approached its analysis of telehealth ROI from the perspective of an integrated health system. The telehealth ROI study included claims data from SelectHealth and accessed the telehealth program by analyzing each care setting’s episode cost, follow-up rate and utilization rate for labs, imaging and antibiotics.

The study revealed the prevalence of 21-day follow-up medical visits for each setting:

The telehealth ROI study documented lab, imaging and antibiotic use:

The study also revealed the total claims cost per episode in care settings within the 21-day timeframe:

“In the overall total costs, this is where the striking differences are and where we believe that our care we’re giving for those indicated conditions is appropriate. There’s a substantial opportunity for cost savings [in the virtual care setting],” says Dr. Joe Dalto, PhD, telehealth team senior data manager at Intermountain Healthcare.

By directing patients with appropriate conditions to virtual care, Intermountain Healthcare sees lower overall health plan cost and doesn’t see a higher rate of antibiotic claims or follow-up care.

“Health plan savings should be considered part of the overall value proposition to an integrated health system,” said Tim Lovell, MBA, Connect Care operations manager. “And this is where we see huge value and opportunity for us.”

To learn more about Intermountain’s telehealth ROI study, including the implications for an integrated system, listen to the webinar recording here. Intermountain’s Tim Lovell, MBA, Joe Dalto, PhD, and Jordan Albritton, PhD, share their study results, review the methods used in the study and share Intermountain’s model of defining value for online urgent care visits.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Pediatric Telehealth Success: Children’s Health, Children’s Omaha, Pediatric Associates]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8719 2020-03-16T21:02:13Z 2018-08-01T18:50:17Z Children's Health of Dallas, Children's Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha and Pediatric Associates discuss how their organizations are revamping care through pediatric telehealth.

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In a webinar sponsored by Amwell and hosted by Becker’s Hospital Review, Children’s Health of Dallas, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha and Pediatric Associates discussed how their organizations are revamping care through pediatric telehealth.

Children’s Health: Pediatric Telehealth as a vehicle for patient consumerism

For Children’s Health of Dallas, telehealth provides care access to both rural and urban patients, particularly for the Medicaid population.

Patients often have to take several bus rides or spend entire days traveling to one medical appointment, and nearly one in five Dallas County children are uninsured, prompting a number of patients to seek care in the health system’s emergency rooms.

“Quite a few of our telemedicine programs were started due to the high level of ER visits we receive,” says Tamara Perry, director of virtual health operations at the health system. “We had to begin shifting focus from patient care to consumer care, and technology is one of the easiest ways to reach our patients.”

Children’s Health, which began its pediatric telehealth program in 2013, now provides virtual care across numerous service lines, from blood disorders to school telehealth. The school telehealth system is implemented in more than 100 schools across Texas and is the largest school-based telehealth program in the country.

Children’s Health of Dallas has also expanded the reach of virtual visits through telehealth kiosks in local pharmacies and community residential sites. The health system partners with Dallas-based Dougherty’s Pharmacy on telehealth kiosks, with its first kiosk launching in 2016.

Learn more about Children’s Health’s telehealth program here.

Children’s Omaha: Expanding telepsychiatry care to rural communities

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha, which cares for more than 250,000 children annually, is using pediatric telehealth to address the limited access to psychiatric care in Nebraska.

“When we started thinking about telehealth about three years ago, our new CEO, who was an advocate for telehealth, guided us toward recruiting Dr. Jennifer McWilliams to lead as our physician champion for psychiatry,” said Michael Vance, PhD, director of behavioral health services at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center of Omaha.

For Jennifer McWilliams, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Children’s of Omaha’s department of behavioral health, telehealth serves as a tool to more easily connect patients to providers rather than entirely altering how providers deliver care.

The hospital’s virtual visits for psychiatry have significantly increased, with 600-plus telepsychiatry visits conducted since the program’s launch. “I provide care via telehealth about half the time but could easily begin providing care via telehealth 100 percent of the time,” says Dr. McWilliams.

“I’m providing pediatric psychiatry just the same as I would be if someone came to my office in person,” says Dr. McWilliams. “When I’m talking to other providers, I really emphasize that telemedicine is simply a tool. There are some aspects of evaluation that are more challenging when evaluating certain conditions via telehealth, but on the flipside, when dealing with patients who have experienced trauma or anxiety, they feel more comfortable seeing a provider virtually.”

Since its inception, the pediatric telehealth program helped reduce Children’s of Omaha’s follow-up no-show rates by 50 percent.

Read more about Children’s of Omaha’s telehealth program in this case study.

Pediatric Associates: Telehealth triage for ED diversion

Pediatric Associates, which cares for approximately 500,000 patients, implemented pediatric telehealth services to triage patients and help with ER diversion. Pediatric Associates providers staff the group’s telehealth system and created triage protocol to determine the best site of care for each patient to lower unnecessary ER visits.

“All of our appointments made through telehealth are triage-based, and patients can continue to be scheduled through our existing phone system,” says Amy Verlsteffen, director of the patient contact center for Pediatric Associates.

The group has four full-time telehealth physicians available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.

“Our focus is on growth and embracing managed care and value-based care,” said Scott Farr, COO of Pediatric Associates. “That’s been the key for developing this initiative around telehealth — it allows us to care for our patients in the most efficient way and providing them the greatest ability to access care.”

To learn more about Pediatric Associates triage-based pediatric telehealth program, click here.

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Kate Finkelston <![CDATA[Recognizing the Leaders of Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=8174 2020-03-16T21:03:05Z 2018-07-10T14:25:35Z At this year’s Client Forum, hosted in Boston, MA, Amwell recognized some of our trusted clients who have been extraordinary leaders throughout their telehealth journey. Clinical Innovation First in Clinical Innovation, we recognized achievements in clinical use cases, provider adoption and engagement and clinical workflows. It was only a few years ago that Children’s Health […]

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At this year’s Client Forum, hosted in Boston, MA, Amwell recognized some of our trusted clients who have been extraordinary leaders throughout their telehealth journey.

Clinical Innovation

First in Clinical Innovation, we recognized achievements in clinical use cases, provider adoption and engagement and clinical workflows. It was only a few years ago that Children’s Health was working alongside the Texas State Medical Board to legalize telehealth in the state. In addition to its robust urgent care services and school-based care program, Children’s Health has use cases like young women’s blood disorders live on its telehealth platform.

Pediatric Associates was also recognized for their triage telehealth program to successfully divert patients away from unnecessary emergency department visits. Their commitment in getting providers on board has been outstanding and a huge part of the reason they were given this award.

And the final award in this category goes to a long-time partner of Amwell’s. Cleveland Clinic deserved the recognition of Clinical Innovation for integrating telehealth into over 80 departments across its health system. Cleveland Clinic is a pioneer in adding new providers to its telehealth system.

Engagement Excellence

Next up: Engagement Excellence. This award recognizes success in engaging consumers and patient populations. WEA Trust serves Wisconsin public employers, their staffs and families, and through innovative giveaways and incentivized marketing—WEA Trust enrolled thousands of members in telehealth in less than a year.

Baptist Health South Florida was honored for all of the spent time at community engagement events, helping employees to download the app and training providers across multiple specialties. Thanks to their dedication to spreading this message, they are growing at an impressive rate, constantly striving to rethink healthcare in favor of their consumers and their community.

Also for Engagement Excellence, OSF HealthCare has seen continued success with their direct-to-consumer offering, which can be attributed to the different communication channels they have developed.

Integration Leadership

The Integration Leadership award recognizes those who have successfully managed integrating telehealth and building alignment within organizations. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has collaborated with local provider organizations to offer telehealth services to their patients. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina has been working alongside the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, a statewide collaboration of organizations, to expand telehealth services across the state.

UPMC has been a true partner since the start of our relationship; always eager and willing to partner on strategic initiatives. UPMC works closely with our Product Development team on partner integrations, helping us deliver value to all our clients.

CorVel seamlessly integrated telehealth into its Workers Compensation program. Corvel has successfully conducted a high volume of worker’s comp visits and has recently integrated a behavioral health and clinical pain management program into its offerings to support individuals at risk for pain medication addition.

Telehealth Maverick

The Telehealth Maverick award recognizes the forward-thinking innovators who have paved the way. The Mississippi State and School Employees Health Plan was a true maverick when they decided to incorporate telehealth into the state budget. Four years ago, Mississippi began gathering claims data, and more recently, biometrics data, and they have made these data actionable, using them to promote and propel telehealth adoption.

Concentra is utilizing telehealth to see injured workers immediately at employer work sites. Their telehealth program has been instrumental in addressing common pain points for occupational health, including delivering care to workers in remote areas, and providing round-the-clock care to employers who run 24/7 businesses.

Medical University of South Carolina understood that telemedicine needed to be a central component of the healthcare access options for their patient population. Today, MUSC provides a range of telehealth services across 463 distinct telehealth sites and has been spearheading telehealth for more than 12 years.

Key Connector

Finally, the Key Connector award recognizes clients who have consistently made meaningful connections within the ecosystem. Avera Health has always been willing to share and collaborate with other Amwell partners.

Intermountain Healthcare has joined Amwell’s Exchange and embodies a true leader in connecting the dots between telehealth and outcomes and has delivered a thoughtful ROI study to provide the industry with benchmark data when evaluating the cost of treatment across venues.

NewYork-Presbyterian doesn’t think about telehealth as a silo-ed initiative, but rather as a way to help their organization optimize care delivery and patient experience. They’ve launched programs across a variety of care settings, including emergency departments, inpatient facilities, pharmacies, schools, urgent care sites, and skilled-nursing facilities. NewYork-Presbyterian’s continued drive to continuously innovative to connect physicians remotely makes them an easy choice for the Key Connector award.

Congratulations to all of our award recipients – it’s a great honor to partner with each and every one of our clients. We sincerely thank you for your commitment to excellence.

Clinical Innovation:

  • Children’s Health
  • Pediatric Associates
  • Cleveland Clinic

Engagement Excellence:

  • WEA Trust
  • Baptist Health South Florida
  • OSF Healthcare

Integration Leadership:

  • BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina
  • UPMC
  • CorVel

Telehealth Maverick:

  • The Mississippi State and School Employees Health Plan
  • Concentra
  • Medical University of South Carolina

Key Connector:

  • Avera Health
  • Intermountain Healthcare
  • NewYork-Presbyterian

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Diabetes and Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/diabetes-and-telehealth/ 2020-03-16T21:03:44Z 2018-07-04T12:00:00Z Diabetes care has long since progressed to a state where self management is the normal course of action for adults and even many children. Through dietary controls, activity regimens, and automatic injectors with pre-measured doses of insulin, one might think there was little room for improvement. And yet there are still 14 million annual emergency […]

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Diabetes care has long since progressed to a state where self management is the normal course of action for adults and even many children. Through dietary controls, activity regimens, and automatic injectors with pre-measured doses of insulin, one might think there was little room for improvement. And yet there are still 14 million annual emergency department visits related to diabetes in the US and over 75 thousand deaths each year. With better monitoring, many of these would be preventable. Telehealth provides an effective, inexpensive option for measuring and controlling diabetes to those who need it most.

Diabetics who have been properly instructed by their healthcare professionals know all the times of the day and activities around which they are supposed to do spot checks on their blood sugar levels. However, even if these levels are recorded, they provide only a thin cross section of the person’s daily life. Telehealth gives the possibility of all day monitoring so that a whole day profile can be created to improve overall care. Existing technology is already in use for this very purpose. This approach has already been proven particularly effective among urban minorities, a population that is chronically underserved and among whom diabetes rates are climbing.

Integrating telehealth into diabetes care, whether a lifelong patient or newly diagnosed, can ease the strictures of lifestyle modifications that are required. That is, a series of smaller actions can be taken over time rather than a few big ones all at once. Among younger groups, it becomes just one more item in their smart device technological arsenal. And, as noted, the software can be integrated into existing general devices as well as be used through specialized equipment, and both come from qualified telehealth providers that will be there to assist patients and healthcare professionals alike with their needs.

A healthcare professional might reasonably ask about how telehealth can help older patients with their diabetes self-care. The answer is the same as for younger patients. There is ample evidence, both from studies and anecdotes, that senior citizens dislike change or doing something for no good reason they can easily see. However, this is changing. Every year, more seniors are going online, using smart devices, and interacting with an expanding world of relatives, friends, and colleagues. The age cohort at or near retirement age today were entering adulthood just as Neil Armstrong took his “one small step,” so integrating technology into their daily lives now is not the “giant leap” it might have been for generations before them.

Young and old, urban and rural, everyone with diabetes can potentially benefit from integrating telehealth into their self care regimen. Doing so will lower costs, ease the burdens of care, and save lives.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[The CHRONIC Care Act and Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/the-chronic-care-act-and-telehealth/ 2020-03-16T21:04:21Z 2018-06-20T15:08:00Z The CHRONIC Care Act (S.870) has recently passed the US Senate and the House will soon be taking action. The principal benefit here is that all Medicare- and Social Security-eligible people will be better able to access the care options that the packages guarantee and people should be able to access these programs with as few […]

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The CHRONIC Care Act (S.870) has recently passed the US Senate and the House will soon be taking action. The principal benefit here is that all Medicare- and Social Security-eligible people will be better able to access the care options that the packages guarantee and people should be able to access these programs with as few barriers as possible. They paid for them, after all. 

The primary focus is on assisting people with chronic conditions that require frequent if not constant attention. Two-thirds of people currently in the program currently have multiple chronic conditions. In the general population, right now about half of the population has some sort of chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. As our population ages, more and more will enter the Medicare system and we, as a nation and as healthcare providers, need to be ready.

Because chronic conditions can last for months and often whole lifetimes, continuity of care is a necessity for improving patient health outcomes and life expectancy. Collectively, chronic conditions account for 75% of all physician visits, 80% of hospital admissions, and 90% of prescriptions in the US. As more and more of the population ages, and begins experiencing age-related chronic illnesses, these numbers will only increase.

Telehealth makes all of this simpler, less expensive, and helps avoid unnecessary hospitalizations through the continuity of care it makes possible. These capabilities can be combined with the Independence at Home (IAH) part of the CHRONIC Care Act to help keep senior citizens in their homes longer where they are more comfortable and have more control over their lives. This works because staying at home, where a person has their family and friends nearby for support, helps improve adherence to medication and therapy regimens, thus benefitting them in both health outcome and quality of life.

This has become possible because of the expansion to telehealth services that the CHRONIC Care Act includes. The unanimous passage in the Senate means that they are all on board with the possibilities for care that telehealth is making possible. The Veterans Administration alone is already projecting a savings of $1 billion over the next 10 years from their partial roll out of telehealth services. Larger scale implementation, according to a CBO report, is projected to save just as much over the next decade.

This is good news for patients, healthcare professionals, and telehealth providers alike. But action is still needed in the House. The best way that this can be accomplished is by talking to Congress directly on Telehealth Lobby Day. If you are unable to go in person, you can contact them through phone and online routes.

Telehealth works. And it will work better once more people have access to it. The CHRONIC Care Act will make that possible.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth for Chronic Illnesses]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-for-chronic-illnesses/ 2020-03-16T21:04:59Z 2018-06-12T13:00:00Z One of the biggest problems for people with chronic illnesses is continuity of care. This has been acknowledged for decades. Fixing the gaps in knowledge from one healthcare professional to another has been shown to improve patient health outcomes. Ensuring continuity improves overall health, decreases hospitalizations, and in general work out better for everyone concerned. […]

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One of the biggest problems for people with chronic illnesses is continuity of care. This has been acknowledged for decades. Fixing the gaps in knowledge from one healthcare professional to another has been shown to improve patient health outcomes. Ensuring continuity improves overall health, decreases hospitalizations, and in general work out better for everyone concerned. Telehealth makes this process simpler, faster, and more accurate.

Rather than having to go over the entirety of a patient’s history with a new healthcare provider, telehealth can inform new doctors and nurses immediately, completely, and accurately on the health status and history of their patients. This is particularly true for those with chronic illnesses who live in rural areas where doctor and nurse turnover rates are highest.

Currently, chronic illnesses account for roughly 75% of all physician visits, 80% of all hospital admissions and 90% of all prescriptions. These numbers will only grow as 50% of all Americans are projected to suffer some form of chronic illness by 2025, ranging from COPD to HIV. These conditions are manageable in most cases, and continuity of care makes that process simpler while improving both life expectancy and quality.

Though telehealth is usually considered in terms of acute care, where its effectiveness is beyond dispute, it also has a role to play in long-term care for those with chronic illnesses. The continuity of care that telehealth initiatives make possible is a must in today’s world. Telehealth can improve the results of triage to determine if a new symptom is related to the underlying chronic illness or something entirely new as well as reduce costs of making that determination by as much as 30%. Further, greater support for the patient in monitoring their own health makes following a healthcare professional’s instructions much more likely.

Perhaps more importantly, in addition to supporting patients who already have chronic illnesses, telehealth continuity of care can help prevent their emergence in the first place. Putting together in one place all the information a patient’s various doctors have gives their primary healthcare professional a better way to gauge their overall health and see signs that might be missed. This has proven particularly true for older adults or those at risk for COPD and related illnesses. With the full view of a patient’s current health and medical history that telehealth makes possible, healthcare professionals can work with patients to take appropriate preventive actions before fully-fledged chronic illnesses are established.

At present, 45% of Americans, 133 million people, have some kind of chronic illness and that number is only expected to grow. Telehealth is a proven tool in both managing these illnesses and in helping to prevent them from developing in the first place. Adopting telehealth technologies now is the best tool to minimize negative patient health outcomes from chronic illnesses in the future.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth Launching and Scaling Up]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-launching-and-scaling-up/ 2020-03-17T19:17:06Z 2018-06-04T13:51:02Z According to a study by the Health Management Academy, 100% of responding healthcare professionals either already are or at least intend to begin promoting telehealth services in 2018. Better, more than 70% will be receiving reimbursements for services provided via telehealth by the end of the year. That number is expected to approach 100% by […]

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According to a study by the Health Management Academy, 100% of responding healthcare professionals either already are or at least intend to begin promoting telehealth services in 2018. Better, more than 70% will be receiving reimbursements for services provided via telehealth by the end of the year. That number is expected to approach 100% by 2020. And yet there are two major holdups: How to get started with offering such services and then expanding the system once it is implemented. In short, launching and scaling up.

Few, if any, still doubt the usefulness of telehealth. It provides both ease of access for patients needing health and the continuity of care that allows doctors to help ensure the best possible patient health outcomes. Telehealth also helps lower costs by avoiding unnecessary emergency department visits and reducing unexpected readmissions, among so many other things. That is, there are no reasons not to do it.

So how do you get started? At the risk of a truism, you just do it. There are dozens of quality smart device apps already available that meet FCC HIPAA standards for privacy. Younger patients are already using them and older groups are also increasingly comfortable with technology. If you want the full telehealth carts for use in your office, there are programs available to help pay for it and the FCC has proposed an expansion to make this step easier and less expensive. So, if you choose one route or both, there are plenty of inexpensive options already available.

Scaling up will involve a bit more in-depth work to do it right. What do your current patients’ need? What are their likely future needs? These and other important considerations must be taken into account when deciding on how to expand your current telehealth offerings. Fortunately, there is already a standard of interoperability and cybersecurity from the FDA. This means that all telehealth services and devices must be able to speak to one another and share information quickly and accurately over secure connections.

A hypothetical: You have a group of patients with mostly the same needs. So, you have purchased one telehealth cart with that in mind. Now, an older local practitioner has retired and you have taken on many of their patients, who have very different needs from your original group. A second telehealth setup for them may be necessary. If so, the two machines will be able to share information back and forth, or with apps on patients’ smart devices, as if they were one device. In many cases, though, this will not be needed. With a software update and perhaps a few new peripherals, some with price tags as little as $10, your original machine can now work for everyone. And, if needed, a small clinic’s telehealth devices can connect to those run by specialists or at full hospitals should emergency or other acute services be needed. So, while scaling up is already comparatively easy, it may not even be necessary. But finding out for sure will require some mental legwork.

Regarding launching telehealth services, your patients are probably already started in that direction. For scaling up, the process is mostly simple, relatively inexpensive, and requires only a bit of research. The only people who stand to lose out are those healthcare professionals who do nothing.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth Partnerships]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-partnerships/ 2020-03-17T19:17:27Z 2018-05-30T13:30:00Z Healthcare professionals may be asking themselves, “Who can I help through telehealth?” In some ways the field is limited only by your ingenuity, but a few markets are ready made. The three biggest are schools, employers, and correctional facilities. These groups also have the benefit of being able to see the same patients for years […]

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Healthcare professionals may be asking themselves, “Who can I help through telehealth?”

In some ways the field is limited only by your ingenuity, but a few markets are ready made. The three biggest are schools, employers, and correctional facilities. These groups also have the benefit of being able to see the same patients for years in a row. And, if a telehealth professional sets up an agreement with a statewide agency, you can work with the same system over a much larger area, which helps states rein in costs in an era of budget cutting.

So, all three groups benefit:

  • Healthcare professionals expand their reach.
  • Three distinct population groups get access to medical care they otherwise would lack.
  • States can save money.

For our examples, Texas is a solid benchmark state which already has the advantage of the second highest overall population in the country. Public school enrollment is approaching 5.5 million, or about 1 in 9 of the nation’s total. Access to pediatricians in person is a serious problem, so visiting a school nurse may be the only primary care the child sees, and they are already handling an unprecedented variety of new maladies in their students, so it makes sense to work with them to secure telehealth access for all those students. Telehealth has already been shown to work in this context for almost every situation. Of the three groups, school children represent the population most likely to be helped by telehealth. Further, the student’s records will follow them as they move up within the grades of a given district, or experience a lateral move to another, guaranteeing continuity of care even if the on-site nurse changes jobs. This is part of why looking at statewide agencies is so important.

Moving on to employers, almost all are required to include some sort of healthcare insurance as part of their benefits package to more than 11.5 million working age Texans. Such coverage typically applies to whole families, meaning that records could easily transfer from one healthcare professional to another if both school and employer have telehealth access. While such access obviously benefits the children, it also benefits the employer’s bottom line. This is why so many are already including telehealth options in their coverage. If you weigh the cost of adding telehealth coverage to an existing insurance policy against work lost and poor performance while at work due to illness, it more than balances out.

Prisoners comprise the third major group. There are the obvious logistical and security concerns of bringing a healthcare professional into the institutional setting and still others with taking a prisoner to the hospital. Many prisoners’ maladies stem from mental health problems, which may be a large part of the reason they are incarcerated. This group is also quite large. The Texas prison population is larger than the total population of the 30 smallest states. Here, integration of telehealth may be the simplest because the University of Texas Medical Branch, which oversees 80% of Texas prisoners, already uses telehealth. The health care network is already in place, you just have to join. And, as with the other two groups, telehealth lowers costs. Just in the area of telebehavioral health, each prison saves about $106,000 a year.

There are populations that need medical attention as much as any other. Some of them have special problems, like moving between schools or being incarcerated for years on end. Telehealth has already shown how their situation can improve and the infrastructure is often already in place.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Integrating Telehealth into Existing Practice]]> https://www.americanwell.com/integrating-telehealth-into-existing-practice/ 2020-03-17T19:18:12Z 2018-05-23T14:16:00Z It hardly needs be said that change can be scary. It can also appear to be expensive and difficult. Despite all that, almost half of all healthcare professionals intend to integrate telehealth into their practice by 2020. They are doing so for a number of reasons, including better relationships with their patients and improved patient […]

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It hardly needs be said that change can be scary. It can also appear to be expensive and difficult. Despite all that, almost half of all healthcare professionals intend to integrate telehealth into their practice by 2020.

They are doing so for a number of reasons, including better relationships with their patients and improved patient health outcomes. This works because app users are more engaged in their day to day health needs with interaction via their smart devices. From a user perspective, patients are already accessing a wide array of health apps, from workout evaluations to cardiac monitors. Most of the more than 10,000 apps are generic and not strictly speaking scientific in nature, but there are available apps that doctors endorse for their patients with specific conditions. These are the ones that matter.

In many respects, doctors and patients are already engaging with one another via telehealth: Emails, phone calls, online lab results, and so on. The beauty of choosing an app is that it centralizes all that contact in one location and guarantees a continuity of records. That is, instead of trying to integrate patient information from a dozen different platforms into a coherent whole, a good app can do it for healthcare professionals all at once. Further, in big practices, telehealth apps will make sure that different practitioners working with the same patient will all be fully informed on what everyone is doing. Thus, it fosters the team environment that has been proven so critical to positive patient health outcomes. It is also important to make sure a practice offering telehealth options understands the needs of their patients and how they interact with modern health technologies. That is, it is just as important to know what a given healthcare professional wants to make available via telehealth as it is to ensure patients know what their options are. Choosing the right telehealth provider is integral to success.

And, perhaps best of all for those wary of change, there is no need to jump in head first as the telehealth integration process begins. In fact, a methodical, planned out phase-in strategy is highly recommended. This helps both healthcare professionals and their patients as they acclimate to the new systems and openings for care. Once a given stage has proven successful and telehealth becomes normalized, it can easily expand via modular offerings.

Overall, change toward telehealth is a good thing for health professionals and patients alike. Concerns will be addressed in the early stages of implementation, and it is through the staged rollout that practitioners can find the best way to help their patients.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth For Stroke]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-for-stroke/ 2020-03-17T19:18:55Z 2018-05-16T12:00:00Z Stroke is an increasing reality for more Americans today, young and old alike. Almost 800 thousand people suffer strokes in our country each year and 75% are first occurrences. Of the total, 140 thousand people will die as a result of the stroke or its attendant complications. While there are known risk factors, there are literally […]

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Stroke is an increasing reality for more Americans today, young and old alike. Almost 800 thousand people suffer strokes in our country each year and 75% are first occurrences. Of the total, 140 thousand people will die as a result of the stroke or its attendant complications. While there are known risk factors, there are literally no precursor signs that can tell when a stroke is about to occur. It can only be seen in the moment it occurs and sometimes even then neither the person suffering it nor those around them can tell.

Stroke, more formally called central nervous system infarction, results from loss of blood flow to the brain, whether from a blockage (ischemic) or from a blood vessel rupture (hemorrhagic). As can be easily imagined, time is a factor in treatment. With each moment wasted, the quality of life for the stroke survivor worsens and the likelihood of death from stroke increases. Ischemic diseases, which include stroke, are the leading casue of death worldwide and fourth in the US. Within the US, stroke mortality rates are highest in the rural South, where almost 80% of the population lives more than half an hour away from an emergency department with a neurologist available.

Through telehealth, once the process is started, a response can be had in as little as 3 minutes with a diagnostic accuracy as high as 96%. If triaged in an ambulance before reaching the emergency department, diagnosis and treatment can begin even sooner with the added benefit of cost savings of up to 70%. Part of that quick treatment is a “clot buster” drug known as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). At present, only 3%-5% of stroke patients receive it because it is only effective if administered in the first 3 hours after stroke onset, and it is even more effective if done in the first hour. But this is impossible if an emergency department has neither an on-staff neurologist nor access to telehealth. Amid sweeping and continued cuts to rural health budgets, telehealth is quite possibly the only answer.

How do we know that telehealth works? Because in almost 75% of cases where telehealth was available for stroke patients, tPA was administered within its effective time window. Those patients who receive anti-clotting medications in the early minutes of their stroke showed a 250% better recovery at the 3-month mark than those who did not.

Even for the 80% of stroke patients who survive, behavioral, cognitive, and physical impairment can last for anywhere from weeks to a lifetime. With the quick administration of tPA that telehealth makes possible through its quick, accurate consultation services, those effects can be minimized or even eliminated. Meanwhile, it enables a massive drop in the estimated $1 billion per day the US expends in care for stroke victims and lost economic activity.

Whether taking a purely utilitarian view of dollars and cents, or a human view of moral sense, telehealth is the way to go in the future of stroke care.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Stroke -New ATA Guidelines]]> https://www.americanwell.com/stroke-new-ata-guidelines/ 2020-03-17T19:19:27Z 2018-05-09T12:00:00Z ATA’s New Guidelines for Treating Stroke Patients: What you need to know As the fifth most common cause of death and the leading cause of long-term adult disability in the world, strokes pose a widespread public health dilemma. And while many studies have proven the viability of using telehealth services to rapidly address patient needs, […]

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ATA’s New Guidelines for Treating Stroke Patients: What you need to know

As the fifth most common cause of death and the leading cause of long-term adult disability in the world, strokes pose a widespread public health dilemma. And while many studies have proven the viability of using telehealth services to rapidly address patient needs, providing cohesive care between facilities is a critical component that needs to be addressed.

A recent study by Kaiser Permanente said, “Particularly in hospitals with limited local resources and/or limited access to neurologic expertise, telestroke is an important tool to aid in the evaluation and treatment of potential stroke. We specifically found that unwarranted hospital variability in stroke care could be eliminated through a standardized telestroke program.”

As telehealth’s stroke treatment use continues to grow, Avizia remains committed to ensuring physicians and executives are informed regarding current industry standards. That is why we are sharing the Recent Stroke Guidelines from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) regarding stroke treatment. Overall, this document aims to provide a standardized approach to assessment, diagnosis, management and consultative support to patients exhibiting symptoms and signs that are consistent with acute stroke syndrome.

The new ATA guidelines also address the roles and responsibilities of the responding telehealth team and provide hospital executives with recommendations for seamlessly incorporating telestroke services into their model of care. Furthermore, the guide paper states agreed-upon roles for coordinating telehealth are important for support and buy-in of key stakeholders, like the hub/distant site physician director, the program manager, the emergency department stroke champion and other roles.

Beyond the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information for Economics and Critical Health Act (HITECH), ATA’s guidelines encourage facilities to address privacy and security needs for each of its patients. It also states the importance of providing this information to acute stroke patient families and educating patients about the role of telestroke platforms, including any translation services they may need.

The guidelines encourage facilities to also create an ongoing telemedicine budget, so they may stay on top of hardware and software upgrades and address payer reimbursements, grants, private contributions and other fiscal items as they arise.

Perhaps most importantly, telehealth providers also need to have a concrete process to monitor quality and outcome metrics. In addition to ongoing patient care, the document discusses protocols for research and clinical trials. The guidelines recommend research activities should compare telemedicine with in-person evaluations and should conform to local institutional review board approval practices.

As for telehealth devices themselves, the guidelines say facilities must provide real-time, two-way communications, optimized for bandwidth and monitored for general mobile device management – this includes oversight of apps, data configuration, and security. Devices must also have a passcode, biometric identification or other login protocols and should be configured for point-to-point and, ideally, multiparty connectivity. Organizations looking to use telestroke should consider creating data policy and procedures regarding storage, restrictions and how those are communicated to the referring or consulting site.

As telehealth evolves into a more mature healthcare solution, the industry needs a set of guidelines like the ones created by ATA to ensure cohesive care between facilities. We at Avizia are encouraged by these updated standards and the bright future they detail for the future of virtual care.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Why telemedicine is a great option for Medicaid recipients]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7678 2020-03-17T19:21:57Z 2018-03-05T16:45:33Z We've found that the barrier to introducing telemedicine through Medicaid has not been technology, but has been reimbursement. Or, rather, the confusion around reimbursement.

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Think convenient health care is only for the wealthy? Think again.

Medicaid recipients often have significant barriers to care

Throughout my residency, I worked in a primary care clinic that was in one of the poorest areas of Boston. Fully two-thirds of our patients were on Medicaid, and many came from families that had unstable work, transportation, housing, and access to food. It was not uncommon for many of our appointments during the day to be “no-shows,” which we defined as the patient showing up more than an hour late, only to have distraught families appear at the end of the day, apologizing for late buses, unforgiving managers at work, and other life circumstances largely out of their control, but still a staple of day-to-day life.

Many of these appointments were scheduled to follow up from previous and ongoing care. We had learned that keeping a close tab on the children in our clinic meant that they were less likely to fall through the cracks with lapsed medication, end up in the emergency room for what could be routine care, or end up admitted to the hospital for what otherwise would have been preventable illnesses. If we had a child newly diagnosed with asthma, for example, we would have him come back into the clinic a few weeks in a row, to make sure that his parents had picked up the correct medication, that he was using it correctly, and that the dose of the medication was correct to keep the asthma symptoms in check. Sometimes parents didn’t have enough money to pay for both an inhaler that keeps kids from having an asthma attack as well as an inhaler that helps rescue a child from an asthma attack, although both are necessary for good care.

Traditional means of accessing health care is often time and resource intensive

Each of these visits was a significant burden on the family. The parent would often have to miss work (usually meaning those hours went unpaid) and the child would also have to miss school. Many families took more than one bus to get to the clinic, making a 15-minute appointment a several hour-long venture. The hours we had available were always during the day and during the week, so the option of trying to schedule around a day job was essentially impossible. In short, we were trying to do our best by our patients, but in the process, were causing major disruptions to their health and well-being. In the end, I truly believe that on balance we were helping more than hurting, but I always wondered if there were some way that we could have brought them the same level of care and attention, without the negative side effects of having them bend their lives around a health care system centered on the provider.

Advances in telemedicine can make accessing appropriate health care easier

Fast-forward a few years, and I find myself on the front-line of health care innovation. At Amwell, we use the technology that most people are used to having in many areas of their lives (talking to others through video, scheduling appointments online, being able to conveniently log into a mobile app), to connect health care providers and patients quickly and easily, without requiring patients to re-wire their day for a trip into the office. I recently heard someone say, “Patients have a workflow too. It’s called Life.” That comment really resonated with me, from not only my own life and the expectations I have, but also for my many former patients who were trying to do the right thing, but just couldn’t get their life aligned with my workflow.

 

“Patients have a workflow too. It’s called Life.”

 

With telemedicine, we work consistently to make the most appropriate care also the most accessible care for all patients. For Medicaid recipients who use our technology, that often means that we treat people at home who otherwise would have gone to the emergency room, because historically the emergency room has been the easiest way to get care. Very few people actually want to spend hours waiting at an emergency room, but previously there wasn’t a great alternative for someone who may need care unpredictably and at any hour. But when some partners of Amwell let their populations receiving Medicaid know that they can now access urgent care from home, they found that patients were more than happy to use a service that kept them out of the ED. It was a win for everyone!

Technology is not the limiting factor

When I talk about using telemedicine for patients who receive Medicaid, one of the first questions is always around access to technology. Do people with lower incomes actually have the type of phone or computer that could allow them to see a physician online? The answer is “Absolutely, yes.” The Pew Research Center actually tracks statistics like these, and they found that in 2017, 67% of people with incomes of $30k or less have a smartphone. In fact, in 2016, 21% of those who earn $30k or less are smartphone dependent, meaning that they have a smartphone but not broadband internet at home.

Anecdotally, we’ve had partner health systems tell us that their Medicaid populations are actually the most savvy about finding free sources of wifi, and often know how to make video calls through this free wifi alone, saving them any data usage or call minute fees. Generally, we’ve found that the barrier to introducing telemedicine through Medicaid has not been technology, but has been reimbursement. Or, rather, the confusion around reimbursement.

 

“Generally, we’ve found that the barrier to introducing telemedicine through Medicaid has not been technology, but has been reimbursement.”

 

Reimbursement through Medicaid is varied, but favorable

Unlike Medicare (which is for people over the age of 65), a federally administered program, Medicaid is administered by states. This design means that every state has slightly different rules for what they allow Medicaid to cover. Not only that, but states are regularly updating what they will and will not cover. So if you don’t like your state’s Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine, just wait 5 minutes, it will likely change.

The good news is that as of the time of writing this post, almost all states have favorable reimbursement policies for telemedicine, with 48 states reimbursing for live video. Many even pay the same for visits that happen through live video as ones that happen in person (parity). Since changes to reimbursement are happening all the time, it’s best to go to a site such at the Center for Connected Health Policy to find out what’s happening in your state.

How to start using telemedicine for Medicaid recipients

Telemedicine is medicine, just using technology to make it easier and more convenient. This principle holds just as true for populations receiving Medicaid, as for any other population.

So, if you’re wondering how to introduce telemedicine and whether or not it’s covered under your state’s Medicaid program, go to the Center for Connected Health Policy website to look up reimbursement regulations, and then set up any programs that would benefit patients if their care were delivered where they needed it most. From urgent care to chronic disease management, health care is only effective if it reaches the patient. My patients already had enough standing in the way of reaching me, I’m happy to be tearing down at least some of those barriers.

Sylvia Romm, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician and VP of Medical Affairs at Amwell. She lives with her family in New York City.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Bipartisan Budget Deal Expands Funding for Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/bipartisan-budget-deal-expands-funding-for-telehealth/ 2020-03-17T19:22:16Z 2018-02-12T19:42:00Z The end of last week turned out to be a bit of a rollercoaster as the US Congress attempted to pass their 2018 budget plan, thereby avoiding yet another government shutdown. In the very late hours of Thursday night, things were looking rather bleak as a government shutdown activated for the second time in less […]

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The end of last week turned out to be a bit of a rollercoaster as the US Congress attempted to pass their 2018 budget plan, thereby avoiding yet another government shutdown. In the very late hours of Thursday night, things were looking rather bleak as a government shutdown activated for the second time in less than a month. Luckily, the shutdown did not last long (only about five hours, in fact). The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) had already been passed in the House of Representatives with a vote of 240 in favor and 186 opposed. While certainly not an overwhelming majority, it was enough to get the bill moved on to the Senate, which is where it hit a snag as a number of both Democrat and Republican Senators refused to support it. Lawmakers worked through the night, however, and by the very early hours of Friday morning, they managed to pull it all together. The US Senate managed to approve the bill by a close vote, cutting the shutdown short in time to minimize any negative effects. Shortly thereafter, President Trump signed the budget into law.

Politics aside, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) includes four significant provisions that will greatly improve the delivery and expansion of telehealth services in the United States:

50302 – Expanding Access to Home Dialysis Therapy

  • This provision allows Medicare beneficiaries an option by which they may elect to receive in-home dialysis monthly as well as ESRD-related clinical assessments via telehealth services.

50323 – Increasing Convenience for Medicare Advantage Enrollees through Telehealth

  • This provision states that, beginning in plan year 2020, a new medial assistant plan may be able to provide additional telehealth benefits to Medicare enrollees.

50324 – Providing Accountable Care Organizations the Ability to Expand the Use of Telehealth

  • Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will now be able to waive restrictions on the use of telehealth from 1834(m) of the Social Security Act, which placed limits on how and under what conditions telehealth services could be used by beneficiaries.

50325 – Expanding the Use of Telehealth for Individuals with Stroke

  • Further expanding the use of Telestroke services, this provision waives 1834(m) restrictions on the treatment of stroke through telehealth services.

While many may be feeling frustrated with our current political climate, it is at least somewhat heartening to know that the use of modern telehealth technology continues to improve and expand, allowing providers and physicians to speed care when it is needed most. For stroke victims, expedited treatment means better odds at survival and improved chances for high quality of life after.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[School-based Telehealth  Improves Health Outcomes]]> https://www.americanwell.com/school-based-telehealth-improves-health-outcomes/ 2020-03-17T19:23:04Z 2018-01-16T14:00:00Z It’s no secret consumers are embracing technology in nearly every aspect of their lives—even healthcare. As it turns out, according to a new study by the University of Rochester not only is telehealth access improving child health both in schools and at home, children are responding positively to it in all manner of settings. One […]

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It’s no secret consumers are embracing technology in nearly every aspect of their lives—even healthcare. As it turns out, according to a new study by the University of Rochester not only is telehealth access improving child health both in schools and at home, children are responding positively to it in all manner of settings.

One of the most common childhood health concerns is asthma, with roughly 1-in-10 children experiencing it at some point in their lives.

The wheezing, the struggle for breath, the confusion, they’re all distressing for child and parent alike. But before treatment can begin, which can successfully handle almost all symptoms via preventative medicine in combination with immediate measures, there must be a diagnosis. Minority children and those in other underserved communities largely are not receiving treatment, though this is true to some extent for all groups. This inevitably leads to preventable visits to emergency departments.

The study by the University of Rochester has shown that, through a blend of in-person care from school nurses and telehealth access at home, have better health results. The important factor is whether the child takes their medicine with supervision from a trained healthcare professional. At schools, this is done in the presence of a nurse who can ensure inhalers and other medications are properly administered. At home, though, even with help from a parent or guardian, delivery may be less than best. Telehealth access at home bridges that gap. Over the course of the study, emergency department visits for asthma-related health concerns were reduced by more than half and generally had more symptom-free days. Better, the most common participant in the home aspect of the study were school nurses or the child’s existing primary care provider. This means that established relationships, which are important in fostering trust and medicine regimen compliance, are strengthened.

To be direct, with the simple addition of telehealth to existing school nursing practice, kids with asthma were healthier, in school more often, and experienced fewer problems.

More and more hospitals and clinics are already using telehealth in pediatric care, for asthma and everything else, to the point that it is becoming the new normal. Almost two-thirds of parents surveyed indicated not just that they are willing to use telehealth but actually eager to do so. Better, multiple states have already awarded massive grants for pediatric telehealth, especially in “healthcare deserts.” So, in addition to working, pediatric telehealth is increasingly affordable.

Parents, healthcare professionals, and school leaders alike need to be paying attention to telehealth. It’s not the wave of the future. It’s now.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Building Strategic Telehealth Partnerships: Community Health Clinics ]]> https://www.americanwell.com/building-strategic-telehealth-partnerships-community-health-clinics/ 2020-03-17T19:23:52Z 2018-01-09T14:00:00Z Today, many community clinics lack the resources necessary to secure their records online. As a result, these clinics often choose to continue maintaining paper records. However, this can be problematic in a number of ways, from the required space to security issues. In fact, not knowing how to properly use a computer has cost at […]

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Today, many community clinics lack the resources necessary to secure their records online. As a result, these clinics often choose to continue maintaining paper records. However, this can be problematic in a number of ways, from the required space to security issues. In fact, not knowing how to properly use a computer has cost at least one doctor her license to practice. As more and more state and federal funding programs include electronic filing and reporting requirements, the healthcare professionals that arguably have the most contact with the communities they serve may be left behind and put out of business if things stay as they are now.

Community health centers and the programs they offer are often the most frequent healthcare professional contact people have, in part because a majority of patients are below the poverty line. Supporting these centers has the backing of virtually all elements of the American political and social spectrum, left and right alike. Why? The details differ based on whom you ask, but they all boil down to one thing: Because they work.

These establishments benefit not just the communities they serve, but the greater good as well by spotting potential epidemics before they happen. For obvious reasons, this is far less expensive in the long run. It is not, however, so inexpensive that switching to electronic recordkeeping is an obvious choice when prioritizing care, despite the fact that such measures have been shown to improve patient health outcomes. As time goes on, though, the requirements to do so will become stricter. This is why action needs to be taken now in order to keep these centers open so they can continue to help the largest number of people possible with their healthcare needs. Supporting these centers is as much common sense as a policy question as it is a good neighbor question.

There is good news on the horizon, though. With the boost in their finances provided by wider access to health insurance via the Affordable Care Act, such centers are improving their financial position while emphasizing care for those who need it most. Collaborating with all the stakeholders in a community, as is the case in supporting community health centers, is part of belonging to the social body. It is precisely this mindset of social responsibility that informs the actions taken by healthcare professionals at these centers in the first place. So, with just a little help, these centers can break through the few remaining barriers to adopting telehealth capacities for their patients. Everyone benefits.

Community health clinics are the bulwark of the modern medical system. They are the centerpieces in our fight against diseases. And they are mostly succeeding. But they need a little help. Working with them to improve their telehealth access both improves patient outcomes and means continued access to state and federal funding programs. If you want to have a positive effect on the nation’s health, helping these folks is the best way to start.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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kelly.miller <![CDATA[Avera eCARE connects diabetic student to registered nurse within seconds]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7520 2018-01-08T21:04:19Z 2018-01-05T21:20:05Z As the number of children in the United States with significant health challenges rises, so does the need to provide experienced nursing care within schools. Avera eCARE School Health partners with K-12 school districts to provide registered nurse coverage for the entire school day – ensuring immediate response to the health care needs of every […]

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As the number of children in the United States with significant health challenges rises, so does the need to provide experienced nursing care within schools.

Avera eCARE School Health partners with K-12 school districts to provide registered nurse coverage for the entire school day – ensuring immediate response to the health care needs of every student.

Within seconds, 8-year-old Aiden Knutson is connected to an Avera eCare nurse – Aiden at school in Toronto, the nurse in Sioux Falls.

“That’s part of why we’re here buddy, is we want to help you learn how to manage your diabetes so that you can do all of this stuff on your own someday,” said an Avera eCare nurse.

Like most rural school districts, there isn’t an onsite nurse at Deubrook Elementary in the small town of Toronto. So when Aiden was diagnosed with diabetes in June of 2017, his grandmother Carie Knuston worried about Aiden going back to school.

“I was like, are they going to be able to handle this and is it going to disrupt his class time and his activity level with the other kids,” said Knuston.

Deubrook Elementary principal Mitch Reid knew a higher level of care was imperative for Aiden. He says Avera eCARE made the most sense.

“It definitely gives us that sense of relief. With something that’s so serious as diabetes, having someone trained is huge for us and huge for him. And now he’s not always focused on what he needs and what he’s getting. He’ll let the nurse take care of that and he can focus on his education,” said Reid.

The Avera eCARE nurse provides great comfort for Aiden’s grandma.

“Having that eCARE service and knowing that somebody is available at any point in time, because right now we’re still in the state of learning ourselves. His blood sugar goes up and down. So having them available to answer questions or make suggestions or say you need to call the doctor because of this or that has been really nice,” said Knuston.

“For districts out there that are looking for that person, that expert for medical reasons, it really takes a lot of pressure off us,” said Reid.

“They help me get my shot and they tell me how much I need sometimes,” said Aiden.

“That was my main concern, one of the concerns too, is he not going to be able to do anything when he has diabetes and it’s just the opposite. You do everything you can to possibly make it available so that he can still be a kid,” said Knuston.

Not only does Deubrook Elementary utilize the Avera eCARE nurse for Aiden, but they also use it for everything from bumps and bruises to fevers.

View the original article and video from KSFY here. 

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth Needs Net Neutrality]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-needs-net-neutrality/ 2020-03-17T19:24:27Z 2018-01-03T14:00:00Z You may have heard a bit about the recent FCC repeal of net neutrality. This was done on a purely partisan basis led by Chairman Ajit Pai, who is perhaps not the most public relations-minded chair the commission has ever had. Pai’s case is not helped by the fact he knew his arguments in favor […]

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You may have heard a bit about the recent FCC repeal of net neutrality. This was done on a purely partisan basis led by Chairman Ajit Pai, who is perhaps not the most public relations-minded chair the commission has ever had. Pai’s case is not helped by the fact he knew his arguments in favor of repeal were not entirely true. You may have heard a good many doomsayers with their predictions about what would happen. They are correct except that it will be done in bits and pieces rather than overnight. How do we know this? Internet service providers (ISPs) have tried it before. So, this blog is intended to be a real look at what neutrality is, how the repeal works, and why the change is bad for everyone involved with telehealth.

Net neutrality has been an underlying assumption of how online traffic would flow from its very inception as a civilian infrastructure resource. How do we know this? Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the grandfather of the internet, told us so. The idea is that an ISP has to carry traffic, called packets, regardless of the source, destination, or content. Without neutrality, they can “read” the information sent and slow it down or prevent delivery entirely. We know this because they have all done so at least once in the past.

Before the implementation of neutrality laws in 2015, there was a legal gray area and several firms tried breaching neutrality. Their efforts were quickly shut down. The reasons these companies cited were because they wanted to sell special streaming packages for video, the content was political in nature, and they wanted to quash innovative competition. In Canada, a similar effort had a telecommunications company blocking the site of a union then in a dispute with it. So, net neutrality repeal is great if you have no qualms about your ISP telling you what you can read or view and how quickly. But if you want access to a wide array of news on science, politics, arts, and other things that might be seen as contrary to your ISP’s interest, and especially their political connections, the repeal should have your hackles raised.

For telehealth specifically, the major concern is the ability to stream large amounts of real-time information from one user to another. In healthcare, especially emergencies, seconds matter. Repeal is almost certain to make telehealth use much more expensive for everyone. Mike Baird, Avizia CEO, has said, “For example, if internet service providers begin to prioritize certain types of traffic or demand higher fees for priority routing of things like a video consultation – this will add costs to the delivery of telemedicine – particularly hospitals in rural areas. Ultimately these costs get passed on to patients and will hamper the adoption of technologies like telehealth.” This is optimistic. ISPs have done exactly that before 2015 and did it again this year in anticipation of repeal. Repeal will raise costs to telehealth users, meaning fewer people have access to healthcare, meaning more people will die who could have been saved. This is just one of many Trump Administration changes that guarantee more people who are not among the ultra-wealthy like he is will die for no other reason than because they are poor by his standards.

But there is still hope. Congress has the power to tell the FCC to reinstate neutrality. ISPs have made contributions to 265 sitting members in both Houses of Congress and the FCC ignored the 83% of Americans who opposed repeal. Contact your Representatives and Senators and tell them to reinstate net neutrality.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Beyond Marketing Awareness: Telehealth and Your Patients]]> https://www.americanwell.com/beyond-marketing-awareness-telehealth-and-your-patients/ 2020-03-17T19:24:56Z 2017-12-28T14:00:00Z Many of your patients already use telehealth in some sense even if they may not know the word for it. 80% of all Americans use online resources to look up health information and “cyberchondria” is already a concern among mental healthcare professionals. What you, as a healthcare professional, have to do is find the healthy […]

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Many of your patients already use telehealth in some sense even if they may not know the word for it. 80% of all Americans use online resources to look up health information and “cyberchondria” is already a concern among mental healthcare professionals. What you, as a healthcare professional, have to do is find the healthy middle ground that lets you reach your patients, and interested parties generally, while ensuring that the information you provide is correct and likely to bring in people who genuinely need your help.

As with almost everything else online, this starts with Google. More than 75% of people who go online for health information start there or another of the big search engine sites. This means working out search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for what you do. There are plenty of websites out there that offer advice on how to do this on your own, but frankly the smart money is on hiring a professional. SEO techniques can be tricky and counterintuitive and may be outside your experience. So, hire a pro and get back to being an awesome doctor or nurse. Many telehealth providers will already have them on.

In person communication with your patients is a different story. You will always be your own best salesperson and face-to-face communication is still the strongest way to convey not just the information itself but also its importance. Among older patients, this remains a central point. They want to talk to someone. That said, today’s retirees watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon so they know the power of technology and are adopting it in droves.

Younger patients are already online for health and everything else. There is even some evidence that they may prefer mediated communication over face-to-face interaction. But they still have to talk to a person. A good bit of work has already been done in wearable and other smart devices that can track the health of a patient, or alert a healthcare professional if an emergency crops up. But it is unlikely artificial intelligence will replace humanity in this field in the foreseeable future. So, young, old, or in between, you will still have to talk to your patients.

Whatever the audience or the medium, talking to your patients openly and honestly is still your best bet.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[2018 Top Trend: Telehealth Launch and Expansion]]> https://www.americanwell.com/2018-top-trend-telehealth-launch-and-expansion/ 2020-03-17T19:25:19Z 2017-12-19T14:00:00Z According to a study by the Health Management Academy, 100% of responding healthcare professionals either already are or at least intend to begin promoting telehealth services in 2018. Better, more than 70% will be receiving reimbursements for services provided via telehealth by the end of the year. That number is expected to approach 100% by […]

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According to a study by the Health Management Academy, 100% of responding healthcare professionals either already are or at least intend to begin promoting telehealth services in 2018. Better, more than 70% will be receiving reimbursements for services provided via telehealth by the end of the year. That number is expected to approach 100% by 2020. And yet there are two major holdups: How to get started with offering such services and then expanding the system once it is implemented. In short, launching and scaling up.

Few, if any, still doubt the usefulness of telehealth. It provides both ease of access for patients needing health and the continuity of care that allows doctors to help ensure the best possible patient health outcomes. Telehealth also helps lower costs by avoiding unnecessary emergency department visits and reducing unexpected readmissions, among so many other things. That is, there are no reasons not to do it.

Getting Started with Telehealth

So how do you get started? At the risk of a truism, you just do it. There are dozens of quality smart device apps already available that meet FCC HIPAA standards for privacy. Younger patients are already using them and older groups are also increasingly comfortable with technology. If you want the full telehealth carts for use in your office, there are programs available to help pay for it and the FCC has proposed an expansion to make this step easier and less expensive. So, if you choose one route or both, there are plenty of inexpensive options already available.

Expanding Your Telehealth Program

Scaling up will involve a bit more in-depth work to do it right. What do your current patients’ need? What are their likely future needs? These and other important considerations must be taken into account when deciding on how to expand your current telehealth offerings. Fortunately, there is already a standard of interoperability and cybersecurity from the FDA. This means that all telehealth services and devices must be able to speak to one another and share information quickly and accurately over secure connections.

A hypothetical: You have a group of patients with mostly the same needs. So, you have purchased one telehealth cart with that in mind. Now, an older local practitioner has retired and you have taken on many of their patients, who have very different needs from your original group. A second telehealth setup for them may be necessary. If so, the two machines will be able to share information back and forth, or with apps on patients’ smart devices, as if they were one device. In many cases, though, this will not be needed. With a software update and perhaps a few new peripherals, some with price tags as little as $10, your original machine can now work for everyone. And, if needed, a small clinic’s telehealth devices can connect to those run by specialists or at full hospitals should emergency or other acute services be needed. So, while scaling up is already comparatively easy, it may not even be necessary. But finding out for sure will require some mental legwork.

Regarding launching telehealth services, your patients are probably already started in that direction. For scaling up, the process is mostly simple, relatively inexpensive, and requires only a bit of research. The only people who stand to lose out are those healthcare professionals who do nothing.

What large U.S. health systems said about 5 top health IT trends

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[How top health systems deliver high-quality care through telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7492 2020-03-17T19:25:45Z 2017-12-11T14:35:12Z Physicians from top health systems discuss how they are ensuring quality standards are met and upheld during video visits.

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This November at the Becker’s Hospital Review 6th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago, physicians from top health systems came together to discuss how they are ensuring quality standards are met and upheld during video visits. The discussion, which was moderated by Sylvia Romm, MD, medical director at Amwell, included the following panelists:

  • Bruce Rosenthal, MD, Medical Director, Consumer Telehealth Services, UPMC
  • Shayan Vyas, MD, Medical Director, Nemours
  • Peter Rasmussen, MD, Medical Director, Distance Health, Cleveland Clinic
  • Will Daines, MD, Medical Director, Intermountain Connect Care

Below is a breakdown of the five biggest takeaways for this clinical meeting of the minds:

1. Leadership buy-in is critical to your telehealth program’s success

“I can’t emphasize how important CEO leadership around telemedicine is,” says Dr. Peter Rasmussen, medical director of distance health at the Cleveland Clinic, who noted that Cleveland Clinic’s CEO Toby Cosgrove got involved in telehealth at the health system and moved things forward. Today, Cleveland Clinic offers more than 55 different telehealth clinical services, including psychiatry, oncology, and home health.

But it’s not just CEO buy-in that’s important; all leadership should be engaged in the program. “You can’t view telehealth as a separate vertical,” says Dr. Rasmussen. “We can’t operate without the support of legal, finance, IT, marketing and the communications team.”

2. Build a telehealth program on what already exists

“We know it’s a process for physicians to move from skepticism to acceptance,” says Dr. Will Daines, medical director of Intermountain Care Connect at Intermountain Healthcare. “But we know we can move that forward if we mimic similar care.”

Rooting telehealth into your already existing medical best practices is the easiest way to build a successful program. “Telehealth is going to face scrutiny because of its novelty,” says Daines. “Start with the clinical basics and expand further into telehealth as its appropriate.”

Each of Intermountain’s clinical programs–oncology, behavioral health, primary care—have identified and written best practices around particular clinical issues. Dr. Daines and his team used these existing best practices and adapted them for telehealth, mirroring in-person care as much as possible.

Admittedly, says Dr. Daines, some care process models adapt better than others for telehealth. “An easy adaption was sinusitis, whereas our care process model for ear pain was not as readily adaptable. We can’t visualize the membrane, and therefore did not feel comfortable diagnosing that over video.”

For conditions that do not lend themselves well to treatment via video, Intermountain instead uses telehealth for triage—is the patient sick enough that they should go to the ER tonight, or can they wait and go to primary care in the morning?

Nemours, a children’s health system spread throughout six states, deploys a similar strategy for pediatric conditions they consider untreatable via telehealth. “We won’t diagnose strep or ear pain because we can’t test those conditions via telehealth,” says Dr. Shayan Vyas, medical director at Nemours. “But what we can do is prevent unnecessary ER visits.

3. Invest in support services

The telehealth end-user and provider experience are designed to be easy and intuitive. Yet, to accomplish this ease-of-use interface a lot must happen on the back end. Having support services that are dedicated to telehealth will make the overall program run more efficiently.

“For an organization that’s serious about telehealth, you don’t just need strategic leadership, you need support services,” says Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, medical director of consumer telehealth services at UPMC.

These services should include both provider and patient support. “If something goes wrong, we can’t expect a provider to fix it,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “And if a patient can’t figure out how to download an app, they need a support service to call.” Investing in this aspect of telehealth is important to the usability of the technology, and ultimately its overall success.

4. Set up checkpoints to demonstrate the value of telehealth to different stakeholders  

As a health system initiating a telehealth service, you may experience hesitation from different departments and stakeholders at first. For example, physicians may worry that telehealth will provide inferior care or steal their patients. A chief financial officer may be concerned that a physician seeing a patient via video translates into a loss in revenue for the emergency department. So it is important to set up  checkpoints that tackle these concerns and measure success in a way that is  important to each stakeholder.

“For providers, we demonstrate what constitutes a high standard of care and how we are meeting that,” says Dr. Daines. “For example, we show them telehealth antibiotic prescribing rates for appropriate and inappropriate conditions, and measure how many patients ended up in the ER or urgent care office after having a telehealth visit.” These checkpoints can be put in place for all use cases, and measure specific data that would be relevant to that stakeholder, whether they be clinical, technical or financial.

5. Be ready to think entirely differently about care delivery

There is a lot of discussion around practicing telehealth and meeting the same high standards of care. “I think we need to get away from this inferiority complex,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “If we are breaking away from brick and mortar, we have to do things differently.”

Telehealth is about reaching people with barriers to access, and according to Dr. Rosenthal, that requires a new way of thinking. “Maybe we can use the Centor criteria [for strep throat] with a patient who, based on characteristics, has a 60-70% chance of strep. Maybe in that case it makes sense to prescribe. Or why don’t we have drug stores do strep tests? We need to think of new strategies to help us put telehealth in place.”

Dr. Rasmussen agrees. “We need to be thinking entirely differently in telehealth.” For multiple sclerosis patients who travel long distances for care, Cleveland Clinic holds pre-visits via telehealth to go through paperwork and imaging to help determine if an in-person visit would be meaningful and help treat that patient. “If the answer is yes, then they already have the imaging pre-scheduled and set up for that visit.”

This group of physicians is responsible for revolutionizing care within their respective health systems, but also within the healthcare industry. The more health systems adopt telehealth, the more we need physician champions who are not only committed to building a high-quality telehealth service, but who are willing to challenge the industry norm and pave the way for more innovative care delivery. “Technology is growing,” says Dr. Vyas. “If you’re not developing a strategy for telehealth now, then you’re going to be left behind.”

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[The Importance of Webside Manner]]> https://www.americanwell.com/the-importance-of-webside-manner/ 2020-03-17T19:26:07Z 2017-12-11T14:00:00Z Sometimes we ignore new words because they seem silly or unimportant mixes or modifications of existing words. But webside manner is not one of those cases. In its way, it is just as important as bedside manner in securing open, honest communication between patient and healthcare professional, and thus in securing a positive patient health […]

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Sometimes we ignore new words because they seem silly or unimportant mixes or modifications of existing words. But webside manner is not one of those cases. In its way, it is just as important as bedside manner in securing open, honest communication between patient and healthcare professional, and thus in securing a positive patient health outcome, both in terms of the objective health of the patient and their perceptions of the care they receive.

Whatever the medium used, provider-patient communication is a critical factor. This is even truer today in telehealth settings where people are still getting accustomed to a new way of speaking to and interacting with their healthcare professionals. Patient satisfaction surveys since 1990 all indicate that the effectiveness of communication is a critical component to how a patient views their care, no matter the result in purely physical terms. These surveys are frequently cited in efforts to improve care, whether at a small clinic or the largest hospital. Incorporating their findings regarding telehealth communications is a necessity as offerings and opportunities to use it expand. Thus, webside manner matters.

The basics of how to have a positive webside manner are similar to the best practices for bedside manner. The critical difference is in making sure to understand non-verbal communication as expressed via video links. This takes practice, as with any skill, but it can be mastered with effort. A major point in this type of interaction is that with telehealth, there may not be anything analogous to the “doorknob moment” where a patient makes a comment or asks a question just as the provider is leaving the room. Closing a telehealth connection, without preparation by the healthcare professional, has the same finality of hanging up a phone or turning off a television. But it does not have to be that way.

There are known, tested, and successful strategies for getting this sort of last minute question or comment from a patient before ending a telehealth consultation. With so many years of telehealth in the field, a consensus has even been reached on how best to do it. If done well, these techniques can even improve the rate of “doorknob moments” among patients who would otherwise let their health practitioners just walk out the door or close the connection, saying nothing at all. With the quasi-return to the house call that telehealth makes possible, people have been shown to be more communicative and generally willing to talk to their healthcare providers as fellow human beings invited into their homes rather than as strangers in an unaccustomed setting.

The long and the short of it is that what patients think about their healthcare matters. Being able to talk to patients in an open, honest manner is an absolute necessity, no matter if the consultation is face-to-face or online. Paying attention to webside manner with as much diligence as bedside manner is the key to it. Telehealth provides the tools. You have to make it work.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Christine Minott <![CDATA[Telehealth on Amwell: The Patient‘s Perspective]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7478 2017-12-06T21:27:25Z 2017-12-06T19:17:45Z As you get up and running with your telehealth practice, you may be wondering: what exactly do my patients see? Download Amwell, set up your own patient account and explore. But until then, here are some answers to common questions we get from doctors about the patient experience: 1. Who are the patients on Amwell? […]

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As you get up and running with your telehealth practice, you may be wondering: what exactly do my patients see? Download Amwell, set up your own patient account and explore. But until then, here are some answers to common questions we get from doctors about the patient experience:

1. Who are the patients on Amwell?

Amwell is open to the public, so patients all over download the app and see available providers. You may also see patients of our corporate customers, employers and health plans, who offer Amwell as a service to their employees and members.

2. How will patients find me?

Patients see the list of doctors available for consults based on the patient’s current location and licensure of the providers. Patients can filter providers by specialty, and also search by practice name. They see your practice name, welcome message, and availability on your profile page.

3. Do patients see my price and consult length?

Patients will see the visit price you have set for cash-pay as the “visit cost” and they can schedule in 30-minute increments during the times you have available appointments. Patients agree to the cancellation policy in advance of scheduling the visit. The default no-show fee is $20 but can be changed.

4. How do patients schedule a visit with me?

Patients must include a valid credit card to schedule an appointment with you. Once they book the appointment, you’ll receive an email confirmation. Then, you can log on to your provider account and learn more about them.

5. Do patients get appointment reminders?

Yes, patients get reminders 15 minutes prior to the appointment and a link to begin their visit and an email suggesting a “readiness check” to ensure that they’re prepared for their visit.

Learn more about practicing on Amwell or schedule a call with us.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Understanding the FCC’s Rural Telehealth Expansion Proposal]]> https://www.americanwell.com/understanding-the-fccs-rural-telehealth-expansion-proposal/ 2020-03-23T21:18:48Z 2017-12-05T13:30:00Z The US Census Bureau says the American frontier closed in 1890. But the reality is that many people still live in rural areas today. This is as much due to the real population factors of the traditional heartland as it is because of the evolving way we define what rural is. Though the FCC is […]

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The US Census Bureau says the American frontier closed in 1890. But the reality is that many people still live in rural areas today. This is as much due to the real population factors of the traditional heartland as it is because of the evolving way we define what rural is. Though the FCC is dealing with a bit of a storm in other areas, one little-noted change they are suggesting is an expansion of funding for the Rural Healthcare Program (RHP) beyond the current $400 million cap. Part of that expansion would help fund telehealth options and they are taking comments from the public on this important matter.

Expanded Telemedicine Access to PA and NP Clinics

In fact, the FCC has been explicit in including expanded broadband access to facilitate telehealth capabilities among RHP participants. These now include healthcare facilities run by nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, by far the most common sort encountered in rural areas. And, in 40 states, these healthcare professionals can write prescriptions with the same authority as a doctor. And yet they are not equipped for everything that they may encounter, whether from lack of training or equipment or sheer numbers. Regardless of the initials after a person’s name, America at large is experiencing a healthcare professional shortage across the board.

With the proposed funding expansion, and the stated intent of the FCC to include broadband access in that amount, telehealth options are on the table for the more than 5,500 hospitals and nursing homes served by the RHP. We do not yet have an accurate count on the number of physician assistant and nurse practitioner clinics covered by the RHP because their addition is so new, but the USDA estimates they are the primary healthcare professionals for 17% of the American population. The FCC move is intended to help provide medical care to the almost one-in-five Americans in that group and they intend to do it with telehealth, and the plan includes provisions for the PAs and NPs that serve rural populations in addition to bigger hospitals and nursing homes. The expansion program, by paying for the infrastructure of and access to broadband, makes these new technologies a viable option. But, as you may have expected, there is more.

Funding for Telehealth Equipment

The FCC proposal explicitly includes telehealth machinery, both for clinical use and for monitoring patients when at home. Starting the adoption process now, gathering the needed information for what a given care center and its patients need, is the best way to get ahead of the game once the expansion happens.

Then, depending on the precise plan that is adopted, telehealth equipment will either be paid for directly by the FCC or the care center will be reimbursed. At minimum, looking at the options is due diligence for taking care of patients.

In short, taking a look now at the avenues that are opening up for telehealth adoption and expansion means you will at least know the current state of the art. Better still, it will prepare your practice to move forward with telehealth implementation once the final plan is authorized and put into action.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[3 Steps to Setting up a Successful Practice]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7431 2018-07-19T19:04:54Z 2017-11-29T18:28:54Z You want to practice telemedicine and your Amwell practice is now live. What next? Here are three easy ways to make your new Amwell practice stand out:

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Here are three easy ways to make your new Amwell practice stand out:

1. Make a good great first impression

A great picture is worth a thousand words (unfortunately so is a bad picture…). So, make sure you put your best face forward. If you don’t already have a professional headshot, here’s how you can take your own.

  • ‘Camera’: The nicer the camera (lens, etc.), the better the headshot. But you can even take a pretty decent picture with your phone, so long as you have proper lighting;
  • Lighting: Lighting in front of you is best, or at least proper overhead lighting that doesn’t cast shadows over your face;
  • Backdrop: Your backdrop depends on your camera. A camera with a 35-mm lens blurs out backgrounds creating the ‘bokeh’ effect. But you can’t really go wrong with a simple, lightly colored background. But don’t stand right up against it – give yourself a few inches to cast a soft shadow.
  • No selfies: Have someone take your photo for you. It will allow you to relax and pose naturally. No one around? Place your phone/camera on a tripod or other sturdy surface just about head height.
  • Posture: There are endless rules for posture depending on your look. But, the basics are: stand up, turn slightly, smile with your eyes.
  • Attire: Many healthcare professionals opt for a white coat and stethoscope over professional garb.
  • File formatting: Amwell profile pics are 408 x 500. Make sure that your image is that size too, otherwise your picture may get distorted.

Who would you rather see?

Write a thoughtful, welcoming description of your practice, specialty, focus, and interest in delivering healthcare conveniently to patients:

  • Short and sweet: this introduction is meant to be brief. Make it friendly and keep it under 50 words.
  • Add your specialty: include your specialty and areas of interest.
  • Include training: you may want to mention where and when you went to medical school, completed your residency, etc.

Hi, I’m Dr. Smith and I specialize in functional medicine for women. After studying at ABC School of Holistic Health and graduating in 2011, I opened my practice in Massachusetts. I’m excited to bring functional medicine care to more people through telehealth and I look forward to meeting you.  

OR

Dr. Smith, Functional Medicine. ABC School of Holistic Health, 2011. 

PRO MOVE: Want to really set your practice apart? Create a custom practice image:

  • Image size: 965 X 490.
  • Photos: use your own or make a new one. You can get some great free stock photography from sites like Unsplash. Or if you want help with design, sites like Fiverr connect you with affordable graphic designers.

2. Set a schedule and stick to it

Some providers may offer urgent, on-demand care, but most will be indicating their availability and allowing patients to schedule visits during those times. The most important part of getting started is indicating when you’re available. 

Otherwise, patients will click on your practice and see a “no appointments” screen.  Not a great experience for them and means fewer (er, no) visits for you. Remember: patients have schedules too, and one of the great benefits of telemedicine is the ability for patients to see doctors when it works for them. So try offering a varied schedule with as many openings during the weekdays as possible, and even some nights and weekends for good measure.

 

3. (Make Sure) The Price is Right

Currently most telemedicine visits are not covered by insurance, so most patients will pay out of pocket for your service.  Therefore, you set the price that makes sense for your specialty and visit duration. We see prices ranging from $39 to $199 but if you want to talk it over and get a feel for market price, don’t hesitate to reach out. Keep in mind that you can always change your price down the road.

That’s it! Simple, right?

Questions? You can always schedule a call with us or send us an email at providers@americanwell.com.

 

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Reducing Hospital Readmissions with Telemedicine]]> https://www.americanwell.com/reducing-hospital-readmissions-with-telemedicine/ 2020-03-23T21:19:13Z 2017-11-28T14:00:00Z For good reason, everyone dreads the experience of a hospital readmission for the same problem shortly after being discharged. Here, healthcare professionals, hospital administrators, insurance agents, and patients are all on the same page. So, any strategy that both reduces readmissions while improving patient health outcomes is something that all of these groups should investigate. […]

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For good reason, everyone dreads the experience of a hospital readmission for the same problem shortly after being discharged. Here, healthcare professionals, hospital administrators, insurance agents, and patients are all on the same page. So, any strategy that both reduces readmissions while improving patient health outcomes is something that all of these groups should investigate. Telehealth is one area which can lower the number of unplanned readmissions. Hospitals that do not work toward this goal will only end up hurting their patients and their bottom line.

As might be expected, people with more severe conditions upon initial admission or a mental health disorder have a higher than average likelihood of an unplanned readmission within 30 days. What may not be expected is that the highest rates of readmission are among Medicare and Medicaid recipients. Those who qualify for these programs tend to be older and poorer than the average American, both of which have high positive correlations with poor health. The single biggest factor in reducing those readmissions according to an extensive Harvard Business Review study was effective communication between healthcare professionals and their patients. Both senior citizens and the poor often feel ignored, so someone really listening to them for a change is bound to have an effect.

But, to have its greatest potential effect, communication must continue after discharge. This is where telehealth comes in. Among senior citizens, more and more are comfortable with daily use of the internet and related technologies. Those who qualify for Medicaid and similar programs also often have access to Lifeline, meaning they have smart devices that can be used for their telehealth connection. Combined with expansion of the Smart City model, this means almost all urban Americans, and 77% generally, have some measure of access to the possibilities of telehealth communication with their healthcare providers.

The benefits of follow-up care are unambiguously positive, and this requires effective communication. Just talking to patients instructs, assists, and enables the necessary self-care that is so critical in the post-discharge phase and can reduce unplanned readmissions in the first 30 days by as much as 82%. This is no trifling figure, especially when the current rate of Medicare and Medicaid patient readmission is about 1-in-5, costing $26 billion annually. Telehealth extends that beyond the last minutes of a hospital stay out into the real world and assists the patient by making recovery part of their everyday lives.

The point, of course, is that communication between healthcare professionals and their patients is a necessity. Telehealth normalizes this process and makes it a welcome engagement rather than something to be avoided and keeps people out of the hospital as they are on the road to recovery.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Reduce Chronic Care Costs with At-Home Telemedicine]]> https://www.americanwell.com/reduce-chronic-care-costs-with-at-home-telemedicine/ 2020-03-23T21:19:38Z 2017-11-21T14:00:00Z There exist a wide array of reasons why non-senior adults might require long-term medical care, and a majority of them are in some sense chronic conditions. Birth defects. Autoimmune disorders. Mental illness. Traumatic injuries. Even a list of general categories could be quite extensive. But they tend to have two things in common in addition […]

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There exist a wide array of reasons why non-senior adults might require long-term medical care, and a majority of them are in some sense chronic conditions. Birth defects. Autoimmune disorders. Mental illness. Traumatic injuries. Even a list of general categories could be quite extensive. But they tend to have two things in common in addition to their chronic nature: Residence in a long-term care facility may not be practical for treatment and do not diminish the desire to live an active, healthy life. Staying home, whether on their own or with family members, is often the best solution for people with chronic conditions, both in terms of cost and of patient health outcomes.

Growth of Chronic Conditions

Almost half of American adults have some sort of chronic condition, and those can begin to stack up as people age. Currently, chronic illnesses account for roughly 75% of all physician visits, 80% of all hospital admissions, and 90% of all prescriptions. Those with chronic conditions make up the majority of the 71% of visits to emergency departments (EDs) that are either unnecessary or preventable. Indeed, in just one area of chronic care, telehealth has reduced unnecessary admissions by 20% and that number is growing. That is, with proper care at home, most of these people could stay there longer and have better quality of life when they do so, all while avoiding preventable visits to EDs. For many, telehealth can make remaining at home a viable option at a reasonable cost.

Telehealth Creates Ease

A significant component of telehealth making home care possible for patients with chronic conditions is that it eases communication between patients and caregivers. A metareview of over 1,200 studies on this topic showed that telehealth almost invariably facilitated accurate communication between all concerned parties, and thus contributed to better patient health outcomes. One related effect was that, with accurate and timely communication, patients were more likely to adhere to their treatment regimens, resulting in fewer visits both to their primary care physicians and EDs. This means that patients engaged in therapies more often and took their medications properly. While this increased pharmaceutical expenses, it lowered costs of care elsewhere that more than cancelled out the cost of drugs, again while improving the patient’s overall health. These other lowered costs mostly came from avoiding those unnecessary or preventable ED visits and hospitalizations. This, again, contributed to the patient’s ability to stay at home for a longer period of time, living their life as they wanted, with optimal health outcomes in both physical and mental health.

It all ties together and works in a positive feedback loop, each stage building on the one before it. Staying at home with telehealth costs less and improves patient health outcomes. These tools have already been proven effective for senior citizens. It is high time we do so for other adults with chronic conditions.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Creating a Seamless System-wide Telehealth Experience]]> https://www.americanwell.com/creating-a-seamless-system-wide-telehealth-experience/ 2020-03-23T21:20:17Z 2017-11-16T15:00:00Z While hospital-focused telehealth is still largely used for high-acuity cases like stroke, we see the greater, untapped potential of this technology. When leveraged system-wide, telehealth is a disruptive technology that can impact care delivery in a major way — reducing avoidable hospital admissions and readmissions and improving outcomes for patients, while saving the healthcare system […]

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While hospital-focused telehealth is still largely used for high-acuity cases like stroke, we see the greater, untapped potential of this technology. When leveraged system-wide, telehealth is a disruptive technology that can impact care delivery in a major way — reducing avoidable hospital admissions and readmissions and improving outcomes for patients, while saving the healthcare system a lot of money.

More than 63 percent of healthcare providers now use telehealth, but the experience is only as good as the technology and healthcare professionals who interface with a particular platform. For these reasons, we have made it our mission to: 

  • create a telehealth platform that works with every major EHR; and
  • offer the entire healthcare chain (patients, providers, payers, etc.) a seamless, end-to-end experience.

We don’t simply want to host one-time virtual visits: Our goal is to make sure patients can access telehealth when they need great care, regardless of where they are located.

As we continue to grow, we’ve sought ideas for expanding our broader portfolio of customizable solutions. In October 2017, we announced our acquisition of Carena. The opportunity made a lot of sense: The company’s provider network is a natural extension of our own platform and their expertise in meeting consumer needs through 24/7 on-demand services can help us do a better job of meeting our healthcare partners’ telehealth needs. Together with Carena, we will expand our reach into a greater number of markets, and help hospitals and health systems strengthen and scale their existing telehealth programs. Since 2000, Carena has designed and operated virtual clinics for health systems, and today offers virtual care access to millions of consumers. Our combined company now supports a quarter of the nation’s hospitals.

As KLAS noted in one of its most recent industry reports, “Telehealth Virtual Care Platforms 2017,” Avizia has one of the most adopted telehealth platforms across use cases (on-demand, specialty, and scheduled) and is the best in EHR integration.

Prospective and existing customers will benefit from our broader range of telehealth solutions in the newly christened Avizia-Carena partnership. These solutions include a host of provider staffing models, which an organization or health system can choose to brand. Avizia Provider Services offers access to industry-leading, highly credentialed, board certified providers for virtual and onsite care coverage for a multitude of specialties across all 50 states.

Telehealth is expected to grow into a $38 billion market by 2022. Today, Avizia is trusted by four out of the top five IDNs in the nation and one in four U.S. hospitals. Moving forward with Carena, Avizia is excited to be driving better patient outcomes through our system-wide and comprehensive approach to telehealth.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[5 Ways to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season with a Telemedicine Clinic]]> https://www.americanwell.com/5-ways-to-prepare-for-cold-and-flu-season-with-a-telemedicine-clinic/ 2020-03-23T21:20:29Z 2017-11-13T14:00:00Z With cold and flu season approaching fast, it is very important to prepare your staff and patients for the upcoming months and plan to manage increased demand across all ambulatory services. Wait times in ED and urgent care facilities will begin to rise and options for patients are often limited with full clinic schedules and […]

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With cold and flu season approaching fast, it is very important to prepare your staff and patients for the upcoming months and plan to manage increased demand across all ambulatory services. Wait times in ED and urgent care facilities will begin to rise and options for patients are often limited with full clinic schedules and reduced holiday hours. A direct-to-consumer (DTC) virtual clinic can provide a convenient and affordable access point for patients needing care this season as part of your broader seasonal strategy.

1.   Scheduling and Triage

Late fall brings the initial influx of acutely ill patients. Many of these patients have simple self-limited illnesses and may not need in-person care. The challenge is that within that influx are patients who may have more serious illnesses, complications, or underlying medical issues that put them at higher risk necessitating higher levels of care. Increased access and processes are needed to assure these patients get seen and not turned away because no appointments are available. Clinic schedules need to accommodate these patients but at the same time, must still fit in visits for chronic disease and preventive visits as well. A proactive plan to build schedules to balance those competing demands in the winter months is a must. At the same time, you don’t want to use valuable clinic visit slots as the point at which you first assess which patients have simple self-limited illnesses from those that truly need to be seen. Thus, having efficient triage in front of the schedule management is critical. Appropriate low acuity patients can be triaged to the virtual clinic instead of limited clinic appointments or the virtual clinic can be utilized as a triage access point in front of clinic scheduling.

2.   Patient Education and Communication

Patient education and overall communication is also important. This may include sending reminders on how to practice proper hand washing or self-care advice for simple conditions like the common cold. Campaigns to educate patients about inappropriate antibiotic use for viral illnesses can help avoid unnecessary visits and promote good antibiotic stewardship in the community. This is also a time to share your health system’s plan for the season including where to get flu shots without making a clinic appointment and increasing awareness of the different ways to access care. Educating patients on conditions and circumstances well suited for virtual visits and how to access virtual care can help drive appropriate, high-value utilization of the virtual clinic.

3.   Staff Preparedness

This is a great time to start reviewing staff workflows and fill any gaps in your system. Review last year’s cold and flu season and plan tactics to avoid having the same issues you had in prior years. Monitor local, regional, and national public health reporting on influenza and other seasonal illnesses to better anticipate your upcoming demand for clinical services and stay up to date with public health triage and management recommendations.

4.   Don’t Forget Quality!

During busy times, it is easy to feel the pressure of a full waiting room and limited staffing, which unfortunately often equates to shortcuts that can impact quality of care. By offering a telemedicine solution with Virtual Practice Guidelines (VPGs) – diagnosis and symptom-based virtual care treatment guidelines for urgent and primary care – integrated into your virtual clinic, you’ll be able to make sure your practices and processes are in order to ensure your team is delivering care efficiently and safely.

5.   Integrate a Virtual Care Program

If your health system doesn’t have a virtual clinic, this is the right time to invest in telemedicine. With virtual visits doubling in winter months, it is very important to be where your patients are. By launching a virtual care program during peak season, you’re able to meet your patients’ real-time needs including eliminating seasonal transportation challenges and reaching rural communities. Integrating a telemedicine solution into your system at this time will give your program instant traction in the market.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[CMS Increases Telemedicine Reimbursement]]> https://www.americanwell.com/cms-increases-telemedicine-reimbursement/ 2020-03-23T21:20:41Z 2017-11-07T15:00:00Z There is good news for those who have had uncertainties over billing for telehealth procedures. At the start of November 2017, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) passed their final rules for the 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP) and Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). Part of the update addresses the realities of natural disasters […]

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There is good news for those who have had uncertainties over billing for telehealth procedures. At the start of November 2017, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) passed their final rules for the 2018 Quality Payment Program (QPP) and Physician Fee Schedule (PFS). Part of the update addresses the realities of natural disasters and other unavoidable circumstances. But, perhaps the most important things from a healthcare provider perspective are the addition of new telehealth CPT billing codes and a reduction in the reporting burden. So, that means more money for care providers and less administrative work to get it while providing more care options to their patients.

In addition to the increase of 0.41% in reimbursement values, the updates remove much of the ambiguity in telehealth billing. Before, CMS had different telehealth rates and codes for both Medicare and Medicaid, as did most private insurers. With a standardization of these rates and codes, many of the logistical roadblocks to adding telehealth to a healthcare practice are gone.

Creating an Industry Standard

Though the published rules only technically apply to Medicare and Medicaid, it is standard among private insurers to adopt the same sets of codes so as to have an informal but widely used industry standard. Arriving at this kind of consensus by asking for input from all stakeholders has helped to ensure that the transition will be as smooth as possible. There may still be instances where a provider offers a platinum level plan with telehealth coverage and a bronze level plan without, but, where telehealth is included, the codes will at least all be the same.

Previously, many healthcare providers would use the same CPT codes to bill in-person and telehealth procedures that were otherwise identical. While a solid rule of thumb, this is not always the best idea. The expansion and standardization offered by the new final rules remove the uncertainty on whether or not this is the correct action by clearly defining telehealth procedures as having their own specific range of CPT codes independent of the ones used for in-person visits. The change has the added benefit of moving prices across the healthcare field toward a median figure, which benefits patients and insurers alike by knowing what their costs will be and healthcare providers by helping them know how much they will be paid. In one way or another, this is good for everyone involved.

A Look Ahead for Telemedicine Reimbursement

In short, yes, this is a rules change, and there are going to be some kinks to work out in the transition. Once the new rules are fully implemented in 2018, however, the standardization and clarification offered by these rules will more than make up for any difficulties encountered in the process.

New Update: Elimination of GT Modifier for Telehealth Services

As of January 1, 2018, Medicare is removing the requirement to use the GT modifier on professional claims for telehealth services.

Additional information can be found here: https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNMattersArticles/downloads/MM10152.pdf

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Using Telehealth Apps to Increase Healthcare Access]]> https://www.americanwell.com/using-telehealth-apps-to-increase-healthcare-access/ 2020-03-23T21:20:57Z 2017-10-31T14:00:00Z These days, apps are everywhere, from smart phones to renamed programs on PCs. Basically, they are anything not part of the operating system. Given that 61% of Americans look for health information online, and maybe more, it should be no surprise that there are telehealth apps available. Growth of Telehealth Apps There are presently dozens […]

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These days, apps are everywhere, from smart phones to renamed programs on PCs. Basically, they are anything not part of the operating system. Given that 61% of Americans look for health information online, and maybe more, it should be no surprise that there are telehealth apps available.

Growth of Telehealth Apps

There are presently dozens of telehealth apps available for download to smart devices using all major OS platforms. Many of them proved their worth during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. More generally, they have proven useful in monitoring health of senior citizens living alone, cardiac patients trying to lead normal lives, and veterans who may be many hours away from their nearest VA clinic. The only limits found thus far are in the imagination of people developing telehealth apps for release to the public. That is, they can be highly specific or generalized for almost any purpose.

It may rightly be pointed out that a significant number of people, even here in the US, still lack access to broadband internet, and that this might limit accessibility to telehealth apps. However, this ignores the fact that 77% of Americans have at least a basic smart device today. This means that the app market is wide open due to Wi-Fi access and mobile networks largely picking up the slack for the lack of broadband internet. This is especially the case as more localities around the world adopt the Smart City model of access.

Meeting Health System Goals

Healthcare professionals have already seen telehealth in operation and many are adopting the medium because it lowers costs for patients and providers alike, improves quality of care, and means more patients have access to healthcare. Best of all from adopters’ perspectives, is that telehealth apps often improve patient health outcomes in both physical and mental health spheres, reducing admissions by as much as 25%. Those who have adopted telehealth, some going entirely virtual, have noted that their practices flow more smoothly and that it reduces the workload in other areas. There is the added benefit for all concerned that unnecessary visits are avoided. This means doctors and other healthcare professionals can focus on those who genuinely need assistance while reassuring those who do not.

The apps are already out there in wide use. The only question is finding one that fits the needs of the healthcare professional and their patients.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth: Disaster Planning and Recovery]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-disaster-planning-and-recovery/ 2020-03-23T21:21:07Z 2017-10-19T22:20:03Z The United States is currently either experiencing or recovering from multiple and widespread natural disasters… with wildfires raging in the Mountain and Pacific West as well as dealing with the aftermath of multiple hurricanes from Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico. The National Interagency Fire Center predicts that the fall and early winter wildfire risk […]

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The United States is currently either experiencing or recovering from multiple and widespread natural disasters… with wildfires raging in the Mountain and Pacific West as well as dealing with the aftermath of multiple hurricanes from Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico. The National Interagency Fire Center predicts that the fall and early winter wildfire risk will spread eastward to a band from Texas to South Carolina, while still affecting California, and the National Hurricane Center has increased its risk assessment level for a hyperactive Atlantic season with each new release.

The bad weather is far from over.

This is where telehealth is lending a hand. With the addition of a single dongle, a telehealth cart can be made compatible to run with satellite phones. This simple modification can connect disaster-stricken areas with medical experts from around the country. Many telehealth models readily available for both store and online purchase would add as little as $10 to the cost. To put it another way, the amount of money spent on a discount lunch special could instead be used to save hundreds of lives.

In Puerto Rico, where the need for medical assistance continues in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria,  former Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price has suspended many of the restrictions on Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs for the duration of the emergency. This means that healthcare professionals and organizations have more flexibility to take action. The relaxation of rules also means that consultation with experts licensed to practice in places other than Puerto Rico is now allowed, and telehealth tools can facilitate many of these interactions where people are in need of care.

Deployed in conjunction with the USNS Comfort, the battery life of telehealth carts can be greatly augmented via easy recharging. Further, discussions are already underway between Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and innovators to engage faster restoration of the island’s power grid via solar panel deployment. Doing so would greatly increase the effective range of telehealth carts outside the major cities by making battery replacements easier, or, better still, via direct connection to a fully functional power grid.

If made a regular part of disaster response from FEMA, HHS, and other federal agencies, and done quickly, much of the human suffering in Puerto Rico could be alleviated.

As to the western wildfires, the challenges there are different and so present different opportunities. The flames do not care if a building is a house or a hospital. They burn just the same. And people in the endangered areas have to be evacuated as quickly and as safely as possible. Nursing homes in particular will need ready access to continuity of care, including monitoring of patients and medical records storage requirements, to make sure the necessary medicines and therapies experience the smallest possible interruption. Whereas swift deployment in the aftermath of a hurricane is the proper plan, preparedness with telehealth capacities before a wildfire occurs is the best route. Through the coordination capacities of telehealth services, nursing home residents and hospital patients can be routed to the facilities best able to receive them and thus ensure the best possible results.

The important thing here is that there are current, real, life or death medical needs in our country from the far Northwest to the island Southeast. Telehealth powered by trusted provider organizations, whether as part of a preparedness plan or deployed in aftermath response, can and should be used to help save lives.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[What the CONNECT for Health Act could mean for patients and the federal budget]]> https://www.americanwell.com/what-the-connect-for-health-act-could-mean-for-patients-and-the-federal-budget/ 2020-03-23T21:21:14Z 2017-10-08T23:57:56Z Avizia’s CEO and founder, Mike Baird, discusses what the CONNECT for Health Act could mean for patients—and the federal budget—in an article published by HIT Leaders & News. Baird explains that for value-based care to succeed in both reducing costs and improving patients care, telehealth needs to be a key part of the equation. The […]

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Avizia’s CEO and founder, Mike Baird, discusses what the CONNECT for Health Act could mean for patients—and the federal budget—in an article published by HIT Leaders & News. Baird explains that for value-based care to succeed in both reducing costs and improving patients care, telehealth needs to be a key part of the equation.

The current Medicare rules on telehealth are counter intuitive and an outdated way to care for patients. Current policy restricts utilization of and reimbursement for telehealth by narrowly defining conditions around eligibility for Medicare coverage. As a result, care delivered via telehealth is limited to people who live in a rural area and willing to go to a specific care location.

Today, Medicare does not cover:

  • “Store‐and‐forward” services (such as transmission of medical images) for the 43 million beneficiaries who live outside of Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Services originating from a beneficiary’s home (even for the “homebound”), a hospice and other common non‐medical locations from which a beneficiary seeks service.
  • Otherwise covered Medicare services of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech‐language pathology, audiology and some other practitioners.
  • Most health procedure codes, precluding the best judgment of physicians and other practitioners about the medical needs and other circumstances of beneficiaries.

Policy needs to change to empower physicians to use telehealth to improve access and quality, and lower costs. Luckily, the CONNECT for Health Act will push Medicare in the right direction.

Both consumer and physician mindsets toward telehealth are changing. Greater integration of technology in both parties’ lives are increasing both acceptance and use. These changing perceptions, coupled with CMS’ commitment to shift heavily toward value-based care, requires a new baseline. One that considers the advancements of the last decade, new data and evidence, and the evolving health care ecosystem.

The new baseline needs to eliminate the originating site geographic requirements, lift restrictions on store-and-forward technologies and expand the list of providers eligible to treat patients via telehealth. Passing the CONNECT Act for Health will be a big step in the right direction.

Read this complete article on HIT Leaders & News here.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[A Hybrid Approach to Direct-to-Consumer Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/a-hybrid-approach-to-direct-to-consumer-telehealth/ 2020-03-23T21:21:25Z 2017-09-18T00:00:00Z In this article published by Becker’s Hospital Review, Avizia’s CEO Mike Baird details the risks that direct-to-consumer telehealth may pose to care coordination, including incomplete medical records and gaps in care. He details how a hybrid telehealth solution is a viable alternative, and should be hospital and health system-led augmented by integrated virtual direct-to-consumer services. […]

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In this article published by Becker’s Hospital Review, Avizia’s CEO Mike Baird details the risks that direct-to-consumer telehealth may pose to care coordination, including incomplete medical records and gaps in care. He details how a hybrid telehealth solution is a viable alternative, and should be hospital and health system-led augmented by integrated virtual direct-to-consumer services.

telehealth software development kit

There were a reported 1.25 million DTC telehealth visits in 2015, a trend that is fueled, to some extent, by the belief that virtual DTC care leads to major cost savings because it can replace visits to the doctor’s office and keep patients out of the emergency room. Yet, because most virtual DTC care is episodic, occurring outside of a patient’s trusted health network, multiple clinical and financial issues can arise when patients and providers tap into this modality. Healthcare organizations and patients should be aware of potential disconnects when utilizing DTC telehealth, and make sure the proper checks and balances are in place.

DTC Telehealth Challenges

When patients reach out to physicians who are employed by “dial-a-doc” type services, they’re engaging with professionals who often have limited access to patients’ personal health records. Records from virtual visits can either be siloed, never to be seen again, or because most EHRs aren’t interoperable with telehealth systems, virtual episodes of care aren’t always documented in a way that is searchable. So, if the telehealth consultation contains critical information, the patient’s regular physician may miss it. Similarly, a virtual DTC doctor is at risk of giving inaccurate information or an incorrect prescription because he or she doesn’t have the patient’s complete health record immediately available.

There are also potential quality issues that arise with DTC telehealth services. For instance, a health network overseeing a patient may not have access to background information on the physicians who are employed by a DTC telehealth provider. The physicians are outsourced through the DTC vendor, and may not offer care that meets the standards of patients, insurers, or other stakeholders in a given health network. Many of these services are trying desperately to keep patient visits to 5 minutes or less to reduce costs.

A Hybrid Solution

The need for quality cannot be emphasized enough. Having a solid physician-vetting system to broker telehealth interactions can help avoid potential communication mishaps and wasted virtual visits. Hospitals, for instance, need to investigate quality metrics such as physician call times, prescriptions, or satisfaction ratings to make sure their telehealth DTC partners meet their standards.

Finding ways to bridge fragmentation through technology is also essential to maximizing the benefits of virtual DTC care. Leveraging telehealth networks that can integrate with EHRs and other patient care systems can facilitate better care. At the very least, healthcare providers need the ability to securely fax or email information about a telehealth consultation to one another – and ideally, implement deep EHR integration where patient data is shared bidirectionally in real time for true care coordination.

When virtual DTC care is integrated correctly within a larger healthcare network, with careful consideration to quality, it can work well to deliver value. Moving toward the goal of value-based care, healthcare providers need to look at the bigger picture, and ask whether the systems we rely on to improve quality and efficiency are being leveraged properly.

Read the complete article on Becker’s Hospital Review.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[The Millennial Mind: Understanding Their Healthcare Needs and Wants]]> https://www.americanwell.com/the-millennial-mind-understanding-their-healthcare-needs-and-wants/ 2020-03-23T21:21:35Z 2017-08-31T12:00:00Z Years ago, going to the doctor was a fairly straightforward process. An ill individual would schedule an appointment, go to the clinic, and see their PCP. While this still occurs, patients now have a multitude of options when it comes to healthcare. When people get sick, some google their symptoms, others search online for a […]

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Years ago, going to the doctor was a fairly straightforward process. An ill individual would schedule an appointment, go to the clinic, and see their PCP. While this still occurs, patients now have a multitude of options when it comes to healthcare. When people get sick, some google their symptoms, others search online for a provider or home remedies, some request a virtual visit, and others go to any of a growing number of urgent care facilities, retail clinics, or standalone ERs.

With so many options available to patients, it is important for any health system to understand what the newest adult patients, millennials – who are no longer relying on mom and dad for healthcare guidance – are looking for.

Historically, health systems didn’t have to spend considerable energy considering how to maintain long-term relationships with their patients, because sticking with a provider long-term was standard behavior. However, for millennials (who range in age from early-20s to mid-30s), the end goal may not be to establish a relationship with a PCP or health system.

Millennials expect convenience.

Convenience of access to care is something millennials expect and, for better or worse, may feel entitled to receive. They do not want to spend their time commuting to a clinic or urgent care only to sit in the waiting room for hours, just for a ten-minute visit. Telehealth holds inherent appeal to anyone who prioritizes convenience and certainly speaks to many millennials as evidenced by this data:

Technology is a millennial’s friend.

With so many smartphone users in the U.S., particularly millennials, it is important to be mindful of incorporating a mobile-first approach into your marketing strategy.

Considering the prevalence of smartphone usage in this demographic, it is not surprising that this technology would also be used to seek healthcare. As a matter of fact, Accenture reported their projections for 2019 that state 66% of U.S. health systems will provide online scheduling and 64% of patients will make appointments online.

Millennials are brand loyal and influential.

Millennials may be more likely to stick with a health system long-term based on a good experience, even if this wasn’t their initial intent. With strong preferences for companies who give customers a quality experience, millennials are more brand loyal than any other generation (Greyhealth Group, The New World of Healthcare: What Millennials Want).

With 10.8 million millennial households with children, accounting for 80% of live births each year, millennials are shaping the healthcare habits and outlooks of their children, as well as other family members.

By acknowledging the concepts of convenience, comfort with technology, and brand loyalty, your health system and providers will be more prepared to relate and market to this generation, ultimately leading to more long-term patient relationships.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[The Right Time to Invest in Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/the-right-time-to-invest-in-telehealth/ 2020-03-23T21:21:44Z 2017-08-24T12:00:00Z The National Business Group on Health’s (NBGH) recent Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey results show promise for telemedicine with 96% of employers planning to offer telehealth benefits in 2018. There has never been a better time to invest in telehealth. September marks the beginning of cold and flu season, a […]

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The National Business Group on Health’s (NBGH) recent Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey results show promise for telemedicine with 96% of employers planning to offer telehealth benefits in 2018.

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There has never been a better time to invest in telehealth. September marks the beginning of cold and flu season, a peak season for direct-to-consumer telehealth. This time of year, we typically see an increase in consumers going online looking for affordable care options. Activity will group through the fall and winter before tapering off in April and May.

The NBGH survey results found that large U.S. employers estimate that in 2018, their per employee benefit costs will surpass $14,000 including premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Employees will take on roughly 30% or nearly $4,400 of this cost while employers will cover the balance. This will be the fifth consecutive year with a 5% increase in healthcare benefit costs.

With nearly all large employers planning to offer telehealth services by 2020, there is an enormous opportunity for the local health systems to provide telemedicine services that meet the needs of local employers. Telehealth offered through the local health system reduces fragmentation and reinforces strong relationships between patients and local systems. When integrated into the local employer’s health plan the patient, health system, and health plan all benefit. This can pave the way to more integrated models and value-based reimbursement relationships.

CHI Health in Nebraska and Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) Medical Group in Illinois are two partners who have successfully incorporated employer virtual care programs to create valuable relationships with local employers and offer a competitive package that meets the needs of consumers and positions the organizations competitively for an at-risk environment.

CHI Health has a three-part commitment to their local employers – transparency, accountability, and affordability. This includes providing easy access to cost data, lowering costs to or below the regional cost average, and working with insurers to bring new options to market.

HSHS Medical Group has contracted with four local employers allowing their employees and their dependents to gain access through a dedicated portal or app.

With large employer telehealth adoption projected to reach 96% next year, health systems need to become a lot more competitive to gain and retain market share. This data presents an opportunity to build valuable partnerships with employers to better support the care continuum and reduce care fragmentation.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[The CONNECT Act May Ease Telehealth Restrictions — Here’s How]]> https://www.americanwell.com/the-connect-act-may-ease-telehealth-restrictions-heres-how/ 2020-03-23T21:21:56Z 2017-07-31T00:00:00Z The CONNECT for Health Act would improve coverage of telehealth and remote patient monitoring as basic benefits in Medicare Advantage. Avizia CEO Mike Baird and the executive director for the Alliance for Connected Care, Krista Drobac, spoke with Becker’s Hospital Review to discuss how the CONNECT for Health Act may ease telehealth restrictions—and provide Medicare […]

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The CONNECT for Health Act would improve coverage of telehealth and remote patient monitoring as basic benefits in Medicare Advantage.

Avizia CEO Mike Baird and the executive director for the Alliance for Connected Care, Krista Drobac, spoke with Becker’s Hospital Review to discuss how the CONNECT for Health Act may ease telehealth restrictions—and provide Medicare beneficiaries access to better care.

Telehealth has the potential to help rural patients remotely access specialized healthcare — but convincing payers like Medicare to cover these services has proved challenging. Section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act established restrictions on reimbursement for telehealth and remote patient monitoring services under Medicare fee-for-service.

Many healthcare advocacy organizations say the statute is due for reform and have rallied around recent legislation like the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health Act of 2017. The CONNECT for Health Act has garnered bipartisan support, posting 13 cosponsors and more than 50 endorsements from advocacy groups like the American Medical Association, the American Telemedicine Association and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

“At the end of the day, if we’re treating patients, it shouldn’t matter how we treat them,” says Mike Baird, CEO and founder of telehealth company Avizia. “Unfortunately, some of these restrictions that are in place create disincentives toward the adoption of telehealth.”

With certain restrictions, the CONNECT for Health Act would cover telehealth and remote patient monitoring as basic benefits in Medicare Advantage. The bill also proposes a bridge program to help providers report telehealth and remote patient monitoring practices under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System.

But, the CONNECT for Health Act has been stuck in committee, so the Alliance for Connected Care is exploring braking the bill apart to push select reforms forward piece-by-piece.

“If the CONNECT for Health Act doesn’t move in entirety on its own, we want to be sure that pieces of it get enacted as other bills,” Ms. Drobac says.

Read more about the bill and its status at Becker’s Hospital Review.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[New Telestroke Guidelines: What you need to know]]> https://www.americanwell.com/new-telestroke-guidelines-what-you-need-to-know/ 2018-07-19T19:28:22Z 2017-07-18T00:00:00Z American Telemedicine Association 2017 Telestroke Guidelines As the fifth most common cause of death and the leading cause of long-term adult disability in the world, strokes pose a widespread public health dilemma. And while many studies have proven the viability of using telehealth services to rapidly address patient needs, providing cohesive care between facilities is […]

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American Telemedicine Association 2017 Telestroke Guidelines

As the fifth most common cause of death and the leading cause of long-term adult disability in the world, strokes pose a widespread public health dilemma. And while many studies have proven the viability of using telehealth services to rapidly address patient needs, providing cohesive care between facilities is a critical component that needs to be addressed.

A recent study by Kaiser Permanente said, “Particularly in hospitals with limited local resources and/or limited access to neurological expertise, telestroke is an important tool to aid in the evaluation and treatment of potential stroke. We specifically found that unwarranted hospital variability in stroke care could be eliminated through a standardized telestroke program.”

As telestroke treatment use continues to grow, Avizia remains committed to ensuring physicians and executives are informed regarding current industry standards. That is why we are sharing the most recent guidelines from the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) regarding stroke treatment. Overall, this document aims to provide a standardized approach to assessment, diagnosis, management and consultative support to patients exhibiting symptoms and signs that are consistent with acute stroke syndrome.

The new ATA guidelines also address the roles and responsibilities of the responding telehealth team and provide hospital executives with recommendations for seamlessly incorporating telestroke services into their model of care. Furthermore, the guidelines present the agreed-upon roles for coordinating telehealth that are important for support and buy-in of key stakeholders, including the hub/spoke site physician director, the program manager, the emergency department stroke champion and other roles.

Beyond the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information for Economics and Critical Health Act (HITECH), ATA’s guidelines encourage facilities to address privacy and security needs for each of its patients. It also states the importance of providing this information to acute stroke patient families and educating patients about the role of telestroke platforms, including any translation services they may need.

The guidelines encourage facilities to also create an ongoing telehealth budget, so they may stay on top of hardware and software upgrades and address payer reimbursements, grants, private contributions and other fiscal items as they arise.

Perhaps most importantly, telehealth providers also need to have a concrete process to monitor quality and outcome metrics. In addition to ongoing patient care, the document discusses protocols for research and clinical trials. The guidelines recommend that research is needed to compare telehealth to in-person consultations and should conform to local institutional review board approval practices.

As for telehealth solutions themselves, the guidelines say facilities must provide real-time, two-way communications, optimized for bandwidth and monitored for general mobile device management – this includes oversight of apps, data configuration, and security. Devices must also have a passcode, biometric identification or other login protocols and should be configured for point-to-point and, ideally, multiparty connectivity. Organizations looking to use telestroke should consider creating data policy and procedures regarding storage, restrictions and how those are communicated to the referring or consulting site.

As telehealth evolves into a more mature healthcare solution, the industry needs a set of guidelines like the ones created by ATA to ensure cohesive care between facilities. We at Avizia are encouraged by these updated standards and the bright future they detail for the future of virtual care.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[A System-Wide Telehealth Approach]]> https://www.americanwell.com/a-system-wide-telehealth-approach/ 2020-03-23T21:22:14Z 2017-07-12T00:00:00Z Creating a system-wide telehealth program is a long game, but there’s a payoff for hospitals taking a holistic view on the next generation of care delivery. Avizia’s CEO and founder, Mike Baird, discusses why hospitals and health systems need to take a strategic and long-range approach to telehealth. Rather than focusing on single use cases, […]

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Creating a system-wide telehealth program is a long game, but there’s a payoff for hospitals taking a holistic view on the next generation of care delivery.

Avizia’s CEO and founder, Mike Baird, discusses why hospitals and health systems need to take a strategic and long-range approach to telehealth. Rather than focusing on single use cases, providers should take time to consider and how system-wide telehealth will contribute to the next generation of care delivery.

Hospital-based telehealth, as used in a case like stroke or behavioral health, is responsible for significant improvements in specialist access, reductions in length of stay (LOS), a reduction in expected deaths—and increased savings for hospitals participating in value-based reimbursement models. Best of all, patients who have used telehealth appreciate the convenience and access to care.

Stroke and behavioral health are great candidates for telehealth, but there’s a lot that goes into an implementation, like integrating with the EHR, PACS and established clinician workflow. It makes sense that many hospitals focus on one use case at a time, but that approach often leads to more difficult telehealth expansion down the road. Hospitals that see the most success with telehealth start with a system-wide strategy. They may not implement multiple telehealth programs at the same time, but it does give the organization an adaptable blueprint and the assurance that they’ve selected an approach and partners to accommodate changes.

Every healthcare organization is unique, but those with successful and integrated telehealth programs tend to share some common characteristics:

  1. Strategic Leadership
  2. Clinical Advocates
  3. Collaborative IT Teams

Strong leadership from the top coupled with a culture of collaboration will set the right foundation. From there, providers can begin to develop a unique telehealth program that best serves their patient communities.

Creating a system-wide telehealth program is a long game. It won’t happen overnight, nor should the strategy. But there’s a payoff for hospitals taking a holistic view on the next generation of care delivery. Encouraging stakeholders from various departments to take a seat at the table and actively participate in plan development will set the stage for a thriving program.

Read the complete article in Becker’s Hospital Review.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Building a School-Based Telehealth Program? Start With the Nurse]]> https://www.americanwell.com/building-a-school-based-telehealth-program-start-with-the-nurse/ 2020-03-17T19:27:23Z 2017-07-11T00:00:00Z The Medical University of South Carolina’s school-based telehealth program—which is powered by Avizia—has been recognized for its achievements in an article by mHealthIntelligence. With proven results in patient access and outcomes, MUSC has plans to expand its program from 45 to 90 schools in the next year, many of which are in rural and underserved […]

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The Medical University of South Carolina’s school-based telehealth program—which is powered by Avizia—has been recognized for its achievements in an article by mHealthIntelligence.

With proven results in patient access and outcomes, MUSC has plans to expand its program from 45 to 90 schools in the next year, many of which are in rural and underserved communities. MUSC credits the success of its network to hardworking school nurses, fostering a culture of collaboration between healthcare organizations and a flexible, open technology platform.

Read the article at mHealthIntelligence.

School Telehealth Growth Prompts New Role

School-based telehealth programs allows students to be be seen by a pediatrician or specialist remotely, from their school, ultimately minimizing missed classes and long commutes.

Williamsburg County is the first county in South Carolina to implement telehealth at all 11 of its schools, the use has increased over time. With the advent of higher volumes, MUSC developed a new position to offer school nurses support during these telehealth consultations.

Lynn Floyd is the first and now lead tele-presenter for MUSC. She was once a school nurse that used telehealth and now works with multiple school nurses in Williamsburg County. As needed, she presents students to a provider during a telehealth consultation.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Tele-Behavioral Health Reduces the Cost of Mental Illnesses]]> https://www.americanwell.com/tele-behavioral-health-reduces-the-cost-of-mental-illnesses/ 2020-03-17T19:27:37Z 2017-07-11T00:00:00Z Mental health disorders are not an isolated — they have far-reaching effects that drive up costs for both patients and providers. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion per year in lost earnings. While one in five adults experience a mental illness in a given year, […]

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Mental health disorders are not an isolated — they have far-reaching effects that drive up costs for both patients and providers.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion per year in lost earnings. While one in five adults experience a mental illness in a given year, and nearly one in 25 live with a serious mental illness, nearly 60 percent of those adults did not receive mental health services within the last year.

With this ongoing lack of care, patients with mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, end up receiving more expensive emergency care in place of consistent mental health services. In fact, these disorders are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults between ages 18 to 44.

Unfortunately, the high cost of not receiving mental health treatment doesn’t stop there. Individuals that live with mental illnesses also have an increased risk of developing some physical illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

We Need to Do More

One of the top reasons patient do not seek care is the lack of available treatment providers. With approximately one mental health provider per every 529 individuals in the United States there are more than 4,000 areas in America who have a mental health professional shortage.

This existing provider gap can be bridged with the help of telehealth, and, on a positive note, we are making progress in healthcare when it comes to tele-behavioral health programs. A recent Health Affairs study states that tele-behavioral health services are up 45 percent – meaning more patients are getting the care that they need when and where they need it. Despite this encouraging progress, research and data continue to show too many Americans are still in need of care. As a healthcare community, it is critical that we work together and ensure we get every patient the services they need before it is too late.

Tele-Behavioral Health — Cost Efficient & Clinically Effective

Traditionally, delivering exceptional and efficient care to mental health patients is hard to achieve. Due to provider shortages and the rising number of patients, gaps exist in mental health care, especially in emergency departments.

From both a clinical care and financial perspective, the mental health burden on EDs is heavy and is only projected to worsen in the next decade.

Tele-behavioral health, however, is flipping the script on mental health care. By improving access to care and ED throughput, tele-behavioral health is filling the gaps with a true 24/7 solution that is empowering more effective care coordination, decreased wait times and shorter lengths of stay. In both the short and long-term, tele-behavioral health programs better position EDs for a more clinically efficient and financially profitable future.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telestroke May be the Only Way Patients Can Access Stroke Care]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telestroke-may-be-the-only-way-patients-can-access-stroke-care/ 2020-03-17T19:27:49Z 2017-07-06T00:00:00Z A study shows that telestroke programs can help get patients tPA in as little as 40 minutes. Strokes are one of the most pervasive medical emergencies in America, and the numbers are staggering. In the United States, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds and takes a life every 4 minutes. With this prevalence, most people […]

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A study shows that telestroke programs can help get patients tPA in as little as 40 minutes.

Strokes are one of the most pervasive medical emergencies in America, and the numbers are staggering. In the United States, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds and takes a life every 4 minutes. With this prevalence, most people might imagine that finding treatment for stroke victims is as easy as going to the nearest hospital. However, in many cases, there are limited options for patients.

According to a study in the journal Neurology, there is a shortage in the number of available neurologists, which results in dangerous and brain-threatening wait times for patients. The study also concludes that difficulty hiring new neurologists, and the large number of neurologists that do not accept new Medicaid patients, are among the top reasons for the provider shortage.

Telestroke has a proven track record of assisting Medicaid patients as well as other patients, with the expedited stroke care they need. An American Heart Association (AHA) study found that when using telestroke the average time between patient arrival at a hospital to administering tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) fell from 80 minutes to 40 minutes. Also, the average time between the initial onset of a stroke and receiving tPA fell from 150 minutes to 120 minutes when telestroke was available and utilized.

Today, one in 20 deaths in the United States are the result of a stroke. Providing fast, efficient care dramatically improves stroke survival rates. Hospitals with telestroke programs can not only outpace the neurologist shortage but also provide better care while treating more patients.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[How Health Systems Can Address Consumerism Trends with Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7275 2020-03-17T19:28:11Z 2017-06-30T14:27:53Z As goes everything else, healthcare is increasingly being impacted by trends in consumerism as patients seek to make the best decisions for cost and quality. Health systems are in turn being impacted by this great consumer drive to have the best care. The World Health Organization has identified three main goals for health systems: improve […]

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As goes everything else, healthcare is increasingly being impacted by trends in consumerism as patients seek to make the best decisions for cost and quality. Health systems are in turn being impacted by this great consumer drive to have the best care. The World Health Organization has identified three main goals for health systems: improve the health of populations; improve the responsiveness of the health system to the population it serves; and promote fairness in financial contribution.1 Telehealth directly addresses these goals and responds to the consumerism trend. Here is a couple of ways in which telehealth helps health systems meet consumer needs and goals:

Improve the Health of Populations

Health systems are moving toward a fee-for-value payment structure, which means care delivery has shifted from more visits to quality outcomes. Health systems can use telemedicine to manage patients in risk contracts and address population health management challenges. For example, telehealth eye exams are becoming popular among diabetic patients, and image and email-based telemedicine for orthopedic consultations have proven to be effective for treating mild-to-moderately severe fractures while saving patients thousands of miles in travel.2

For consumers, telehealth offers a quick and easy option for addressing healthcare needs. A recent survey by The Advisory Board Company found that consumers are willing to use telehealth for a variety of use cases, like urgent care, oncology, prescription refills, cardiology and orthopedics.3 That same study found that 57% of patients said they would strongly consider using a virtual visit if their child was sick.

Improve health system responsiveness

According to a recent survey by MerrittHawkins, patients are waiting an average of 24 days to schedule an appointment with a doctor. This has increased more than 30% since 2014, and is caused largely by national doctor shortages and population growth.4 Fast forward to the day of the appointment and patients spend 37 minutes on average traveling to the appointment, 64 minutes in the clinic waiting room, and only 20 minutes are spent face-to-face with the doctor.5 By contrast, the average wait time to see a physician via telehealth is five minutes, and requires no travel on the part of the patient.6 These types of immediate video visits are a more responsive alternative to treating patients in person. Types of responsive telemedicine visits include everything from episodic urgent care, to second opinions and behavioral health.

Health systems recognize telehealth’s invaluable role in meeting these goals, along with the goals they set for themselves as an organization. Yet telehealth is still a relatively new care delivery model. The health systems that have deployed telehealth in the past five years are considered pioneers in the industry. They’ve tested and optimized to get the most out of their telehealth program, and steadily developed a roadmap for implementation.

If you’re interested in how to get started with telehealth, Amwell has also created a roadmap to help you. To speak with one of our team members about how telehealth can enhance the care delivery model of your health system, reach out to us today to learn more.

 

1: World Health Organization, World Health Survey, 2003. 2: The Advisory Board Company, Direct-to-patient telemedicine: Future promise, present barrier 2016, 3: The Advisory Board Company, What Do Consumers Want from Virtual Visits, 2017, 4: Merritt Hawkins, 2017 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times, 2017, 5: Harvard Medical School, Paying for health care with time, 2015, 6: HIT Consultant, In-Person Visit vs. Telehealth Visit? Time is Money, 2015, 7: Amwell, Setting the Medical Record Straight: Integrating Telehealth With Your EMR, 2017.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth Helps Veterans Gain Access to Care]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-helps-veterans-gain-access-to-care/ 2020-03-17T19:28:26Z 2017-06-29T00:00:00Z Our U.S. service members have been engaged in more than a decade of combat activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. These missions require bravery in the face of danger, the outcomes of which often have a long-lasting impact on the lives of these men and women. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates a post-traumatic […]

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Our U.S. service members have been engaged in more than a decade of combat activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. These missions require bravery in the face of danger, the outcomes of which often have a long-lasting impact on the lives of these men and women.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) estimates a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) incidence rate of 11 to 20 out of every 100 veterans that served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. However, nationwide, only about 8 percent of the 5 million veterans using VA-provided care get diagnosed with the disorder. This large care gap comes at a somber price: Each day, an estimated 18 to 22 veterans die by suicide.

Telehealth can help address the lack of care our veterans face, particularly in instances where they are living in remote areas, far from specialist or an ideal point of care.

Today, approximately 3.3 million of the veterans in the VA’s purview live in remote regions with limited access to healthcare services. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that telehealth was an effective option in treating veterans with PTSD that would otherwise resist treatment, either due to geographic reasons or the stigma surrounding mental health services. Additionally, a Telemedicine and E-Health Journal study found that telehealth visits were dramatically cheaper for the VA since many in-person visits to remote places required extensive travel.

When service members return from combat, deserve to have access to the care they need. Providing veterans with mental and behavioral telehealth care is just one way to ensure these men and woman receive the care they need when and where they need it.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Moving Towards a Value-Based Care System Under MACRA: How Telehealth Can Help]]> https://www.americanwell.com/moving-towards-a-value-based-care-system-under-macra-how-telehealth-can-help/ 2020-03-17T19:28:43Z 2017-06-27T12:00:00Z The transition from fee-for-service to fee-for-value continued this year with the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, known as MACRA, a new pay-for-performance program driving large-scale changes to the current Medicare reimbursement schedule for providers. Yet, health systems are still trying to assess what this new payment system means for their operations […]

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The transition from fee-for-service to fee-for-value continued this year with the implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, known as MACRA, a new pay-for-performance program driving large-scale changes to the current Medicare reimbursement schedule for providers. Yet, health systems are still trying to assess what this new payment system means for their operations and how best to take advantage of MACRA’s opportunities.

A recent Deloitte article “MACRA: Quietly transforming health care” discussed how MACRA rewards physicians for improving the way they deliver care while transforming payment and care delivery models to reduce costs and total expenditures under the Medicare program. The article continues to describe a meeting Deloitte Center for Health Solutions and the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation facilitated with 31 provider stakeholders to discuss some of the challenges they’ve encountered and how best to move towards a value-based care system.

Participants expressed a willingness to work through barriers and come up with solutions, despite the challenges they face in implementing MACRA. These challenges include tracking and reporting new quality measures, accounting for risks with new payment models, and overcoming obstacles that come with implementing new technology platforms.

Considering some of the challenges, we’ve identified that telemedicine can help support value-based care initiatives in the following ways:

  • Access solution: Telemedicine extends patient reach and expands access to care to those in rural communities as well as those who are unable to travel to a health system’s facility.
  • Engagement strategy: By incorporating telehealth, health systems are giving patients another avenue to engage. Telemedicine oftentimes allows for more one-on-one time with a patient compared to an in-person visit, resulting in more valued engagements.
  • Adherence to practice guidelines: Quality is of utmost importance. By utilizing telemedicine and incorporating practice guidelines to a health system’s workflow, the quality of the virtual visits with patients greatly exceeds.

From a legislative standpoint, we’re getting to a place where telehealth is poised to play a pivotal role in, and have a strong impact on, the transition towards value-based care. Telehealth legislation is continuously changing, at both the state and federal level, allowing for greater opportunities to assist health systems move towards value-based care and scale their services to meet the needs of both patients and providers.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[HEART Act Targets Medicare Limits on Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/heart-act-targets-medicare-limits-on-telehealth/ 2020-03-17T19:29:36Z 2017-06-26T00:00:00Z Addressing the barriers facing telehealth, despite its low cost and high efficacy. A bill introduced last month in the House of Representatives seeks to improve access to telehealth services in the rural United States and takes square aim at expanding remote patient monitoring (RPM) related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. Introduced […]

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Addressing the barriers facing telehealth, despite its low cost and high efficacy.

A bill introduced last month in the House of Representatives seeks to improve access to telehealth services in the rural United States and takes square aim at expanding remote patient monitoring (RPM) related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

Introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) the Helping Expand Access to Rural Telehealth (HEART) Act targets the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) strict limitations on RPM reimbursements in rural areas. Currently, CMS has a narrow definition of “rural,” which leaves many patients ineligible for reimbursement. Of the 107,000 telemedicine visits for Medicare beneficiaries recorded in 2013, approximately 40,000 of them served rural areas.

The HEART Act is one of many recent efforts to address the barriers facing telehealth, despite its low cost and high efficacy. During the month of May, the U.S. Senate also introduced the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2017, which further aims to expand telehealth services in rural areas and allow the Department of Health and Human Services to lift existing telehealth restrictions.

Telemedicine programs are often cheaper than other options for patients. As of 2012, the average cost of a telehealth program was $1,600 per patient each year, versus $13,000 for home health services and $70,000 for nursing home care.

The heart-related diseases addressed by the HEART Act are disproportionately concerning in less populated areas. COPD is more prevalent in rural U.S. regions, and a 2014 study in the Journal of Rural Health found these populations face higher hospitalization rates and increased mortality, in spite of controlling for this population’s higher rate of smoking. A separate study in the Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care found that telehealth improved knowledge, self-care behaviors and health outcomes of rural heart failure diseases while cutting cost and improving patient satisfaction.

Eliminating barriers for telehealth in rural populations is essential to providing high-risk patients with the care they need. Today, about one-fifth of the population in rural regions of the U.S. are on Medicaid and/or Medicare. Telehealth can provide these patients with easy access to care at a lower cost and with better outcomes. Removing reimbursement barriers is a logical and vital step in enhancing patient care throughout the U.S – particularly in rural regions.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[CBO Score Allows CHRONIC Care Act to Pass Hurdle]]> https://www.americanwell.com/cbo-score-allows-chronic-care-act-to-pass-hurdle/ 2020-03-17T19:29:46Z 2017-06-23T00:00:00Z Will Expand Medicate Telehealth Coverage A bipartisan group of US Senators recently reintroduced the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (or CHRONIC, for short) Care Act of 2017 (first introduced in 2016), intended to improve healthcare outcomes for Medicare recipients living with chronic conditions. To facilitate these improved outcomes, the bill included […]

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Will Expand Medicate Telehealth Coverage

A bipartisan group of US Senators recently reintroduced the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (or CHRONIC, for short) Care Act of 2017 (first introduced in 2016), intended to improve healthcare outcomes for Medicare recipients living with chronic conditions. To facilitate these improved outcomes, the bill included various new provisions to Medicare. Several parts of the bill also created new programs to foster the innovation and advancement of telehealth technology, as well as expand access to it for Medicare enrollees.

One of the big reasons the bill was not previously considered had to do with concerns that it would lead to increased costs, or that altering the current Medicare reimbursement policy on telemedicine might result in increased healthcare spending.

All of that changed when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their preliminary cost estimate report on the CHRONIC Care Act. The report gave the bill a favorable score, which lead to unanimous bipartisan support. The bill received a scheduled mark-up from the Senate Finance Committee and the legislation was put to a roll call vote. It was approved with a sweeping 26-0 vote. This means that the CHRONIC Care Act can now move on to the Senate for final vote and passage.

When it comes to telemedicine and telehealth, the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017 will put a number of new provisions into action, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Increase the cap on the total number of participating beneficiaries from 10,000 to 15,000.
  • Establishes a two-year extension of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Independence at Home demonstration, establishing home-based primary care teams for Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.
  • Starting in 2019, it will add home freestanding dialysis facilities, without geographic restriction, to the list of originating sites for monthly telehealth assessments.
  • Also in 2019, it will eliminate geographic restrictions on telestroke consultation services. However, originating sites will not be separated. The hospital location and the location of physician providing a remote consult will not receive separate originating site payments.
  • Beginning in 2020, it will expand telehealth coverage under Medicare Advantage Plan B.
  • Lastly, it will provide increased flexibility for Accountable Care Organizations to use telehealth services.

Considering the amount of bipartisan support the bill has already demonstrated, the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017 is likely to be passed by the U.S. Senate in the very near future. Be sure to stay tuned to our blog for future updates.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[How Telestroke Technology is Saving Lives (and Brains): Part 2 of 2]]> https://www.americanwell.com/how-telestroke-technology-is-saving-lives-and-brains-part-2-of-2/ 2020-03-17T19:30:02Z 2017-06-22T00:00:00Z Tools of the Telestroke Trade In the first installment of this two-part blog series, we discussed the goals and benefits of telestroke technology—what it is, how it is used, why it matters, etc. However, telestroke programs need to be implemented along with the proper tools and infrastructure/support in order for them to be truly effective. […]

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Tools of the Telestroke Trade

In the first installment of this two-part blog series, we discussed the goals and benefits of telestroke technology—what it is, how it is used, why it matters, etc. However, telestroke programs need to be implemented along with the proper tools and infrastructure/support in order for them to be truly effective. In this second and final installment, we will be looking at both the basics of telestroke systems as well as some of the amazing telestroke technology that healthcare providers are using to save the lives (and brains) of stroke victims.

The Basics of a Telestroke System

The basic arrangement of any telestroke system begins with establishing a secure but efficient method of video/audio communication that links the facility/patient to the attending neurologist. As its foundation, any telestroke program must be equipped with reliable and high-speed internet that is capable of handling the kind of high-resolution, real-time video conferencing solutions that make it possible for the neurologist, nursing staff, and patient to communicate clearly and without interruption. After all, the entire point of implementing a telestroke system is to allow the attending neurologist to remotely evaluate the patient—symptoms and severity, remote viewing of CT scans, observe motor skills/function, etc.—in order to expedite diagnosis and delivery of treatment.

Considering that there is only a three hour window for administering treatment after a stroke, time is the most critical factor. After that three hour window expires, the odds of patient recovery plummet significantly. According to one study, stroke victims who were treated with anti-clot drugs within the first ninety minutes had a nearly 250% better chance of recovery after three months (when compared to patients who did not receive treatment within three hours). This means that a having a properly equipped telestroke system is crucial to its success.

Game-Changing Telestroke Tech

While it is safe to say that any stroke treatment facility would benefit from the implementation of a telestroke system, it is important to remember that such a system is often only as useful as the technology that supports it. Luckily, a lot of amazing telestroke tech is already on the market and advancements in new tools and solutions are being made every year. Let’s take a look at some of the game-changing technology that is transforming the world of stroke care:

  • Telestroke/Telemedicine Carts: These “carts” are actually mobile communication units equipped with everything a neurologist needs to administer remote care—internet capability, high resolution cameras, microphones, multiple viewing screens, and more.
  • Telestroke/Telehealth Software:To put it simply, these apps are what makes the remote use of telestroke hardware (telemedicine carts) possible. The neurologist can remotely connect to the cart via a secure, HIPAA-compliant software and apps that allows him or her (using and computer, laptop or mobile device) to speak with/observe/evaluate the patient, view CT scans, give instructions to nursing staff, etc. Mobile telestroke apps have untethered stroke care providers from desktop computers, allowing them to deliver nearly immediate care from anywhere and at any time.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[How Telestroke Technology is Saving Lives (and Brains): Part 1 of 2]]> https://www.americanwell.com/how-telestroke-technology-is-saving-lives-and-brains-part-1-of-2/ 2020-03-17T19:30:21Z 2017-06-14T00:00:00Z What is Telestroke Technology? Since the turn of the millennium, the United States has experienced a continuing surge in the number of stroke victims seen in hospitals across the country. According to a study released in 2015 by the American Heart Association, roughly 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke annually and an estimated […]

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What is Telestroke Technology?

Since the turn of the millennium, the United States has experienced a continuing surge in the number of stroke victims seen in hospitals across the country. According to a study released in 2015 by the American Heart Association, roughly 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke annually and an estimated 6.6 million Americans age 20 or older had experienced a stroke by 2012. In 2011 alone, strokes accounted for 1 in every 20 deaths in the US (a 35.1% increase from 2001), and on average, a death from stroke occurred roughly every 4 minutes. The study also predicts that, by 2030, an additional 3.4 million Americans age 18 or older will have experienced a stroke (a 20.5% increase from 2012).

As one would expect, this continued rise in stroke cases has created a growing need among neurologists, hospitals, etc.—for more efficient and speedy care methods for both new and recurrent stroke patients. Rising to meet this need, healthcare tech firms such as Avizia are creating new and developing “Telestroke” technologies to assist healthcare providers in their increasingly frequent battles to save the lives (and brains) of their patients.

Telestroke in Emergency DepartmentWhat is Telestroke Technology?

Telestroke technology (sometimes called “telestroke services” or “telestroke solutions”) refers to a specific type of tools and/or solutions—both hardware and software—that provide neurologists with the ability to perform immediate, real-time, and/or remote diagnosis and treatment to a stroke victim.  While this sort of technology is considered a part of the broader telemedicine spectrum, it focuses specifically on speeding up the delivery of care to stroke patients. And, when it comes to strokes, every moment matters.

Any stroke (whether ischemic, hemorrhagic, or TIA) causes immediate damage to the human brain. Every minute the patient goes without treatment, the odds of his or her recovery (and, in some cases, even survival) steadily worsen. Therefore, it is crucial that a neurologist begins treating a stroke victim as soon as possible.

In the days before telestroke, when a patient arrived at the hospital, the on-call neurologist had to be contacted and then had to physically travel to the hospital before treatment could begin. This, obviously, took precious time… time in which the patient was not able to receive a potentially lifesaving tPA or PLAT treatment.

In today’s world, however, the advancement of the internet, high resolution imaging, and digital communications has made it possible for telestroke technologies to vastly improve the speed of care. In fact, according to information from Kaiser-Permanente, they experienced a 73 percent increase in use of tPA/PLAT for patients with acute ischemic stroke after they implemented use of telestroke technology in their facilities.

In Part 2 of this blog, we will discuss the basics of telestroke programs as well as examine some of the game-changing tools and solutions that are helping to saves the lives and brains of today’s stroke victims.

Interesting in learning more? Check out this video recording of our Advancements in Telestroke webinar with Dr. Lee Schwamm, the Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Executive Vice Chairman of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth Cross-State Licensure Process Now Live in 8 States]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-cross-state-licensure-process-now-live-in-8-states/ 2020-03-17T19:30:39Z 2017-06-07T00:00:00Z An initiative that closes the gap on providing rural areas with the telehealth access they need recently passed a major milestone. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) — a plan devised by a group of state medical board executives, administrators and attorneys to provide cross-state licensure to physicians to bolster telehealth practices — saw its […]

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An initiative that closes the gap on providing rural areas with the telehealth access they need recently passed a major milestone.

Telehealth LicensureThe Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) — a plan devised by a group of state medical board executives, administrators and attorneys to provide cross-state licensure to physicians to bolster telehealth practices — saw its first eight states enact the measure. Now, medical professionals that maintain primary licensure in Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming can practice telemedicine in any of the 18 states involved in the compact. The remaining 10 states‚ Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Utah, are still preparing to accept applications for verification and background checks but currently cannot act as the state of principal licensure.

Prior to the IMLC, physicians that wanted to provide treatment via telemedicine outside of their primary state had to apply through a separate licensing process — one that varies widely between states and can take years to complete.

For additional states to join the IMLC, their state legislature must pass a bill — containing identical language as the states currently in the compact — authorizing it to do so, which then needs to be signed by the government.

This is an important step for the telehealth field, which has been seeking parity in comparison to traditional, in-person medicine since its inception. In a 2015 report, the American Hospital Association named licensure one of the major legal and regulatory challenges that could stymie telehealth adoption.

Many of the states participating in the compact contain rural populations that have less access to medical care. The National Rural Health Association reported in February that this trend will likely continue, with more than one-third of rural hospitals potentially facing financial instability in the near future, leaving 11.7 million patients at risk of losing their health care access.

The IMLC can provide these patients with convenient access to top doctors and specialists, for everything from preventative care to ongoing treatment to emergencies. This compact is a step in the right direction for a medical future democratized by telehealth.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Detecting, Treating & Recovering from Stroke: How Telemedicine Can Help!]]> https://www.americanwell.com/detecting-treating-recovering-from-stroke-how-telemedicine-can-help/ 2020-03-17T19:31:39Z 2017-06-05T00:00:00Z Knowing the early warning signs and getting rapid access to care are essential to reducing the effects of the stroke. In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association equates a 4 percent improvement for every 15-minutes cut from the treatment of an ischemic stroke — the most common kind. We at Avizia want […]

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Knowing the early warning signs and getting rapid access to care are essential to reducing the effects of the stroke. In fact, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association equates a 4 percent improvement for every 15-minutes cut from the treatment of an ischemic stroke — the most common kind.

We at Avizia want to do our part to ensure that everyone is aware of the early warning signs of this cerebrovascular disruption, the benefits of using telemedicine in the event of a stroke and the steps every patient should take after receiving treatment.

Detecting a Stroke

The American Stroke Association (ASA), an affiliate of the American Heart Association (AHA), pioneered the FAST method of detection, a four-step guide to identifying a stroke. Here’s how to tell if a person is in need of help:

  1. Face Drooping — Can the person smile evenly or is half their smile drooping or numb?
  2. Arm Weakness — Does the person have difficulty raising both arms over their head? Is one arm is weak or numb?
  3. Speech Difficulty — Can the victim repeat simple phrases without slurring their words?
  4. Time to Call 911 — Patients do not have to experience every one of these symptoms to need care. If any of them are occurring, call 911 and get them to a hospital immediately.

Strokes may also present through other symptoms, like sudden confusion, numbness or weakness on one side of the body, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden dizziness or loss of balance, and a severe sudden headache with no known cause. Be sure to educate those you know and act quickly before the symptoms escalate.

Treating Strokes with Telemedicine

Telestroke Success Story

It is widely known in the field that when it comes to stokes, time lost is brain lost. With industry reports showing that the demand for neurologists is projected to increase from 18,180 in 2012 (11 percent shortfall) to 21,440 by 2025 (19 percent shortfall), telemedicine offers a fast, reliable solution for patients and caregivers to access the right point of care before it is too late. Aside from filling the existing provider gap, telemedicine offers numerous additional benefits in the event of a stroke, including:

  1. Time Savings — Telestroke is a highly effective tool for minimizing long-term damage from stroke and preventing death. Accessing care quickly in the event of a stroke is critical and with telestroke services specialists are never more than a click away.
  2. Cost Savings & Improved Quality of Life — According to researchers at Mayo Clinic when comparing a rurally located patient receiving routine stroke care at a community hospital, a patient treated in the context of a telestroke network incurred $1,436 lower costs and gained 0.02 quality-adjusted life-years over a lifetime.
  3. Post-Stroke Services — If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke you may need additional care or services that can be difficult to access after an event. With telemedicine, specialists can perform live video consultations and review patient medical images from any smart phone, tablet or computer with a web browser – meaning patients get the care they need when and where they need it.

 

Recovering From a Stroke

After a stroke patient has received care, it’s important they feel confident during their recovery. The ASA recommends that patients and their friends and family discuss a few important details with their health care provider to ensure the best possible recovery.

  1. Understand What Happened — Discuss with a doctor what your diagnosis was and what caused the stroke. This can help guide future visits and help the patient make lifestyle choices that fit their diagnosis.
  2. What’s Next — Could the patient have another stroke? How long should recovery and rehabilitation take? Knowing the possible physical, emotional, behavioral and communication challenges after a stroke are important to gauge the steps of recovery.
  3. Living Arrangements — Can the patient live alone? Should they take any safety precautions to prepare their home? Are there any tasks they will need help with? These answers can provide friends and family with the knowledge the need to feel secure with the patient’s path ahead.
  4. Medications — Knowing what types of medication and medical supplies a patient needs going forward is critical to ongoing care. They also need information on what their insurance covers and other ways to get help with costs.

For a complete stroke patient checklist, visit ASA’s website.

Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Knowing the signs and symptoms and providing them with quick access to care is essential to improving their prognosis.  At Avizia, we are committed to cutting down time to care, and being armed with the right information is the first step. See how Avizia is helping emergency departments access stroke neurologist hundreds of miles away.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Mental Health Awareness Month: Telehealth Addresses Escalating Needs]]> https://www.americanwell.com/mental-health-awareness-month-telehealth-addresses-escalating-needs/ 2020-03-17T19:31:14Z 2017-05-31T00:00:00Z Mental Health Awareness Month has a nearly 70-year history of informing the public about one of the biggest medical issues affecting the country. And while the mental health field has made great strides to destigmatize its services, the numbers prove that a trip to the therapist’s office is still out of reach for many patients […]

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Mental Health Awareness Month has a nearly 70-year history of informing the public about one of the biggest medical issues affecting the country. And while the mental health field has made great strides to destigmatize its services, the numbers prove that a trip to the therapist’s office is still out of reach for many patients in need of care.

The Journal of the American Medical Association found that one-third of adults that screen positive for depression have never received treatment. While there are countless reasons why people skip making an appointment, part of the blame lies with lack of access to mental care.

As of March 2012, nearly 91 million people live in a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area. These staggering numbers are backed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who estimate 55 percent of rural counties have no psychologists, psychiatrists or social workers.

This is a problem that telehealth can help address.

A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that tele-psychiatry is just as effective as in-room psychotherapy regimes. Certainly for rural populations, telehealth is often the only way to access mental and behavioral health care, but for busy people on the go, getting an hour out of their week each week to talk to a therapist can also be difficult. If these patients could get the same benefits as an in-person appointment from the comfort of their own couch, it could give them the opportunity to access the care they need.

In addition to planned telehealth visits with a psychiatrist or psychologist, telemedicine for behavior health could help fill the critical psychiatric care gap at rural emergency departments. These patients are often admitted to the hospital and wait for a specialist, or are transferred to a regional facility where a specialist can address their needs. These unnecessary admissions and transfers are costly to hospitals and result in longer wait times for patients in need of immediate care.

In a nation where one in five adults experience a mental health issue in a given year, addressing the mental health care gap is critical to providing the services these patients need. Whether these patients are in rural areas or are just having difficulty carving out time for an in-person visit, telehealth can provide a quick, easy-to-use solution to ensure they are getting the mental health services they need.

Avizia is empowering hospitals and health systems to offer tele-behavioral health consultations from mental health professionals to quickly deliver care to patients presenting in an emergency department or other medical settings. As a result, hospitals are lowering their costs while patients are gaining immediate access to better quality care.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Telemedicine: A cure for physician burnout?]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7198 2017-05-25T14:50:30Z 2017-05-25T14:48:13Z Original article posted on KevinMD.com At the end of my daughter’s first week of preschool, she came home with a burning question: “Mom, my friend at school says that she has two days in a row when she and her mommy and daddy are all home at the same time. They call it a weekend. […]

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Original article posted on KevinMD.com

At the end of my daughter’s first week of preschool, she came home with a burning question: “Mom, my friend at school says that she has two days in a row when she and her mommy and daddy are all home at the same time. They call it a weekend. Will we ever have a weekend?”

I was floored. That simple question encapsulated the only life she had known as a doctor’s daughter. In the four years since she was born, she had never had a consistent, secure time when I would be home. I had her while I was still in residency, and 80-hour workweeks were more common than 40-hour ones. When I graduated from residency, in an effort to spend more time with my family, I took a shift work position in a hospital. Working 12- and 24-hour shifts meant that I could be home on my off days, but it also meant that nights, weekends, and holidays were all fair game. In addition, driving to the hospital required significant commuting time; my drive home after a 24-hour shift could easily be over an hour, compounding my exhaustion. Read the full article here

If you’re interested in practicing telehealth, click here to learn more!

Frustrated doctor sitting in hospital waiting area

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Licensing and Credentialing in Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/licensing-and-credentialing-in-telehealth/ 2020-03-17T19:31:24Z 2017-05-16T12:00:00Z In the world of telehealth, licensing and credentialing issues are amongst the initial concerns many health systems have when considering integrating telemedicine into their system. As state medical and nursing boards require providers to be licensed to practice in the state where the patient is physically located, a simplified process is essential. The Interstate Medical […]

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In the world of telehealth, licensing and credentialing issues are amongst the initial concerns many health systems have when considering integrating telemedicine into their system. As state medical and nursing boards require providers to be licensed to practice in the state where the patient is physically located, a simplified process is essential.

The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is a streamlined process that allows physicians already licensed to practice in one state that is participating in the compact, to become licensed in other states participating in the compact without going through the full licensure process. There is a nursing compact for RNs interested in streamlining the licensing process as well. The purpose behind these compacts is to make it easier for physicians and nurses to obtain licenses in other states in order to increase accessible healthcare to individuals in underserved and/or rural areas. It also assists in the overall ease of consulting with a medical professional through telemedicine to the general population.

As telehealth continues to grow as an industry, more of these resources and innovative payment models will begin to surface. Here are three of the most common questions asked regarding licensing and credentialing for telehealth:

Do telemedicine providers have to be licensed in the state where their patients are?

Yes. States do require providers to be licensed in each state that they practice in, which means it is essential for them to know which state the patient is calling from to verify that they can indeed participate in the virtual visit. The physical location of the provider is not considered an important factor in regards to where they are licensed, though this varies state-to-state.

What is Credentialing?

Credentialing is the process of evaluating and verifying the qualifications of physicians, nurses, organizational members, or organizations’ current licensure and assessing their background and legitimacy. This process tends to be completed by the organization that will bill for the provider’s services.

Do telemedicine providers have to be credentialed? If so, where?

Telemedicine provider credentialing requirements are usually based on the source of payment the patient chooses to use for the service. Whether or not the provider must be credentialed at the facility where they are located while practicing is typically specific to the type of facility and what the rules and guidelines are for that facility. Providers do generally need to be credentialed at the facility where the patient is located as well.

These questions are just a starting point. To learn more about licensing, credentialing, and the ever-changing telemedicine landscape, visit the Center for Connected Health Policy.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[ATA President’s Award Winners: Pushing the needle in telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7138 2017-05-02T16:31:45Z 2017-05-02T16:31:45Z Originally published on MedCity News One is a father who knew there had to be a way to remotely diagnose his daughter’s chronic ear infections. Another is a metropolitan healthcare system expanding its reach through virtual care. There are telehealth advocates working to promote the field across the country, and a team of experts spreading […]

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Originally published on MedCity News

One is a father who knew there had to be a way to remotely diagnose his daughter’s chronic ear infections. Another is a metropolitan healthcare system expanding its reach through virtual care. There are telehealth advocates working to promote the field across the country, and a team of experts spreading the word to pediatrics.

These are the winners of this year’s American Telemedicine Association President’s Awards, which recognize substantial contributions in telehealth advancement. Discover how the awardees are propelling telehealth forward by reading the full article here.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Employee Spotlight]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7122 2020-03-17T19:32:50Z 2017-04-24T16:39:55Z Name: Ian Ives Title: Visual Design Manager Start Date: December 27, 2016 What attracted you to Amwell? Amwell is changing the way we think about healthcare – in a revolutionary way – and I’m excited to be a part of it! For the first time, anyone with a mobile device or computer can have access […]

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Name: Ian Ives

Title: Visual Design Manager

Start Date: December 27, 2016

What attracted you to Amwell?

Amwell is changing the way we think about healthcare – in a revolutionary way – and I’m excited to be a part of it! For the first time, anyone with a mobile device or computer can have access to high quality care at a fraction of the cost of a traditional in-person doctor visit. Additionally, doctors can collaborate peer-to-peer on the Amwell platform using multiway video visits – even bringing patients into the visits to provide the best possible care. As a visual designer, I’m on the team that creates the graphics, user-interface, and user-experience of a virtual doctor’s visit, as well as designs strategic presentations for investors, partners and clients.

What were you doing before you came to Amwell?

Before coming to Amwell, I worked as a communications designer at a financial firm. My job involved creating and designing presentations for the CEO, executive team and strategic clients. I would often meet and consult with presenters to help “bring their presentation to life,” and ensure their message and story were clear. I also worked on various mobile app mock-ups, digital design, and print design for posters, signage, awards, brochures, logos, etc.

What does a day in the life of a visual design manager at Amwell look like?

As a visual designer at Amwell, I work closely with the Corporate Development team to create presentations that not only visually dazzle our clients and strategic partners, but also provide critical information about telehealth in an easy-to-understand, digestible way. Since telehealth can have a broad range of use cases across the healthcare industry, it’s important for us to communicate our vision for the future of telehealth as clearly and succinctly as possible.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I was born and raised just outside of Boston (in the suburb of Newton), which means I’m an addict for all things Patriots and Red Sox. My wife and I are big foodies, so we’re constantly looking for new restaurants off the beaten path. We love to travel and explore new, exotic locations around the world – although nothing beats a relaxing day at the beach, with a Corona and lime in hand. I’ve gotten into boxing the past few years, and love it for the workout and stress relief. I still try to play pick-up lacrosse and soccer games whenever I can.

Have you used Amwell’s direct-to-consumer app, Amwell?

My dad and I used the app after his knee replacement. He was worried because he could feel – and hear – an uncomfortable “clicking” in his knee when he tried to walk. Since it was the weekend, and since he was still recovering from the surgery, we wanted to avoid traveling to the hospital for an in-person visit. The Amwell app was perfect for this situation. He loved the doctor, and found out the “clicking” was completely normal, and even got exercise tips on how to strengthen his knee.

What are your thoughts on the ways healthcare is changing and what we can expect to see in the future?

I believe telehealth will become deeply embedded into our everyday lives. New consumer healthcare devices that are being released can display your health data on your mobile phone, and integrate seamlessly into your daily life. In the not-so-distant future, data from these healthcare devices could alert us to the risk of an imminent heart attack, a genetic predisposition to diseases, and more! The possibilities are endless, and the technology needed for this kind of care is available today, which is why this is such an exciting time in the healthcare industry.

When you talk about telehealth and your role here with friends and family, what do you say?

I tell my friends and family that I’m designing the future of healthcare. I explain to them the Amwell suite of products, how they work, and how they benefit everyone who uses them. The response I get is always a unanimous, “Of course! That’s so obvious, why isn’t telehealth the universal standard of healthcare?” I tell them not to worry, it will be soon! I believe the hallmark of a revolutionary idea is how “obvious” it seems at first. When it’s finally implemented and becomes a staple in daily life, those same people will be saying, “How did we ever live without this?”

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[How telehealth has enhanced Cleveland Clinic’s value-based care strategy]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7079 2020-03-17T19:33:19Z 2017-04-07T17:36:40Z Matt Stanton, senior director of distance health at Cleveland Clinic, discussed how Cleveland Clinic incorporated telehealth into its spectrum of care and services.

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Originally posted by Becker’s Hospital Review

Interest in the telehealth industry has grown rapidly in recent years, with 78.5 percent of healthcare consumers reporting they would be comfortable interacting with a physician via online video or online chat, according to a 2016 report out of the Aloft Group — even if almost half of respondents were still not familiar with the term “telemedicine.”

As reimbursement models uphold outcomes over volume of services rendered, hospitals are tasked to improve the health of the populations they serve both within and outside of their walls. Given its capacity to reach patients in their homes, provide early intervention and care for minor conditions and alleviate overutilization of hospitals’ emergency rooms, telemedicine has become an integral part of many hospitals’ core patient access strategy.

In a recent webinar, Matt Stanton, senior director of distance health at Cleveland Clinic, and Danielle Russella, president of customer solutions at Amwell, discussed how Cleveland Clinic incorporated telehealth into its spectrum of care and services.

In September 2014, Cleveland Clinic partnered with Amwell to deliver urgent care via telehealth. The partnership set out to increase patient access to care, support Cleveland Clinic’s transition to value-based care, improve efficiency and expand the system’s reach to new patients.

“Part of this is about expanding our access and our reach, around the world, without having to build buildings all the time,” Mr. Stanton said. “We recognize that’s not a long-term sustainable strategy, to keep building hospitals.”

How to determine where to implement telemedicine
Although Cleveland Clinic’s partnership with Amwell began with urgent care, it has since expanded to cover a range of services, from specialty follow-up care to remote second opinions.

“We’ve seen that the real value of telehealth goes well beyond urgent care,” Ms. Russella said of the services Amwell offers, which include patient-to-provider and provider-to-provider interaction. “We’ve watched and influenced how our clients have taken our infrastructure to market. In the early days, it was specifically with urgent care. Today, it’s with all kinds of care.”

Postoperative follow-up care, home care, chronic care and behavioral healthcare are all areas ripe for remote intervention. For chronic care, in particular, Cleveland Clinic has seen success with a few different initiatives.

The hospital is nearing the end of a six-month hypertension pilot project, during which roughly 100 patients would track data from remote monitoring devices at home. That data was integrated with Cleveland Clinic’s telehealth platform. Providers could then view these vital signs, such as blood pressure, during scheduled virtual visits, to help patients manage their care.

“I do think urgent care is a good place to get started,” Mr. Stanton said, “but in thinking about where you would go outside of urgent care, I think this is where telemedicine really becomes part of the fabric of healthcare.”

Telemedicine helps health systems foster innovation
Incorporating telemedicine into a health system’s strategy presents opportunity to create innovative tools to support population health management. For example, Cleveland Clinic is working to develop an app for patients with chronic back pain. Once complete, the app will be introduced to patients who come to the ER with low back pain. Instead of immediately referring such patients to specialists, they can use the app to learn exercises that can help relieve their pain and also track any improvements in their pain level over time. With such tools, patients are empowered to address their condition at home.

“I think this is where providers need to be thinking about using telemedicine, if we really want to make a difference in our patients’ lives,” Mr. Stanton said of Cleveland Clinic’s expansion into experimental modes of remote care.

Three factors for a successful telehealth program

1. Staff engagement. To build a shared understanding of the role and value of telehealth with the clinical team, Mr. Stanton suggested reaching out to medical staff directly.

“We do have make sure everybody on the team understands why we’re doing this, why it’s good for patients and what exactly the process is going to be,” he explained. “There is no staff meeting that is too early in the morning or too late at night to show up at and present the concept.”

Along with staff outreach, Mr. Stanton highlighted how Cleveland Clinic’s CEO has been a strong proponent of virtual healthcare, and has been strongly encouraging department chairs to integrate it into their services.

“In my opinion, it really comes down to the physician, nurse and administrator,” Mr. Stanton said. “Without any one of these three people being excited about doing this, invariably it becomes very difficult to get it launched.”

2. EMR integration. When Cleveland Clinic first launched its telehealth program, physicians scheduled e-visits without EMR integration. This posed an issue for physicians who were looking to bring information from the virtual visits into their patient notes.

Today, Cleveland Clinic’s EMR supports scheduling on the telehealth platform, and automatically inputs data into patients’ medical records based on information they provide online. The EMR has also integrated revenue cycle management capabilities, to help streamline patient payments.

“Once we got our scheduled integration done with our EMR, it enormously increased our ability to get departments launched and eliminated all sorts of training we had to do for front desk personnel,” Mr. Stanton explained.

3. Patient awareness. One of the main drivers of growth for the telehealth program also took the form of increasing patient awareness of virtual healthcare services — which often fell under the purview of marketing.

“I wouldn’t underestimate the amount of awareness that you have to build on the patient side,” Mr. Stanton said. “There’s a fair amount of talking to them about why this is appropriate for them and that we’re only using this in situations where we feel that it’s clinically appropriate, but I think all of that is going to evolve as this becomes a more visible part of the healthcare system.”

To drive patient awareness, Cleveland Clinic launched a few different marketing campaigns, including email outreach. Outside of more traditional marketing attempts, Cleveland Clinic also debuted a telehealth-focused advertisement during this past February’s Super Bowl LI, which Mr. Stanton said led to a spike in traffic on the hospital’s website and app.

Through developing innovative remote services and building awareness among providers and patients, hospitals like Cleveland Clinic are able to deploy and establish successful telehealth programs. As outcomes continue to determine an increasing share of reimbursement under value-based payment models, a comprehensive telehealth strategy will continue to help healthcare organizations stay competitive.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Adopting Telehealth to Meet Your Health System’s Goals]]> https://www.americanwell.com/adopting-telehealth-to-meet-your-health-systems-goals/ 2020-03-17T19:33:32Z 2017-04-06T12:00:00Z Avizia has helped many health systems explore the ways technology can expand their service offering. Each organization comes to this exercise with their own unique set of priorities. But all must align their investment in technology with their current and future business goals. To help our partners do this effectively, we’ve developed a set of critical […]

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Avizia has helped many health systems explore the ways technology can expand their service offering. Each organization comes to this exercise with their own unique set of priorities. But all must align their investment in technology with their current and future business goals.

To help our partners do this effectively, we’ve developed a set of critical questions. Crystal-clear answers to these questions are required for a successful telehealth implementation:

  • What goals are we trying to achieve?
  • What metrics will we use to measure success?
  • Are we using telehealth to virtualize a practice or virtualize our health system?
  • How can we integrate telehealth in the continuum of patient experience?
  • How can telehealth extend our efforts to manage and coordinate care?

Our partner, HSHS Medical Group, understood how important these questions are to the success of their virtual clinic. Clarity of purpose was an essential first step for our partnership with them; their strategic goals for the virtual clinic shaped the design and operation of the service:

Their goals:

  • Grow their affiliated patient population in Illinois and Wisconsin
  • Meet consumer and corporate buyer needs with an innovative service
  • Educate staff on the inclusion of telemedicine to better meet consumer needs

These goals determined specific design requirements for their virtual clinic and shaped HSHS’s commitment for system-wide adoption.

To grow their patient population, we had to create a virtual care program that included robust support for digital and traditional marketing to generate awareness of and reasons why to use the service, and to optimize the consumer experience to eliminate friction for consumers seeking care. To that end, the virtual clinic was operated entirely under the HSHS Medical Group. Consumers recognize a familiar community institution in the branding, letting them know that this is clinical care they can trust.

To meet consumer and corporate buyer needs, the virtual clinic needed to serve distinct patient populations with experiences configured for their unique needs. HSHS created access for consumers in their service area with a virtual clinic entry point open to the public. HSHS also offered the service to local employers extending virtual care access to their employees as a benefit. This flexible design on the front-end of the virtual clinic serves each populations’ needs while maximizing efficiencies within clinic operations.

Incorporating a new offering to HSHS’s list of services wasn’t complete without educating staff on the importance of the virtual clinic. Through grassroots efforts—lunch and learns, newsletter communications, and collateral—HSHS educated staff on how this new offering could extend their reach and more importantly provide patients with convenient access to its services.

To truly adopt the benefits of the virtual clinic, HSHS decided to offer a virtual clinic program for employees showing them the value of virtual care. This inclusion of telemedicine created employee advocates and helped increase patient utilization by more than 50%.

Learn more about their virtual care program by listening to their recent webinar with Becker’s Hospital Review.

Virtual clinics can support many value propositions for health systems, but achievement of their full impact depends on alignment of the service to your top priorities. Regardless of the avenue a health system takes in executing virtual care into their organization, these strategic questions are vital for methodical planning and strategizing in order to achieve overall success and longevity of a virtual clinic.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[What is Telehealth?]]> https://www.americanwell.com/what-is-telehealth/ 2020-03-17T19:33:44Z 2017-03-30T12:00:00Z Telehealth is a healthcare-delivery method that connects patients with medical providers through everyday communication tools and purpose-built technology solutions. Patients can access medical care wherever they may be (ie. hospital, clinic, work, home, school, etc.) using their phone, computer or specailized devices in their doctor’s office, clinic or hospital. Telehealth is a hardware and software solution […]

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Telehealth is a healthcare-delivery method that connects patients with medical providers through everyday communication tools and purpose-built technology solutions. Patients can access medical care wherever they may be (ie. hospital, clinic, work, home, school, etc.) using their phone, computer or specailized devices in their doctor’s office, clinic or hospital.

Telehealth is a hardware and software solution

Telehealth is a broad field that includes both software and hardware-based medical approaches for urgent, tele-stroke and tele-psych treatment. Other disciplines also include physical therapy, home health, counseling, and consumer education.

Telehealth generally falls under two approaches:

  • Asynchronous. A static messaging service that enables email and text messages to be delivered securely between patients and providers. The patient sends their chief complaint through email or text and the provider then has time to research and prepare a treatment plan for the patient. Or a provider captures information to be reviewed by care teams to prepare a diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • Synchronous. A real-time communications service that enables phone or video conferencing between patients and providers. A patient and provider can connect with a face-to-face without having to be in the same physical location.
    • Scheduled and Unscheduled Communication — Synchronous solutions can provide patients with the option to access a provider at their time of need through unscheduled 24/7 on-demand care. Or, virtual visits can be scheduled on the patient’s terms with the visit time and provider that works best for them.

Avizia’s Anytime Virtual Clinic offers a synchronous software solution to health systems that wish to extend their practice outside the four walls of a hospital or clinic with video and telephone conferencing.

Avizia’s software is white-lableled, ensuring the virtual clinic is a natural extension of the health system’s brand, mission, and service. The goal is to connect consumers to their trusted providers.

The configurable implementation process, which includes clinical and business workflows and design, allows health systems to launch a virtual clinic platform that meets the needs of their unique market in as little as 60 days.

Telehealth is a human solution

Integrated telehealth is not an automated service or a healthcare algorithm. It is technology that enables real-time communication between a patient and a live provider.

  • Prioritizing customer experience. Patients have control of their healthcare with the ability to request care 24/7/365 online or over the phone. Patient concierge staff guide patients through the phone intake process and can re-direct patients to in-person care in the event of an emergency.
  • Flexible staffing. Hybrid clinical staffing allows health-system providers to see patients virtually and enlist support from Avizia-employed providers during after-hours or at peak utilization times.
  • High quality care and integration. Clinical and business workflows, designed by the health system, along with Avizia’s Virtual Practice Guidelines (VPGs) support the entire virtual visit process to effectively treat patients and determine whether a diagnosis can safely be made in a virtual setting. Seamless integration allows the virtual clinic to be securely embedded in a health system’s operations giving providers the ability to push and pull patient data and operate all visits based on a health system’s standards. 

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[How telehealth devices can complement virtual care]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=7025 2020-03-17T19:34:05Z 2017-03-10T15:38:32Z Telehealth devices can be integrated into telehealth technology to better the patient and provider experience.

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In the last few years, many companies have begun to integrate telehealth technology into healthcare devices. These devices, aimed at remote patient monitoring or biometric tracking, can provide physicians with important information and context during a video visit, and allow consumers to use telehealth for many different healthcare needs.

Here are a few notable telehealth devices that have integrated telehealth technology to better the patient and provider experience:

  • Tyto Care: Tyto’s health devices, built for remote patient monitoring, allow patients to conduct in-home medical examinations during a telehealth visit with a physician. These all-in-one devices include a built-in thermometer and camera for taking pictures and videos; stethoscope; otoscope; and tongue depressor attachments for examining the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat.
  • Amwell’s telehealth kiosk: Telehealth kiosks can be used in office, retail and hospital settings to
    help patients access high-quality care while simultaneously reducing healthcare costs. The telehealth kiosks include a variety of peripheral devices such as an otoscope, stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.

  • Apple Health Kit: Patients can share key health metrics such as heart rate and blood pressure, as well as nutrition and fitness information with a doctor through their iPhone device. This information can then be shared with the doctor during a video visit.
  • 19Labs: 19Labs has created a smart first aid kit, which includes medical supplies, interactive first aid guides , phone capabilities (to call family, friends or help), and now, with the implementation of Amwell’s mobile SDK, telehealth. The device, Gale, is perfect for schools, homes and work sites.

Telehealth devices like these directly complement the types of conditions and use cases consumers envision for telehealth. In fact, an Amwell survey found that of those willing to have a doctor visit, 60% would want to use virtual visits to manage a chronic condition. This is extremely important as 1 in 2 U.S adults have a chronic condition such as diabetes or heart disease.[1] Devices like a Tyto device or an iPhone with Apple Health Kit can track a patient’s biometrics and allow for a more informed check-in with their provider via telehealth.

The consumer survey also found that consumers prefer telehealth for its convenience.  Over three quarters of those willing to have a video visit would like to use it for the minor routine need of a prescription refill. Telehealth devices like kiosks, Tyto and 19Labs Gale offer consumers a convenient way to see a physician for these types of needs, while still providing vital clinical information and history.

To read more on consumer perspectives and experiences with telehealth, download the full Telehealth Index: 2017 Consumer Survey here.

[1] Telehealth Primer: Chronic Care Management, The Advisory Board Company, September 2015

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Are you ready to become the hospital of the future?]]> https://www.americanwell.com/are-you-ready-to-become-the-hospital-of-the-future/ 2020-03-17T19:34:21Z 2017-03-08T00:00:00Z Featured In: HIT Leaders and News Written By: Jackie Busch, Vice President of Clinical Services, Avizia Not surprisingly, the hospital of the future will require technology solutions like telehealth to meet growing patient demands for remote access to health information and providers. While technology will ultimately help provide better care, it will undoubtedly change the […]

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Featured In: HIT Leaders and News
Jackie Busch, Vice President of Clinical Services, Avizia

Not surprisingly, the hospital of the future will require technology solutions like telehealth to meet growing patient demands for remote access to health information and providers. While technology will ultimately help provide better care, it will undoubtedly change the day-to-day roles and responsibilities of IT teams, executives, and clinicians.

If hospital executives and providers want to be successful in the changing healthcare climate, they will need to take an interdisciplinary approach to care coordination and internal communication, working across all departments. The hospital of the future won’t be the hospital you grew up going to, but with all the promise technology can bring – improving the patient experience and driving down costs – that might be a good thing. Here is how we see the provider climate evolving and what that means for the day-to-day roles providers will have to play. 

Hospital IT: Driving change

In today’s hospital, IT teams are in charge of driving innovation and making the technology decisions. IT teams are working on the forefront of change, but in some instances, they seem siloed from clinicians, making the implementation of new technology difficult. In Avizia’s “Closing the Telehealth Gap” report, 25 percent of respondents cited clinician resistance as the main barrier to implementing telehealth.

Since the hospital of the future will be driven by new technologies, IT teams will have an important role to play. IT staff will be expected to take on more of a leadership role and will be charged with working alongside clinicians to help them implement new technologies. In the future, expect IT teams to become an integral part of both the leadership and clinical teams. They will not only drive innovation, but help put it into practice. 

Hospital executives: Bridging the divide

As the decision makers for their hospitals, executives have the final say on which technologies are implemented and across which service lines. By focusing on the adoption of enterprise capable clinical solutions, technology can help hospital executives with the challenges they may face in the future, including physician shortages. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, we will face a shortage of up to 90,000 physicians by 2025. To minimize the impact to your organization, you’ll need to look to technologies like telehealth and remote patient monitoring to avoid coverage pitfalls many executives may face. The good news is that many companies now offer end-to-end, scalable coverage and telehealth platforms.

Overall, executives in the hospital of the future will work in a more connected hospital with secure apps and messaging as part of an enterprise-wide care collaboration model. This will enable them to make informed decisions and meet the demands of patient care while improving clinical workflow and clinician engagement.

Future executives can expect to have the ability to check the pulse of their entire hospital with the click of a button.

Clinicians: Becoming the advocate for change

Over the past few years, clinicians have faced a number of changes to their daily jobs, from EHRs to ICD-10 to new technologies like telehealth. Sadly, these changes are beginning to have a negative effect on the physicians’ perception of the workplace. According to a recent report from Geneia, clinician job satisfaction is on the decline, with 78 percent feeling rushed to see patients and two-thirds reporting knowing a clinician with job burnout. With more demands on their time, clinicians are hesitant to implement any new technology that does not easily incorporate into their workflow, are difficult to use, or have limited value add. This resistance can end new technology implementation before it even begins.

To be successful in the hospital of the future clinicians will need to be engaged in a way that encourages advocacy of technology, not resistance. As part of an interdisciplinary team, that includes working closely with a hospital’s IT team to explain the difficulties of using new technologies and working together to find solutions that can seamlessly integrate into their daily work. In the future, technology will be tailored to meet their specific needs, ultimately allowing them to spend more time with patients and less time with paperwork.

In the hospital of the future, technologies like telehealth will no longer be a “nice to have” but will become an integral part of care delivery. Exciting opportunities that will revolutionize care are just on the horizon, but creating a technology-friendly, and focused mindset in your hospital is the first critical step.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Avizia CEO Mike Baird Sees Telemedicine Perched at the Start of a Supernova of Healthcare Innovation]]> https://www.americanwell.com/avizia-ceo-mike-baird-sees-telemedicine-perched-at-the-start-of-a-supernova-of-healthcare-innovation/ 2020-03-30T14:15:17Z 2017-03-08T00:00:00Z Published By: Break Health Podcast Steve Krupa, host of the Breaking Health Podcast, delves deep into Avizia’s history and its approach to developing the right products for hospitals. How does it identify the features providers want, as well as those they may not know they even need? Listen to find out! Avizia was acquired by Amwell […]

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Published By: Break Health Podcast

Steve Krupa, host of the Breaking Health Podcast, delves deep into Avizia’s history and its approach to developing the right products for hospitals.

How does it identify the features providers want, as well as those they may not know they even need? Listen to find out!

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Why I Switched to Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6963 2017-03-30T19:27:53Z 2017-02-15T16:57:12Z Dr. Stephen Matta began his medical journey in 2010 when he started his family medicine residency. An avid sports fan, Dr. Matta then decided to pursue a sports medicine fellowship, and eventually ended up working in an urgent care setting. One day while Dr. Matta was working, the patient he was treating mentioned that she […]

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Dr. Stephen Matta began his medical journey in 2010 when he started his family medicine residency. An avid sports fan, Dr. Matta then decided to pursue a sports medicine fellowship, and eventually ended up working in an urgent care setting.

One day while Dr. Matta was working, the patient he was treating mentioned that she had recently received care from a doctor online. This intrigued Dr. Matta, and he began researching online care and decided to try it out for himself. He soon realized that he found his place in medicine – telehealth.

We recently caught up with Dr. Matta to find out why he adopted telehealth, and what he’s learned from the experience:

What about telehealth interested you the most?

There were two main reasons I was interested in telehealth. One, I am fairly tech savvy and loved the idea of seeing patients online. Second, I have two young children and was looking for a flexible schedule that would allow me to spend more time with my kids. When I learned about telemedicine, I realized this was a way I could see my kids every day and still get to do what I love.

Additionally, in the recent world of medicine, there has been a dire need for a service like telehealth. Telehealth is a unique form of healthcare that can transform the way we receive acute care. There is this misconception that telehealth is trying to replace our already established healthcare practices, but this is not the case. Telemedicine is simply a new dimension of care that can complement existing brick-and-mortar practice.

Was it difficult for you to adjust to seeing patients online?

I love seeing patients in the way that they are looking to be served. I really enjoy being able to care for patients when they most need care. If a patient needs to see a doctor at 8pm on a Saturday night, we are there for them, and other than the ER, no one else does that. Seeing patients via video is not very different from speaking with a patient in person – you’re still face to face, just not in the same room.

Has seeing patients online affected your doctor-patient relationships?

With telehealth, I am spending 90% of my time with patients and that is why most of us got into medicine – to help people. In brick-and-mortar care, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and bogged down with paperwork. Now that I am practicing medicine online, the paperwork is at an all-time low.

Thanks to our follow-up feature, it’s easy to form relationships with patients. It also eliminates the hassle of scheduling a follow-up. We can tell the patient to schedule a follow-up in two weeks and give them our schedule for that week. Then, the patient can log onto the system whenever is best for them– the patient has all of the scheduling power.

How do shifts and scheduling work?

Our scheduling team does a phenomenal job accommodating the doctors’ needs. They want to make the experience just as easy for us as it is for our patients. Shifts get scheduled in four-hour blocks, but you do have some flexibility with scheduling those blocks each week, which is really nice.

Is the technology hard to use?

Speaking to someone through video communications is a part of our daily lives, so I don’t really consider this transition a huge step. The technology itself is very intuitive and easy to use, and everything is in one place. You can see the patient, prescribe medication, and add patient information all from one page.

How does prescribing via telehealth work?

On the platform, you can search for a prescription, enter in in the proper dosage and then electronically and automatically send the script to the patient’s chosen pharmacy.

What was telemedicine training like?

The training made me feel confident in my decision to work in telehealth, and covered everything from how to use the system to best clinical practices for telehealth.  It also allowed me to conduct mock visits so I could get comfortable before treating real patients.

Can you get malpractice coverage?

Amwell covers malpractice, which I think is a game changer. Adding telemedicine to your existing malpractice can be difficult, but getting it through Amwell is easy.

What advice do you have for physicians interested in telehealth?

Get used to talking to people via video. This is perhaps the most important part of the service. If we want your patients to be comfortable on the platform, you need to be confident recommending it. There is no substitute for hands-on experience.

What is your biggest takeaway from practicing telehealth?

I didn’t realize how much traveling was affecting my levels of satisfaction and happiness. When I was working in urgent care, days would go by where I wouldn’t even get to see my kids. Now, I get to spend much more time with my family.

Healthcare is meant to be about the patient, but now we can have it both ways. Telehealth saves time and is convenient for patients, but it’s great for doctors, too.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[50M Americans would switch their PCP to a doctor who offers telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6893 2020-03-16T20:46:46Z 2017-01-23T14:34:45Z Amwell has published a new eBook – the latest in our Telehealth Index Series. We ran a nationally projectable survey with Harris Poll in late 2016 to measure the latest in consumers’ perceptions and experience with telemedicine. The survey, which surveyed over 4,000  individuals, took a close look at consumers’ outlook on telehealth and how […]

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Amwell has published a new eBook – the latest in our Telehealth Index Series. We ran a nationally projectable survey with Harris Poll in late 2016 to measure the latest in consumers’ perceptions and experience with telemedicine.

The survey, which surveyed over 4,000  individuals, took a close look at consumers’ outlook on telehealth and how they want to use telehealth to access healthcare. Our findings exposed important implications for industry players across the board –health systems, health plans, employers and brokers.

To read the eBook in its entirety, click here. Below are some of the highlights:

Consumers are delaying needed care

Today, 67% of consumers say they have delayed seeking care for a health problem. Consumers delay needed care because of high costs, long waits, and busy schedules. Delaying care for serious health concerns can have costly ramifications for the patient and healthcare provider.

Video visits offer a viable solution

Two thirds of Americans are willing to see a doctor over video, a trend that has been increasing in recent years. Not only are consumers willing to see a doctor over video, they believe video results in the most accurate diagnosis by a doctor when offered the following three options – video, telephone and email.

Patients want to see physicians who offer video visits

Consumers now want to see their own primary care physician via telemedicine. Consumers trust their own doctor and want to be able to access them more easily. Importantly, if their current PCP does not offer video visits, 1 in 5 Americans would switch to a PCP that does.

Consumers see many applications for telehealth

Our survey found that consumers want to use telehealth in a multitude of ways. The top applications we found were as follows:

  • Chronic care condition
  • Post-surgical or hospital stay follow-up
  • Middle of the night care
  • Elderly care
  • Prescription refills
  • Birth control

Download the eBook today for all the findings and corresponding market implications.

* Numbers were calculated in the following way: 323M (U.S. Population, U.S. Census Bureau, 2016) x 77% (U.S. Population Age 18+, U.S. Census Bureau, 2016) x 20% (Consumers with a PCP who would switch PCP for video visits, Amwell 2017 Consumer Survey) = 50M

318M (U.S. Population, U.S. Census Bureau, 2014) x 77% (U.S. Population Age 18+, U.S. Census Bureau, 2014) x 7% (Consumers with a PCP who would switch PCP for video visits, Amwell 2015 Consumer Survey) = 17M

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Telemedicine for population health: The future of telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6887 2020-03-30T14:15:37Z 2017-01-19T19:34:37Z As hospitals and health systems move toward a fee-for-value payment structure, the focus of care delivery has shifted drastically from more visits to quality outcomes. Population health has become instrumental in managing patients in risk contracts. Telemedicine solutions are a clear way to address population health management challenges. Advisory Board analyst Peter Kilbridge recently shared […]

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As hospitals and health systems move toward a fee-for-value payment structure, the focus of care delivery has shifted drastically from more visits to quality outcomes. Population health has become instrumental in managing patients in risk contracts. Telemedicine solutions are a clear way to address population health management challenges.

Advisory Board analyst Peter Kilbridge recently shared his thoughts on how provider-to-provider telemedicine use cases are increasing, and highlighted the promise they hold for population health management.  The Advisory Board shared that:

“Telehealth eye exams are popular among diabetic patients, have been shown to be highly effective, and are increasing in use. A Canadian study reported the successful use of image and email-based telemedicine for orthopedic consultation for 1,000 patients for mild-to-moderately severe fractures, saving patients thousands of miles of travel. Other uses include remote eye screening for retinopathy of prematurity, support for pediatric transport, conduct of remote sleep studies, remote support for pediatric asthma, and others.”

By adopting virtual care solutions, providers can manage health outcomes across a population of patients. Here are a few ways that telehealth can help.

1. Increase access to care

Telemedicine allows providers to treat patients in their home, thus reducing unnecessary travel time for patients. Telehealth allows care managers and health coaches to talk to patients about chronic disease management, while promoting in-office visits for high-acuity cases. Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin is expanding its virtual care services and envisions using telemedicine to deliver obesity counseling to at-risk youth, provide support to its diabetic population to monitor blood sugar, and to offer medication counseling. For follow-up appointments, providers can save time by seeing patients virtually. Through a self-scheduling functionality, patients can see a provider at the time of need. This expansion of access is made possible by the convenience of telehealth for patients.

2. Make care more effective

Telehealth connects patients and primary care practitioners to specialists, and offers the opportunity to bridge gaps in care. Specialists can be included in a virtual consult via a Telemed Tablet, or through features such as Multiway video. Nemours, based in Orlando, offers school nurses at special needs schools the ability to connect to pediatricians via the Telemed Tablet. Nurses can always get additional support or a second opinion, and pediatricians can see what’s going on via video and offer guidance or follow-up treatment.

A health system with an on-demand virtual care service can refer a patient who has a video visit to a specialist within their system. When patients have more access points to a health system, the potential for more complete care increases.

3. Engage patients

Engagement is a key benefit of telehealth. NewYork-Presbyterian recently introduced NYP OnDemand, which allows patients to take advantage of video visits for both urgent care and follow-up care directly through it NYP app (using Amwell’s SDK). Its providers can use telehealth for outreach, reminders, and pre-visit planning. Patients can have a routine check-up prior to a procedure, or a standard follow-up appointment after the procedure is complete. Even in a small geographical area like the greater New York area, getting patients to adhere to recommended visits can be a challenge. Telehealth offers a solution that ensures more patients get the care they need.

Interested in learning more about how telemedicine is applied to population health management? Download the Southwest Medical case study to learn how this Las Vegas-based multi-specialty medical group used telehealth to meet the needs of its population.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[‘Dr. G’ will see you now…online]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6862 2017-01-11T19:19:37Z 2017-01-11T19:19:37Z Originally posted on TheSandPaper.net He’s known locally as “Dr. G.” For 30 years, area families depended on Dr. Richard Goldstein for his diligence, medical teaching and commitment to pediatrics. He had a nurturing style with children and a rapport that comforted parents. Last year, at age 77, after having a knee replacement followed by a […]

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Originally posted on TheSandPaper.net

He’s known locally as “Dr. G.” For 30 years, area families depended on Dr. Richard Goldstein for his diligence, medical teaching and commitment to pediatrics. He had a nurturing style with children and a rapport that comforted parents. Last year, at age 77, after having a knee replacement followed by a fractured second cervical vertebra and surgery, he felt it was time to step away from office practice.

“Those last few years I knew that I needed to leave as a full-time pediatrician. But I wanted to keep practicing,” he shared. “I wanted to be able to stay in touch with the local families I had seen for the last 15, 20 or 25 years.”

The timing, it turns out, couldn’t have been better as technology was ripe for “telemedicine.”

Today, wearing his white lab coat by a roaring fire in his living room, he can see kids, or even adults, via video on a smartphone, computer or tablet.

Goldstein is able to practice remotely because he simply has so much experience. Late in his college years at the University of Connecticut, he decided medicine was his calling. It was at the University of Miami med school that he discovered his love for pediatrics. It’s also where he started developing a social awareness that would become a recurring theme in his career.

Read the full article here

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Employee Spotlight]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6852 2020-03-30T14:16:09Z 2017-01-09T14:41:06Z Name: Mike Lemovitz Title: Director, Client Relations Department: Account Management State Date: July 7, 2014 What were you doing before you joined Amwell? Before I came to Amwell, I was working in marketing at Reliant Medical Group, which is a large, multi-specialty group practice out in Central Massachusetts.  I handled much of their social media […]

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Name: Mike Lemovitz

Title: Director, Client Relations

Department: Account Management

State Date: July 7, 2014

What were you doing before you joined Amwell?

Before I came to Amwell, I was working in marketing at Reliant Medical Group, which is a large, multi-specialty group practice out in Central Massachusetts.  I handled much of their social media marketing, photography, video production, and website.  Over the course of my three years there, I became much more focused on reaching existing patients and helping them utilize Reliant’s services as efficiently as possible.  As I learned more about the underlying purpose of those communications, I became very interested in healthcare innovation.

What attracted you to Amwell?

With this new interest in healthcare innovation, I found myself wanting to find a smaller, higher-tech company where I could work with a variety of different health systems and help them on their “innovation journey.”  I saw a Health System Marketing Manager position available at Amwell and threw my hat in the ring.  A month later, I found myself helping develop communications for organizations like Cleveland Clinic, Carolinas HealthCare System, and others.

What other positions have you held here? Tell us a little bit about your Amwell journey.

As I mentioned, I started at Amwell as a Health System Marketing Manager.  I held that position for about 15 months, and really enjoyed it.  It wasn’t long after starting, though, that I found myself dialed in on more of the overall telehealth strategy versus solely marketing and communications.  When a position as Director, Health System Solutions was posted, I knew that it was a great position to really help clients succeed.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Being a part of an organization that is growing as quickly as Amwell means that family time is precious, so most of my time away from work is spent with my wife, or my two (soon to be three) daughters.  You might also find me playing guitar, riding motorcycles with my dad, or flying around Massachusetts in the Piper Cherokee I share with some friends.  Of course, I’m always up for hanging out on the couch with my girls and my dog, Walter, and taking in some Frasier re-runs, House of Cards, or whatever else we find on Netflix.

What are your thoughts on the ways healthcare is changing and what we can expect to see in the future?

For such a historically slow-moving industry, I’m excited by the commitment many of our clients have to constant forward progress.  Most of what holds many organizations back from being extremely innovative, in my opinion, is the need to “keep the lights on” within the boundaries of their existing business models.  Fortunately, improving technology, increasing payer support, reimbursement mandates, and growing consumer awareness of telehealth is pointing the industry in the right direction.  I strongly believe that these factors will lead us to a place where all interactions with the healthcare system will be far more convenient for patients and providers alike in the long term.

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Bridget Kelly <![CDATA[Amwell partners recognized as “top” healthcare leaders]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6824 2020-03-13T14:07:40Z 2016-12-19T15:26:45Z This year marks the eighth year that Gartner has come out with its ranking of supply chain leaders in healthcare. Its “Top 25 list” recognizes companies that have demonstrated leadership in developing and leveraging supply chain capabilities. Amwell is proud to say that three of our clients, Intermountain Healthcare, CVS Health, Cleveland Clinic, have been […]

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This year marks the eighth year that Gartner has come out with its ranking of supply chain leaders in healthcare. Its “Top 25 list” recognizes companies that have demonstrated leadership in developing and leveraging supply chain capabilities.

Amwell is proud to say that three of our clients, Intermountain Healthcare, CVS Health, Cleveland Clinic, have been recognized for their outstanding work in improving life at sustainable costs. These three renowned organizations were recognized with other great institutions like Ochsner Health System, Ascension Health System, Johnson & Johnson and more.

Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, took the top spot this year—up from third place in 2014 and 2015—while Cleveland Clinic, based in Cleveland, OH, rounded out the top 10.  As Gartner stated, “Intermountain Healthcare’s journey to the top is the culmination of strategy, talent and capital coming together in a sustained effort to transform its supply chain.”  Amwell has been lucky enough to see first-hand how these innovative health systems  have aligned key stakeholders and defined value for their patients and optimized the patient experience—through telehealth offerings and beyond.

Below is the full Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 list for 2016:

  1. Intermountain Healthcare
  2. Cardinal Health
  3. Mayo Foundation
  4. Mercy
  5. McKesson
  6. Owens & Minor
  7. CVS Health
  8. Johnson & Johnson
  9. AmerisourceBergen
  10. Cleveland Clinic
  11. Walgreens Boots Alliance
  12. Banner Health
  13. Medtronic
  14. Ascension Health
  15. Ochsner Health System
  16. BD
  17. Novartis
  18. Pfizer
  19. Advocate Health Care
  20. Amgen
  21. BJC HealthCare
  22. Henry Schein
  23. Duke University Health System
  24. Roche
  25. Abbott

We are proud to partner with these pioneering healthcare organizations, and look forward to transform healthcare together in 2017.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Bringing Physical Exams to Telehealth Visits]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6804 2020-03-30T14:06:35Z 2016-12-14T14:24:51Z American Well recently announced an exciting new partnership with Tyto Care, a telehealth company with breakthrough technology for conducting remote medical visits and examinations. Through this new partnership, patients are now able to use TytoCare’s examination device and telehealth solution during video visits, allowing providers to deliver more robust care to the home.

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Amwell recently announced an exciting new partnership with Tyto Care, a telehealth company with breakthrough technology for conducting remote medical visits and examinations. Through this new partnership, patients are now able to use TytoCare’s examination device and telehealth solution during video visits, allowing providers to deliver more robust care to the home. While an effective telehealth exam can certainly be done via video alone, this Tyto Care, Amwell partnership takes telehealth a step further by giving the physician the full picture.

tyto_in_hand_small

 

Great Care, Anywhere

Amwell’s telehealth technology offers high quality care to patients at home or in other locations. Tyto further enhances that level of care by enabling patients to capture physical exam data to supplement telehealth in many remote settings including the home, school, employer work sites and nursing homes.

TytoCare is an all-in-one telehealth solution that has a built-in thermometer and camera for taking pictures and video, and stethoscope, otoscope, and tongue depressor attachments for examining the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, nose and throat.  Exams using TytoCare can be performed before or during a video visit. To conduct exams in real-time, a provider can use the “Live Telehealth Exam” feature, where he or she connects with the patient via video and remotely connects to the patient’s Tyto device to conduct exams. Patients can also use the “Exam and Forward” option, where they capture exam data and send it to the physician for review prior to the video visit or for a later diagnosis.

Treating Acute Illnesses

Patients can be treated and diagnosed for acute medical illnesses from the comfort of their own homes using Amwell video visits and Tyto:

Upper respiratory infection or bronchitis: Using the Tyto stethoscope attachment, a patient can take clinical-quality auscultations of his or her lungs, and the physician can review the data and diagnose the condition via telehealth with the same confidence as an in-person visit.

Sinus infection: The patient can conduct a physical exam on themselves using the Tyto otoscope attachment to provide images of the inside of the ears and the thermometer to check for a fever. The physician can then analyze the results and confirm if the patient has a sinus infection.

Flu: The Flu can produce a lot of symptoms. TytoCare can help better detect these symptoms for the physician during the video visit. The Tyto stethoscope is used to listen to the heart and lungs, the thermometer to check for a fever, and the camera and tongue depressor to take a look at the throat.

Sore Throat: A sore throat is a common symptom for a myriad of illnesses. Having the patient use the Tyto tongue depressor and camera to capture images of the throat will help physicians better diagnose the issue. The thermometer can also be used to check for a fever.

motherchild-throat-exam_small

Ear Infection: Using the Tyto otoscope attachment, physicians can examine the ear canal and drum remotely over video. The thermometer can be used to check for a fever, and the physician may choose to use the stethoscope to look for other co-conditions.

Other common acute care illnesses that can be treated using TytoCare include fever, cough, contact dermatitis, wound care, skin eczema, pneumonia, whooping cough, pink eye and more.

Monitoring Chronic Conditions

Chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can benefit from TytoCare by allowing a physician to monitor these conditions remotely. Tyto can also be used for post-discharge patients. For example, a post-surgical follow up patient could use the Tyto camera to have the physician exam a wound remotely.

Guiding Patients on Remote Physical Exams

While the average patient has some experience using devices like a thermometer, other devices such as an otoscope or stethoscope require some guidance.  TytoCare has built-in guidance technology that enables anyone to accurately and easily capture exam data, so patients and physicians can always be confident that data captured by Tyto is accurate and reliable. For example, when conducting a lung or heart exam with the Tyto stethoscope attachment, TytoCare’s guidance technology will instruct the patient on where to place the stethoscope, accurately record clinical-quality heart and lung sounds, and let the patient know when the exam is complete.  Alternatively, physicians can also remotely access Tyto and help guide patients when conducting a Live Video Telehealth Exam.

With the combination of Amwell’s quality telehealth service and TytoCare’s intuitive examination technology, physically examining patients via telehealth has never been easier. If you’d like even more information on this exciting partnership, contact our team today.

 

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Amanda Guisbond <![CDATA[Why Boston? An Interview with Amwell Co-Founder Dr. Ido Schoenberg]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6794 2020-03-13T14:59:25Z 2016-12-08T14:36:48Z If you’ve heard of Amwell, you know we are a Boston-based digital health company and a leader in the telehealth space. However, many may not realize that our American-born company was founded by two Israeli brothers who still maintain close ties with the Israeli innovation community. Massachusetts has long been a draw for Israeli companies […]

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If you’ve heard of Amwell, you know we are a Boston-based digital health company and a leader in the telehealth space. However, many may not realize that our American-born company was founded by two Israeli brothers who still maintain close ties with the Israeli innovation community.

Massachusetts has long been a draw for Israeli companies looking to expand operations in the U.S. and recently, there is even greater interest from Israeli-led healthcare and technology firms in moving to the state. As such we sat down with Dr. Ido Schoenberg, our co-founder and chairman, to find out more about what drew him and his brother to establish Amwell’s headquarters in Boston.

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Q: In just a few words – why Boston as the corporate headquarters for Amwell?

Ido: Boston is in many ways the healthcare capital of America. We have a lot of healthcare companies, fantastic hospitals and health systems, pharmaceutical companies, and amazing healthcare talent through the local universities. It’s a wonderful place for a healthcare technology company to build a business, find partners and recruit the best people.

Q: That’s a great summary from a business-making perspective. On a personal level – what about Boston made you want to live here?

Ido: I really like Boston. It reminds me in many ways of Europe, in that it’s understated and refined. People here are very accomplished, but are more modest about their accomplishments. As for lifestyle – it’s a great place to be. We have an amazing education system, for one. In terms of a U.S. location, we have family back in Israel and prefer to be closer to home. The West Coast is not an option in that respect. The weather could be better, though [laughs].

Q: Amwell has been around for 10 years, and you’ve lived in Boston about 20 years. Looking back, how would you describe your original impression of Boston versus now?

Ido: I’m very happy we made the choice to set up shop in Boston. Over time, we’ve developed a lot of personal and professional relationships that have made us very successful. It’s the benefits of working in a cosmopolitan city combined with the feeling of knowing people – I go to restaurants where I know the chefs, I can walk into a local conference or event and recognize many faces. It’s a big impact town but it feels like a small town, too, which I like.

Q: That’s very true about Boston – all the perks of a city, without the anonymity. As a business leader, recruiting the right people must be top of mind for long-term growth and success. How do you see Boston as a great place for finding talent?

Ido: Absolutely, you want to establish your corporate headquarters in a location where you can recruit and retain the best people. Through the universities and healthcare organizations already established in Massachusetts, we have access to many talented, new and seasoned professionals. There is a domino effect that occurs when you are in close proximity to other star companies. As we see more, promising healthcare technology companies emerge in Massachusetts, we will become a more attractive place for employees to live and work. Leaders like Amwell, athenahealth, Optum, Vertex, IBM, and now newcomers like General Electric, will help continue to position Boston as a great place to find work.

Q: Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs looking to move or expand operations to Massachusetts?

Ido: If you’re a serious company looking to succeed in healthcare or technology, and you want access to the best talent, strategic partners, and the support of an innovation-friendly local government, then Boston can’t be beat.

 

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Health systems lining up to offer telehealth options]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6763 2020-03-30T14:16:46Z 2016-12-02T15:57:59Z Early last month, New York Presbyterian signed a deal with Amwell to integrate online doctor visits with the health system’s NYP OnDemand digital health platform. Powered by Amwell’s software development kit, patients can access physicians within the NYP network and have a virtual interaction. “It was really important to us to offer our patients a […]

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devices_0001_provider-uai-2064x1357Early last month, New York Presbyterian signed a deal with Amwell to integrate online doctor visits with the health system’s NYP OnDemand digital health platform. Powered by Amwell’s software development kit, patients can access physicians within the NYP network and have a virtual interaction.

“It was really important to us to offer our patients a single digital storefront where they could access all of our services,” Peter Fleischut, CEO at NYP, told MobiHealthNews. “Whether it is finding their way to or hospitals or finding their physicians for a follow up virtual visit, we want them to have all their resources available in one place.”

The partnership is a sign of the growing trend toward telehealth services at health systems across the country. According to Danielle Russella, president of client solutions at Amwell, the Boston-based company’s health system business has gone from three to four systems several years ago to more than 50 today, and includes Massachusetts General Hospital, Cleveland Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare.

Read the article in its entirely on Healthcare Dive

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Steps to Telehealth Success – Organizational Readiness]]> https://www.americanwell.com/steps-to-telehealth-success-organizational-readiness/ 2020-03-30T14:17:24Z 2016-12-01T00:00:00Z Steps to Telehealth Success Organizational Readiness By: Albert Ferreira A day does not pass where a healthcare provider, a technology vendor or a media outlet shares a heartwarming story that demonstrates the impact telehealth has on patient care. That was not always the case… Not long ago, advocates were on the front lines promoting the value […]

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Steps to Telehealth Success

Organizational Readiness

By: Albert Ferreira

A day does not pass where a healthcare provider, a technology vendor or a media outlet shares a heartwarming story that demonstrates the impact telehealth has on patient care. That was not always the case…

Not long ago, advocates were on the front lines promoting the value and benefits of telehealth to healthcare stakeholders. Naysayers and skeptics had their doubts and concerns about what role telehealth would play and how it would enhance patient care.

JEDMED Horus Scope for TelemedicineOver time, telehealth evolved and its presence increased. As a result, many provider organizations began their telehealth journey with pilot projects. Those pilots eventually grew into full-scale programs supporting patient care across multiple service areas. Around the world, traditional barriers were overcome, reimbursement policies were updated, technology capabilities advanced and new clinical use cases were identified.

So, the question now becomes… Where do we go from here?

Telehealth has reached the next phase in its evolution. The industry has graduated from the “Make the Business Case” phase to the “Show me the ROI” phase. With that, industry leaders, experts and supporters have the responsibility of pushing telehealth to greater heights in this next phase.

Over the next 12 to 24 months, we expect telehealth to evolve and adapt to the rapidly changing requirements of healthcare delivery. Keep an eye on consumer health. As individuals play an increasingly active role in their care, the future model of healthcare will offer consumers more convenient access to care, and increased means to communicate with providers. To be the preferred choice of consumers, healthcare organizations need to adjust to future market demands and integrate telehealth into their care offerings.

Telehealth Organizational ReadinessSuccess Step 1: Organizational Readiness

How does a healthcare system prepare their environment for telehealth? Organizational readiness is an important first step in the process.

Many organizations undervalue this phase and do not adequately prepare to integrate telehealth services into their care delivery processes. This is where many telehealth programs get off track and lose the support of key stakeholders.

Getting off to the wrong start is difficult for telehealth programs to recover from. To ensure program success, invest the required time and resources to prepare the organization for telehealth services and gain the buy-in from the key stakeholders and clinical champions.

Preparing for Telehealth

  • Leadership willingness and commitment
  • Clinician readiness and buy-in
  • Program staffing and resources
  • Process changes and training
  • Creating a sustainable and scalable program

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[Telehealth that’s Award-Winning – and Just the Beginning]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6752 2020-03-30T14:17:43Z 2016-11-23T17:42:47Z This past Monday, industry analyst Frost & Sullivan honored Amwell with the 2016 Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Award for our enterprise service, the Exchange. A firm known for its thorough analyses of healthcare advances, Frost & Sullivan took note when Amwell unveiled the Exchange in May 2016 and, after further review, designated it […]

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This past Monday, industry analyst Frost & Sullivan honored Amwell with the 2016 Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Award for our enterprise service, the Exchange. A firm known for its thorough analyses of healthcare advances, Frost & Sullivan took note when Amwell unveiled the Exchange in May 2016 and, after further review, designated it a leading industry innovation. To quote Principal Analyst Victor Camlek, who co-authored the report:

“The Exchange combines an outstanding mix of high-quality technology, numerous healthcare providers, and innovative thinking to stoke wider acceptance of telehealth as a mainstream medical service delivery channel.”

At Amwell, we are constantly looking to innovate at the edge of our industry, to meet the challenges of our trusted partners, their providers and patients, and continue to deliver on our aim of making care more accessible and more connected. As a culture, we also don’t just stop when a goal is achieved. Rather, we quickly move on to determine our next goal and carefully plot how we’ll achieve it.

The Exchange is a great example of our culture of relentless innovation. The Exchange requires advanced technologies and capabilities, professional services and legal support, marketing expertise, and the shared vision of our clients – health systems, health plans and employers – in seeing the value of the Exchange now and in the future. Getting the Exchange up and running this past May with the first named partners – Cleveland Clinic, LiveHealth Online and Nemours Children’s Health System – was one, significant achievement. Garnering national visibility for the Exchange and being awarded “Production Innovation of the Year” is another great achievement.

But we are already onto our next and far more ambitious goal with the Exchange – adding every major health system and health plan partner to it, and slowly, opening up a vast provider network to the whole world.

We’re excited for what’s to come and we are humbled by the validation of our industry peers in selecting the Exchange as a telehealth Product Innovation of the Year.

For more on why Frost & Sullivan calls the Exchange a “revolutionary network with tremendous potential to supply extended medical treatment,” you can access the full report here.

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Bridget Kelly <![CDATA[Reimagining the Hospital]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6729 2020-03-30T14:17:57Z 2016-11-14T19:56:25Z Hospitals in the future will certainly include telemedicine, where telecommunications technology can help diagnose and treat patients remotely in the comfort of their own homes, according to a panel of medical experts on Wednesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego. Dr. Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of Amwell, a company that provides telemedicine technology to […]

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Hospitals in the future will certainly include telemedicine, where telecommunications technology can help diagnose and treat patients remotely in the comfort of their own homes, according to a panel of medical experts on Wednesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego.

Dr. Ido Schoenberg, chairman and CEO of Amwell, a company that provides telemedicine technology to health care companies, said that it doesn’t make sense to provide virtual care without in-person physical care. “It’s how to make care teams fully centric,” he explained.

Telemedicine, which is expected to be worth more than $34 billion globally by the end of 2020, is still very much in its early days, he added. “Right now 2% of health care is done online. In the future, it will be 20% to 30% of care,” Dr. Schoenberg added.

Read the article on Fortune.com or watch the full session here.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[What can you learn from the early adopters of telehealth?]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6689 2020-03-30T14:18:14Z 2016-11-03T14:19:29Z Advisory Board, a consulting best practices firm, recently interviewed several health systems who are at the forefront of
telehealth adoption to gain insights on telehealth adoption, acceptance and use cases. Here’s what they found:

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The Advisory Board Company, a consulting best practices firm, recently interviewed several health systems who are at the forefront of telehealth adoption to gain insights on telehealth adoption, acceptance and use cases.

Here’s what they found:

Views on Telehealth

There are essentially two camps of telehealth adopters: vision adopters and business case adopters. These two groups are primarily separated by differing expectations regarding the return on investment and alignment to corporate strategy.

Vision Adopters

Attribute

Business Case Adopters

Organization-wide recognition that DTC telehealth plays a vital role in the changing reimbursement landscape and growing role of consumerism in healthcare.

Alignment to Strategy

Believe that telehealth provides a competitive advantage for one or more key departments.
Greater focus on strategic benefits in access, quality and patient experience versus immediate financial return.

ROI Approach

Require a positive direct financial return or a clear path to in-direct financial return.
Focus on provider innovation for the next set of use cases and a willingness to experiment with simultaneous use cases.

Rollout Strategy

Focus on use cases that are expected to provide a positive return on investment in the short- or medium-term.

Both types of organizations are in agreement in how they view the potential of telehealth.  These leaders:

  • Utilize DTC telehealth as an enabler of strategy, not a strategy itself
  • Innovate across multiple use cases to maximize their investment
  • Place significant emphasis on education to both consumers & providers

Current Use Cases

Across the board, early adopters are using their telehealth platforms to launch urgent care visits to start, but they’re not relying on DTC telehealth solely for urgent care issues. As they launch an urgent care service, these organizations are envisioning their next set of applications in such areas as:

  • Post-surgical follow-up appointments: Orthopedics, neurosurgery, general surgery, cardiac surgery
  • Specialty video consultations: Neurology, autism screening, sleep, orthopedics, heart and vascular, head and neck
  • Virtual clinics: Catering to targeted patient populations in behavioral health, rheumatology, nutrition, lactation support, and pediatrics

Expected Benefits

Regarding their expected returns, early adopters anticipate both financial & strategic benefits:

abimg

Promotion & Education

A key insight that emerges from these telehealth pioneers is their deliberate and extensive efforts to promote telehealth both internally to their providers and staff, as well as externally to consumers.

For consumers, health systems use multiple channels to drive adoption:

  • Owned and earned media
  • Digital
  • Paid targeted ads
  • Reward incentives
  • Provider-led introductions to their patients

For providers and staff, efforts focus on building provider acceptance to drive innovation and scale:

  • Early clinical engagement in decision-making and operational rollout to gain buy-in
  • Inclusion of physicians and staff to design workflows and clinical protocols
  • Involvement of executive and clinical leadership to communicate telehealth goals and encourage education & training

These insights provide health systems with a glimpse into telehealth utilization by early adopters.  As telehealth continues to evolve, we can expect these industry pioneers to set more standards for future innovation and growth.

Interested in learning more about adopting telehealth? Check out our webinar with The Advisory Board on Unlocking the value of Direct-to-consumer telehealth.

Note: The Advisory Board Company is a partner of Amwell.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Watch the Webex: Navigating new types of risk in healthcare]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6551 2020-03-30T14:18:23Z 2016-10-18T14:22:51Z As new players enter the healthcare industry with innovative delivery models, health systems are challenged to navigate new types of risk. Dr. Jeff Kosowsky, SVP of Corporate Development for Amwell, recently discussed the challenges required to succeed in this new type of healthcare industry during a web event hosted by The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Catalyst. To learn about how […]

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As new players enter the healthcare industry with innovative delivery models, health systems are challenged to navigate new types of risk. Dr. Jeff Kosowsky, SVP of Corporate Development for Amwell, recently discussed the challenges required to succeed in this new type of healthcare industry during a web event hosted by The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) Catalyst.

To learn about how health systems are thriving and succeeding in this era of greater risk, watch Dr. Kosowsky’s session: New Entrants–Breaking in is hard to do.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Case Study: Southwest Medical’s winning strategy for telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6546 2020-03-30T14:18:37Z 2016-10-17T15:02:48Z In 2014, Southwest Medical Associates, one of Nevada’s largest multi-specialty medical groups, partnered with Amwell to launch its telehealth service, SMA NowClinic.   In the newly released case study, we reveal how Southwest Medical enrolled more than 30,000 patients in its program and conducted more than 20,000 telehealth visits.  You can read the case study in its entirety here, but here […]

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In 2014, Southwest Medical Associates, one of Nevada’s largest multi-specialty medical groups, partnered with Amwell to launch its telehealth service, SMA NowClinic.   In the newly released case study, we reveal how Southwest Medical enrolled more than 30,000 patients in its program and conducted more than 20,000 telehealth visits. sma1

You can read the case study in its entirety here, but here are some of the highlights.

About Southwest Medical

Southwest Medical offers primary care, specialty care and urgent care, in addition to a variety of specialized, focused programs. The organization is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group and Optum and includes a mix of different payers.

Goals for SMA NowClinic

Southwest Medical set out to achieve four broad goals with its telemedicine initiatives:

  1. Improve the patient experience
  2. Improve population health
  3. Reduce per capita costs
  4. Improve the provider experience

Training and staffing physicians

Southwest Medical launched a pilot program in October 2013 to prepare providers for all possible scenarios. This was especially important because the organization put a big focus on provider engagement, training and staffing for NowClinic.

The physician training program consisted of a profile setup, system overview, self-study modules, a system demonstration, mock visits and coaching, workstation testing and activation. This plan allowed the team to ensure that all providers were set up and felt confident about delivering telemedicine to patients.

Launching NowClinic

After the 3-month initial pilot program, SMA launched NowClinic to 3,000 Nevada UnitedHealth employees, who were all eligible for visits with no co-pays. This second pilot period served to stress test the system and gather employee comments and feedback for enhancing the program.

After six months of the pilot plus an additional soft launch, the team began an integrated marketing campaign, designed to drive visits to the system. The marketing plan consisted of online marketing tactics such as email announcements, web portal highlights and links, and Facebook. The plan also included tactics like health plan newsletters and signage such as posters, danglers, floor decals and brochures to drive awareness of the new service. Finally, in-clinic navigators directed patients to the new service, NowClinic.

sma2

Results of the launch

In the first year, Southwest Medical completed over 5,000 visits, with nearly 18,500 enrollments – 6% of the population enrolled in this initial launch stage.  As of mid-2016, Southwest Medical had completed over 33,000 enrollments, with over 20,000 visits.

The team met its initial goal of answering visits in less than 10 minutes, as the average speed to answer was 4 minutes and 23 seconds.

sma3

Future plans for NowClinic

Southwest Medical has plans to expand its urgent care offering to launch new services. In 2016, the team launched behavioral health and rheumatology, and is currently training doctors for telehealth in these areas.

For more on how Southwest Medical planned, built and executed an industry-leading telehealth service, read the newly released case study.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Q&A: How Telehealth Is Just Getting Started]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6521 2020-03-30T14:18:48Z 2016-10-07T16:47:06Z For all the hype about telehealth in recent years, it still constitutes less than 1% of ambulatory visits in the United States, notes Jeffrey Kosowsky, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Business Development at Amwell. But with changes in regulation, new technologies, and increasing consumer and provider acceptance, telehealth is poised to […]

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For all the hype about telehealth in recent years, it still constitutes less than 1% of ambulatory visits in the United States, notes Jeffrey Kosowsky, MD, PhD, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Business Development at Amwell. But with changes in regulation, new technologies, and increasing consumer and provider acceptance, telehealth is poised to expand. Its real promise is in returning healthcare to the home, which in turn can lower overall costs of care dramatically. Catalyst Editorial Director Edward Prewitt talked with Kosowsky to discuss keys to success, how to scale, and how entrants in healthcare can thrive.

Edward Prewitt: What drivers in the healthcare marketplace are creating needs and opportunities for new players?

Jeffrey Kosowsky: There are five general drivers in the broader marketplace…and all affect telehealth. The first is the looming non-viability of the payment model. … For telehealth, the first adopters were payers, then employers, because telehealth visits head-to-head are cheaper.

The second driver is new technologies enabling new workflows. … You could say that telehealth existed as far back as Morse code, but it didn’t enter into viability until real-time video…and mobile broadband.

The third driver is new modalities for healthcare. ….  Read the Q&A in its entirety here

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[If Not Parity, Clarity – Getting Doctors Paid For Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6503 2020-03-30T14:19:05Z 2016-09-23T16:54:45Z By Kofi Jones, Vice President of Government Affairs, Amwell This article originally appeared on Forbes.com In the world of telehealth, we are well beyond the time when physicians worry whether they are within their clinical rights to provide care through technology. Whether through action by state medical boards or acts of state legislature, nearly every […]

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By Kofi Jones, Vice President of Government Affairs, Amwell

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

In the world of telehealth, we are well beyond the time when physicians worry whether they are within their clinical rights to provide care through technology. Whether through action by state medical boards or acts of state legislature, nearly every state has upheld that the standard of care for physicians when provided through these technologies should be equivalent to care provided in brick and mortar environments. Come January, these doctors will have an even easier time projecting this care throughout the nation when the Federation of State Medical Boards Interstate Licensure Compact is set to be fully operational – making it easier to secure multi-state licensure.

These accomplishments are not insignificant. They create a vital infrastructure for telehealth to do its job – make care more accessible, timely and cost effective. But there’s a fundamental question left unanswered that will diminish the number of providers who elect to embrace telehealth and say “yes” to increasing the amount of care available to our nation’s sick.

“Will I be paid?”

Read the full article on Forbes.com

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Telemental Health Gets Its Moment]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6485 2020-03-30T14:19:19Z 2016-09-15T19:06:10Z The impact of behavioral health is finally getting its moment in the sun. As the shades of stigma are slowly lifted, people are beginning to speak about mental health and substance use disorders. A study published in February 2015 by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry noted that depression is the leading cause of disability for U.S. […]

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1688x510_therapysessiononcouchThe impact of behavioral health is finally getting its moment in the sun. As the shades of stigma are slowly lifted, people are beginning to speak about mental health and substance use disorders.

A study published in February 2015 by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry noted that depression is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults ages 15-44 and results in nearly 400 million disability days per year. These statistics indicate that unmet behavioral health needs have a significant impact on our daily lives.

Telehealth for behavioral health is sometimes referred to tele-mental health, tele-psychiatry, tele-behavioral health or tele-therapy. It allows immediate, convenient access to care, alleviating the overwhelming feelings that often accompany patients dealing with a behavioral health issue by stripping away the stigma of an in-person visit.

For patients – tele-therapy is provided by high-quality, licensed clinicians, with the opportunity for specialized and multidisciplinary care. Not only is it more affordable than brick and mortar therapy, increasingly it is covered by major insurers. The easy access to multiple providers reduces the uncertainty and confusion frequently experienced when searching for a therapist, and eliminates the frustration associated with finding therapists who are not accepting new patients.

Telehealth addresses longstanding problems faced by consumers of behavioral health treatment. For example, finding a therapist outside of business hours, when most working adults want an appointment, is very challenging. Through telehealth, employees can access therapists after work from the comfort of their own homes, via a scheduled or on-demand visit. For those individuals who still feel a stigma attached to therapy, telehealth provides a more private solution. Telehealth has also been shown to decrease the cost of healthcare through reduced traveling costs, improved management of chronic disease, and shorter hospital stays and visits.

Telehealth can also provide treatment for the following:

  • Anorexia/Bulimia
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Substance Abuse
  • And more

Amwell now offers online psychiatrists, in addition to psychologists and behavioral health therapists. Patients can log onto the Amwell app to find a psychiatrist that’s right for them, self-schedule appointments and experience our suite of coordinated care services.

As employers, patients, health plans and hospitals experience the positive impact of greater availability of mental health services, telehealth as a solution will continue to expand and treat more patients.

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[The Stars Have Aligned For Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6455 2020-03-30T14:07:12Z 2016-09-13T16:22:49Z American Well’s CEO Roy Schoenberg recently shared the perspective with HealthcareITNews that the stars are finally aligning for telehealth. “Telehealth increasingly has become one of the ways physicians interact with patients,” said Schoenberg. We’ve witnessed this firsthand during some of our recent client telehealth launches. American Well proudly supports the strategies of our clients, all of whom launch telehealth with the common goal of expanding care to patients in need. Here are just a few recent client launches that have recently expanded access to quality healthcare

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Amwell’s CEO Roy Schoenberg recently shared the perspective with HealthcareITNews that the stars are finally aligning for telehealth. “Telehealth increasingly has become one of the ways physicians interact with patients,” said Schoenberg.

We’ve witnessed this firsthand during some of our recent client telehealth launches. Amwell proudly supports the strategies of our clients, all of whom launch telehealth with the common goal of expanding care and access to patients.

Here are just a few recent client launches that have recently expanded access to quality healthcare:

Baptist Health South Florida

Baptist Health South Florida launched Care On Demand to its more than 1 million annual patients. Baptist Health is an innovator in the healthcare space – in 2016, the organization was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the highest performing healthcare organization in South Florida and as one of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in America.

Emergency Medicine Physician David Mishkin, MD, is leading the effort as medical director for Care On Demand. “This new platform provides patients with a new option that complements traditional healthcare,” said Dr. Mishkin. “It expands access to quality care, allowing you to conveniently communicate with a doctor through an interactive live video and audio chat to discuss treatment and ask questions.”

BayCare

BayCare, a leading not-for-profit healthcare system in the Tampa Bay and central Florida region, launched BayCare Anywhere as a complement to its 14 hospitals, 10 urgent care centers, hundreds of ambulatory/office locations, and inpatient and outpatient services that include acute care, primary care, imaging, laboratory, behavioral health, home care, and wellness.

Northern Arizona Healthcare

Northern Arizona Healthcare recently launched Be Well Now. Northern Arizona Healthcare is the largest healthcare organization in a region that encompasses more than 50,000 square miles. Their team of more than 3,000 doctors, nurses and other experts work to serve more than 700,000 people across the area.

Academic HealthPlans

Academic HealthPlans is a leading student health insurance provider, and is now making video doctor and behavioral health visits available to students at more than 100 colleges and universities. Many college students find themselves stressed, homesick, or overworked, and may benefit from psychology and behavioral health services. Telehealth provides a quick and easy way for students to receive the support they need.

Value Drug Company

Value Drug Company, a Pennsylvania-based wholesale distributor, has partnered with Amwell to provide telemedicine services 24/7/365 to more than 600 independent pharmacies and their customers. The partnership allows patients in rural and underserved areas to access medical care, behavioral health therapy and nutrition and diet support by using the Value Health Center platform or by visiting a Value Health Center kiosk inside a participating pharmacy.

The use cases for video visits continue to expand with each client launch, and range from post-surgical follow up to chronic care and readmissions management. Thanks to our clients, high quality healthcare is being delivered to more and more new patients. The stars are truly beginning to align.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Employee Spotlight]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6442 2020-03-30T14:19:59Z 2016-09-06T17:21:11Z Name: Dave Tran Title: Manager, Mobile SDK Department: Engineering Start Date: October 28, 2013 “In some form or fashion, everyone wants to leave their legacy on the world. Amwell is making a difference in people’s lives by improving telehealth and I can’t think of a better way of leaving my legacy than by helping make healthcare more accessible and […]

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Name: Dave Tran

Title: Manager, Mobile SDK

Department: Engineering

Start Date: October 28, 2013

Dave Tran

“In some form or fashion, everyone wants to leave their legacy on the world. Amwell is making a difference in people’s lives by improving telehealth and I can’t think of a better way of leaving my legacy than by helping make healthcare more accessible and more affordable to everyone.”

What attracted you to Amwell?

My career has always been focused on making a positive difference in the lives of others and to take on new challenges. After spending seven years in the aerospace and defense industry where my work supported the U.S. military, I wanted to shift my focus toward helping other people in need. After a stint at another healthcare technology company, I came across Amwell and it was a perfect fit. Amwell gives me the opportunity to work on a product that has a direct impact on the consumer and challenges me to grow my technical skills in the mobile space.

What were you doing before you came onboard?

I worked at PatientKeeper, a healthcare technology company, where I was one of two Software Engineers responsible for architecting a next-generation solution that allowed physicians access to patient data using a web portal or mobile device. During my time at PatientKeeper, I became very familiar with business terms and concepts in the healthcare space, which helped make the transition from integrated defense systems at Raytheon, to telehealth visits at Amwell that much easier.

What does a day in the life of a Mobile SDK Manager at Amwell look like?

The Mobile SDK allows our clients to take the Amwell telehealth experience and seamlessly embed it within an existing mobile application. As the manager of this product, my time is spread across two main responsibilities. First, I manage the Mobile SDK development efforts. I work with my team to design, integrate, test, and deliver new features to maintain parity with the Amwell telehealth platform. Second, I help our clients explore and incorporate the features of the mobile SDK into their iOS and Android mobile apps. These two responsibilities are often intertwined, and leave me with new and exciting challenges to meet our clients’ needs. I never know what new challenges the next day might bring, but I know my team and I are always ready to take them on.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Outside of work, I volunteer my time and effort with a non-profit organization called One Brick Boston. Through One Brick Boston, I volunteer for different non-profit organizations throughout the city and help encourage others to volunteer for these great causes. I love being able to put my free time to good use and help make a positive impact on the community. I also enjoy having an active lifestyle, whether I’m running in an obstacle race, attending an American Ninja Warrior class or finding the next great adventure.

What are your thoughts on the ways healthcare is changing and what we can expect to see in the future?

The changes in healthcare have been long overdue. I’m excited to see that the tides are changing and that the healthcare industry finally sees the benefit of having telehealth visits. It’s even more apparent with the number of new prospects interested in the Mobile SDK. It’s only a matter time until having a telehealth visit is as common as searching a term on Google.

When you talk about telehealth and your role here with friends and family, what do you say?

When someone asks me what I do, I tell them I help deliver a simple way to see a doctor, anywhere and at any time, from your computer or your smart devices. I share my own visit experiences and how amazing it is to be able to avoid the hassle of traveling to the doctor’s office. I also explain that in my current role at Amwell, I get to see and help others use telehealth visits in new and different ways.

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[A Look Inside EMR and Telehealth Integration]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6438 2020-03-30T14:07:33Z 2016-08-30T19:04:21Z With more and more hospitals and health care facilities implementing electronic medical records (EMRs) into their IT infrastructure, telehealth is gaining traction as a way for physicians to keep in touch with their patients.

In the webinar, EMRs + Telehealth: Tying it all together, American Well’s Craig Bagley, director of sales engineering, spoke on how to utilize the company’s telehealth system.

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How can your telehealth service integrate with your EMR? DOTmed summarized the key learnings from our recent webinar on EMR integration and telehealth. Check out the key points and reach out if you’re looking for more details on this relevant topic.

With more and more hospitals and health care facilities implementing electronic medical records (EMRs) into their IT infrastructure, telehealth is gaining traction as a way for physicians to keep in touch with their patients.

In the webinar, EMRs + Telehealth: Tying it all together, Amwell’s Craig Bagley, director of sales engineering, spoke on how to utilize the company’s telehealth system.
“Integrating your telehealth program into your existing clinical information systems allows for the ongoing care and chronic care management of patients, in addition to being able to treat patients on their terms, wherever they are physically located,” said Bagley.

He described the Amwell telehealth enterprising system as a “fully-branded, white-labeled” system, which means that someone viewing a facility’s telehealth page does not see the Amwell logo and instead sees the facility’s own brand.

Read more on DOTmed.

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[Ramping up Telehealth: Lessons Learned from a Health Plan]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6387 2016-08-22T14:36:47Z 2016-08-22T14:36:47Z How do you launch a telehealth service? It can certainly seem like a big task, but when you break it down to a few key lessons, your chances of success grow. Sarah Martin, Assistant Vice President for Product Development & Member Engagement at Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, shared her insightful thoughts with us on a webinar on implementing telehealth for health plans.

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How do you launch a telehealth service?

It can certainly seem like a big task, but when you break it down to a few key lessons, your chances of success grow. Sarah Martin, Assistant Vice President for Product Development & Member Engagement at Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, shared her insightful thoughts with us on a webinar on implementing telehealth for health plans:

#1: Soft launch first, then market more widely

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina launched a telehealth program, Blue CareOnDemand, with American Well in January 2016. Instead of immediately launching marketing campaigns for members, the team spent January in a soft launch phase before introducing the service more broadly to members. This testing allowed the team to make any needed technical changes before marketing the service to their member population in early March. A softer launch prior to marketing ensures health plans can test the system and adapt to any learnings during the test phase.

#2: Push targeted marketing to your diverse member base

In terms of marketing, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina knew they should target those members that frequent the emergency room or could be redirected to a lower cost setting through Blue CareOnDemand. They wanted to go further, however, and look at other targets within their member population. They conducted persona research and analysis to better understand who would be more likely to use the service and benefit. Through research, they were able to do specific target marketing to different populations and implement a multi-faceted marketing plan with the right marketing mix to reach these other target segments.

#3: Recognize that your employers will want reporting

If you want your employers to invest in telehealth, they will want to see clear statistics and reporting on a regular basis. Through its telehealth platform, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina provides detailed reporting for employer clients. Before launching your telehealth offering, think about what you want to get out of reporting. This requires bringing all your stakeholders together and identifying the metrics that you want to benchmark and track on the analytics side.

Take note of these key lessons and you’ll be well prepared to launch telehealth, satisfying your members, employers and the stakeholders across your health plan.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Study: Telemedicine adoption up, provider-to-provider visits popular]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6292 2016-07-21T20:45:55Z 2016-07-21T14:39:21Z Roughly 61% of health systems have adopted some sort of telehealth in 2016, up 3.5% from 2015, according to the new HIMSS Analytics 2016 Telemedicine Study. The study surveyed 243 healthcare IT leaders in the U.S. and the overwhelming consensus was that telehealth is becoming more and more popular. So, why are health systems adopting […]

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Roughly 61% of health systems have adopted some sort of telehealth in 2016, up 3.5% from 2015, according to the new HIMSS Analytics 2016 Telemedicine Study. The study surveyed 243 healthcare IT leaders in the U.S. and the overwhelming consensus was that telehealth is becoming more and more popular. So, why are health systems adopting telehealth more and more?

     Percent of Respondents with a Telemedicine Solution

Percent of respondents with a telemedicine solution

Fill gaps in care

The steady increase in adoption year-over-year demonstrates how essential telehealth is becoming to health systems.  According to the same HIMSS study, the largest driving factor behind telehealth adoption in health systems continues to be filling gaps in patient care.

Provide new services

Interestingly, health systems are also adopting telehealth to provide services that are otherwise not available—this has been the key driver to growth each year since 2014. This is especially important when on-site physicians need to connect with specialists who may not be available on-site. At American Well, we have developed a product specifically for this type of provider-to-provider interaction called the Telemed Tablet.

Get providers and patients to connect more

Health Systems are also using two-way video telehealth more for provider-to-provider communications than for provider-to-patient interactions. According to the HIMSS Analytics survey, 43% of respondents use two-way video for provider-to-provider visits, while 38% use it to for provider-to-patient encounters. What’s even more interesting is that almost all these interactions are happening via desktops, while video visits via mobile and tablet platforms still remain relatively limited.

HIMSS1

        Source: HIMSS Analytics 2016 Telemedicine Study

 

Increase access to care

Another driver of telehealth adoption for health systems—and the only driver that has not appeared in years prior—is increasing 24/7 access to care. This signifies that health systems are using telehealth as an on-demand service outside of the typical “office hours.”

These four drivers are not only causing health systems to adopt telehealth, but motivating health systems that already use telehealth to invest further. According to the study, 25% of respondents who have not yet invested in telehealth plan to do so within the next two years, while 26% of those who already have some sort of telehealth service in place plan to invest further in the same time period. Of those organizations that plan to invest in telehealth, 60% plan to do so within the next 12 months.

Timeframe to Purchase Telemedicine Solution

HIMSS5

While it comes as no surprise that telehealth services are on the rise with health systems, the HIMSS Analytics study shines a light on what is driving this adoption, and how health systems plan on using it now and in the future.

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[Congrats to our “Most Wired” Healthcare Partners!]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6279 2016-07-15T19:31:15Z 2016-07-15T19:31:15Z When a partner is recognized by their industry for cutting-edge work, you’re proud to be aligned with a venerable brand and innovator. This was the case for us when the American Hospital Association recently came out with their list of the 2016 “Most Wired” hospitals. We’re excited that so many of our innovative partners were […]

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When a partner is recognized by their industry for cutting-edge work, you’re proud to be aligned with a venerable brand and innovator. This was the case for us when the American Hospital Association recently came out with their list of the 2016 “Most Wired” hospitals. We’re excited that so many of our innovative partners were recognized for their work collaborating with us on telemedicine.

The annual “Most Wired” list is designed to measure the level of information technology adoption in hospitals and health systems across the U.S. and serve as a tool for leadership to map their IT strategic plans.

This year’s list prominently featured those hospitals and health systems that are ramping up their efforts in telehealth, population health and IT security. Among the “Most Wired” were the following American Well partners:

  • Avera Health
  • Baptist Health South Florida
  • Bon Secours Health System
  • Carolinas Healthcare
  • Children’s Health System of Texas
  • Christiana Care
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Hackensack UMC
  • Intermountain Healthcare
  • MedStar Health
  • Memorial Healthcare
  • Nemours Children’s Health System
  • Nicklaus Children’s Hospital
  • Providence Health and Services
  • Reid Health
  • Riverside Health system
  • Luke’s University Health Network
  • Tampa General Hospital

We could not be more proud to partner with so many innovative provider organizations and work together to transform healthcare by bringing the best of real-world care online.

Click here to read a success story about Avera’s innovative work in telehealth.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[For Common Ailments, You Might Not Need an In-Office Visit…]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6264 2016-07-14T12:43:07Z 2016-07-07T15:39:56Z This post originally appeared on http://livewellnebraska.com. Misty Evans’ son was in his pajamas, sitting on the couch, as he talked to a doctor. When asked, his mom, of Lincoln, put the phone close to his mouth so the doc could see the back of his throat. They were taking advantage of telehealth, a new service […]

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This post originally appeared on http://livewellnebraska.com.

Misty Evans’ son was in his pajamas, sitting on the couch, as he talked to a doctor. When asked, his mom, of Lincoln, put the phone close to his mouth so the doc could see the back of his throat.

They were taking advantage of telehealth, a new service that lets patients see a doctor via computer, tablet or phone anytime, anywhere.

Telehealth

“The process took about ten minutes to register, you got to pick which doctor you wanted on the list after reading their credentials, we had to wait about 15 minutes, and then we were seen,” said Evans, who works for Crete Carrier Corporation. “The doctor sent a (prescription) over to Walgreens, and afterwards, I was sent a summary of the visit. It was awesome.”

Telehealth is another step in making health care more accessible and convenient, according to Dr. Joann Schaefer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s senior vice president and chief medical officer.

Read the rest of the blog here.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[The Future of Healthcare is… Now, according to The Wall Street Journal]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6240 2016-06-29T20:41:49Z 2016-06-29T15:53:06Z This week marked another media milestone for American Well – our company, CEO and several of our partners were featured in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cover story on telemedicine and how it is “finally living up to its potential.” The WSJ story caps a recent shift in the industry – and related news coverage […]

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This week marked another media milestone for American Well – our company, CEO and several of our partners were featured in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cover story on telemedicine and how it is “finally living up to its potential.”

AW_WallStreetJrn_June2016

The WSJ story caps a recent shift in the industry – and related news coverage – toward evaluating how major healthcare providers, health plans, employers, and retailers are now using telemedicine, as opposed to the futuristic analyses of days gone by.

Recent business stories that take a look at the implementation of telemedicine by leading healthcare brands include:

While we are of course pleased with the great coverage for American Well and some of our partners – including Anthem, Cleveland Clinic, CVS Health, Intermountain Healthcare, Nemours Children’s Health System, and UnitedHealth Group – we are just as excited to bear witness to telemedicine’s graduation from new and untested to established and transformative.

Here’s to a bright future indeed.

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[Where the Pediatric Patients are]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6191 2016-06-27T12:54:59Z 2016-06-27T12:50:48Z The U.S. News and World Report recently released its national ranking of the Best Children’s Hospitals. Hear about which of these hospitals use telehealth in treating pediatric patients.

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Jennifer McGuire is a director of health system solutions for American Well.

The U.S. News and World Report recently released its national ranking of the Best Children’s Hospitals. Always a go-to resource for learning about the most innovative and effective hospitals, the report gathers clinical data and compiles surveys from more than 10,000 pediatric specialists on where they would send the sickest children in their specialties. This year’s report is an impressive list of hospitals who are bringing new methods to care that improve health outcomes for children across the U.S.

Given our role in the healthcare spectrum, we congratulate all of the nearly 80 pediatric hospitals included, and we want to recognize the following hospitals:

  • Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital
  • Nemours, Orlando
  • Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami
  • Children’s Medical Dallas
  • Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University Health

What do they all have in common?

Besides being the best of the best in caring for children in specific specialties, they all believe in the power of telehealth. American Well, in turn, powers that telehealth. We’re proud to support these health systems in the incredible work they’re doing on behalf of patients to improve care outcomes for everyone they serve.

Pediatrics is one of the many use cases we see our clients implementing in telehealth and it goes well beyond urgent care. Children’s Medical Dallas has a telehealth practice for their clinically integrated network doctors to use the platform for scheduled follow-up visits. Hospitals are using telehealth to treat pediatric patients for neurosurgery, nutrition education and orthopedics.

Here are a few specific and unique ways that pediatric hospitals are applying video visits for their patients.

Kiosks: making healthcare available where the parents are

Children’s Medical Dallas provides kiosks to its employees in two of its major acute care hospitals, providing streamlined care to the doctors, nurses and staff who serve pediatric patients each day. Our client Avera has placed telemedicine kiosks in grocery store chain Hy-Vee, providing video care to busy parents and children aged two and up while they’re at the store taking care of errands. Avera has also set up nutrition programs and health events in the stores to promote quick, seamless care to the moms that shop at Hy-Vee. If you’re interested in learning more about Avera’s kiosks, check out their telehealth case study.

Telemed Tablet: offering consults to school nurses

Children’s hospitals are benefiting from our Telemed Tablet in unique ways. The tablet is a unique tool enabling provider-to-provider consults via video right from the bedside of a patient. By placing tablets in schools, nurses can connect immediately with specialists who provide consults on medical issues that falls within their expertise. That specialist can recommend follow-up care or solve the issue right on the consult. This eliminates the need for a child to be transported to an emergency room or office visit when it might not be needed.

The Exchange: making world-class pediatricians available beyond geographic boundaries

Nemours is making its providers available through the American Well Exchange. The Exchange is a virtual storefront – enabling health systems to offer their healthcare services to patients across the American Well network. In the case of Nemours, this means that any patient who uses the Amwell app (American Well’s direct-to-consumer app) in Florida can see a Nemours provider. Nemours makes its physicians and clinicians available to a much wider audience, introducing new patients to its top-ranked doctors and services. For the physician, it is as easy as clicking from one virtual patient examination room to the next. Pediatric hospitals who choose to work with American Well have the opportunity to open up their services to many more pediatric patients who could benefit from that care.

Pediatrics is an area of growth and opportunity for telehealth, and in fact, the American Telemedicine Association has a Pediatric Telehealth Special Interest Group dedicated to educating other organizations on how to best implement a pediatric telehealth strategy. We salute all of our health systems recognized this year for their innovation and quality care and we celebrate the early adopter providers who see telehealth as an innovative, effective tool for enhancing outcomes for pediatric patients.

 

 

 

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Amanda Guisbond <![CDATA[Amwell engineering team highlighted on VentureFizz]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6189 2020-03-13T18:08:40Z 2016-06-23T19:03:03Z This week we announced the appointment of longtime Amwell technology executive Jon Freshman to Chief Technology Officer. Following the news, VentureFizz, a popular Boston-area technology outlet, reached out with a few questions for Jon on what his appointment means for the company and what it’s like working on the engineering team. Below is a preview […]

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This week we announced the appointment of longtime Amwell technology executive Jon Freshman to Chief Technology Officer. Following the news, VentureFizz, a popular Boston-area technology outlet, reached out with a few questions for Jon on what his appointment means for the company and what it’s like working on the engineering team. Below is a preview of the Q&A which you can read in full on VentureFizz here.

Jon_Freshman_CTOAmwell Engineers Seamlessly Advance Telehealth

As seen on VentureFizz – Excerpt below

Amwell has recently appointed Jon Freshman as its new CTO, who has been with the company since its early days. It is the leading provider of telemedicine services through Amwell, the No. 1 most downloaded telehealth app. Through the years, Freshman watched the engineering team evolve and a helped develop a culture. Freshman joined Amwell in 2007, tackling web and mobile development. In 2013, he became the company’s first SVP of its R&D division.

We caught up with Freshman to hear about the exciting things the engineering team is up to. Read more in the interview below.

Amwell is hiring — take a look at their BIZZpage for open positions!

Jillian Gregoriou: Congratulations on your new role as CTO, Jon! You’ve been with Amwell since almost the very beginning. How have you seen the team evolve?

Jon Freshman: Originally, our team was focused on how to provide on-demand healthcare services to patients over web browsers. As our platform adoption grew, so too has the need for the team’s expertise to evolve into iOS and Android development, biometric device integration, analytics and monitoring.

JG: What has kept you at Amwell for almost a decade? What’s in the Kool-Aid?

JF: It’s a combination of many things, really – knowing that our products and services offer simple and affordable access to healthcare, working with our talented team of engineers, and of course, investing in the latest technologies.

To read the rest of this interview click here. 

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[4 Ways Healthcare is Getting a Return on Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6160 2016-06-16T15:36:23Z 2016-06-16T15:36:23Z An earlier version of this article appeared on MedCity. A recent study by Willis Towers Watson found that telehealth could save as much as $6 billion annually in U.S. healthcare costs. While this figure indicates huge potential within healthcare systems for reducing medical costs with telehealth, it’s equally important to break down these numbers into […]

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An earlier version of this article appeared on MedCity.

A recent study by Willis Towers Watson found that telehealth could save as much as $6 billion annually in U.S. healthcare costs. While this figure indicates huge potential within healthcare systems for reducing medical costs with telehealth, it’s equally important to break down these numbers into more specific return on investment use cases and data. Below are four examples of how hospitals are using telehealth to reduce medical costs and deliver high-quality care.

Telehealth

1. Readmission Reduction

Telehealth is being leveraged as a key part of hospitals’ programs to help combat high readmission rates. By improving follow-up and care management of a range of patients—from the chronically ill to patients recovering from surgery – hospitals can prevent many readmissions.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 25 percent of congestive heart failure patients in the U.S. are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, butEssentia Health has seen less than 2 percent of patients who participate in its telehealth program get readmitted in that same timeframe.

A report by the Commonwealth Fund found that Partners HealthCare’s Connected Cardiac Care Program has seen a 50 percent reduction in heart failure-related readmission rates for enrolled patients since its telemedicine pilot launched in 2006. The program has estimated a total cost savings of more than $10 million.

2. Patient Transport Cost Reduction

Telehealth has the potential to decrease the high costs of transporting patients. Health systems and facilities have seen significant cost efficiencies and improved outcomes through being able to avoid patient transfers.

A study conducted by the Center for Information Technology Leadership (CITL) found that implementing provider-to-provider hybrid telehealth technologies would result in annual net savings of $1.39 billion in avoided inter-emergency department transfers, $270.3 million in avoided correctional facility transfers, and $806 million in avoided nursing facility transfers. Telehealth can reduce transfer costs while promoting better patient quality of life.

3. Efficient Staff Utilization

Telehealth enables health systems to better distribute staff throughout their healthcare facilities and load-balance resources across entire systems, reaching more patients with less strain on specialist resources. Rural facilities may not have sufficient patient numbers to warrant certain types or numbers of specialists, but can treat patients effectively through telemedicine. Telehealth also improves provider-to-provider communication, which can  result in improved patient care and as a result, cost savings.

4. Preventative Outreach

About 1 in 10 hospitalizations were from a potentially preventable condition, such as complications of diabetes, dehydration, and heart conditions, costing hospitals billions of dollars a year. Telehealth can prevent hospital admissions by facilitating convenient monitoring for patients at the highest risk for hospitalization, including chronic care patients and those with behavioral health conditions.

A study by the Commonwealth Fund examining the Veterans Administration’s (VA) telehealth program, Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT), saw a 20 percent reduction in patients seeking hospital services for diabetes. On the behavioral health side, the VA saw a 56 percent reduction in hospital services for depression and a 40 percent drop in hospitalizations for other mental health issues. Together, these results translate to $2,000 in per-patient annual savings.

And the Unsung Use Case – Patient Satisfaction

While telehealth arms health systems with the resources needed to reduce medical spend, it’s also important to note that a significant portion of the value derived from telehealth comes from greater patient satisfaction. The VA found an average patient satisfaction score of 86 percent for its Home Telehealth program. CVS, which recently implemented telehealth into its Minute Clinics, has also seen an impressive patient satisfaction rate of 90 percent with telehealth. Our app Amwell sees average patient satisfaction scores of 91%.

As hospitals seek to decrease costs and increase patient satisfaction, telehealth will continue to be a critical tool to reduce costs and offer better patient care.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[New Case Study with Avera Health]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=6093 2018-04-04T15:14:43Z 2016-05-26T16:43:49Z Heading into 2015, Avera wanted to introduce a direct-to-consumer telehealth offering to complement its already established business-to-business telemedicine network. Avera aimed to offer video visits to a population of more than 1 million people, within an expansive 72,000 square miles. Here’s a recap of the recently released case study that highlights Avera’s goals and roadmap for its direct-to-consumer telehealth launch. Consumer Telehealth […]

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Heading into 2015, Avera wanted to introduce a direct-to-consumer telehealth offering to complement its already established business-to-business telemedicine network. Avera aimed to offer video visits to a population of more than 1 million people, within an expansive 72,000 square miles. Here’s a recap of the recently released case study that highlights Avera’s goals and roadmap for its direct-to-consumer telehealth launch.

Consumer Telehealth Goals

Avera garnered support from the highest levels of the organization to pursue consumer telehealth and together the team identified three key goals for Avera’s direct-to-consumer offering, AveraNow:

  1. Assist Avera Health Plan with diverting patients away from unnecessary office-based and emergency room care.
  2. Create a strong affiliation with Avera primary care providers.
  3. Attract new patients residing within the Avera geographic market.

Defining the Requirements

Avera already had a number of criteria in mind for consumer telehealth success. These criteria included the support for multiple use cases beyond urgent care, access via multiple end points such as mobile, web and kiosk and a high quality online care experience. Additionally, Avera wanted to engage physicians while adhering to proper clinical standards and to ensure that the platform fit into Avera’s existing health plan.

Avera and American Well worked together to implement the requirements. They first configured and set up the solution on the back-end to meet critical technical and security requirements, before building a branded application on the front-end.

AveraNow on mobile

Communication was critical to implementation success. Avera not only had to effectively communicate the new service to consumers within its expansive footprint, but to physicians within the Avera ecosystem.

To effectively reach patients, Avera marketed the service via an integrated campaign, which included email marketing, online advertising, a robust remarketing program, local television and billboard ads and a public relations campaign which resulted in broadcast media opportunities.

Early Results

Since launching AveraNow in the summer of 2015, Avera has seen encouraging results, with both enrollments and visits climbing month-by-month. Patients were highly pleased with the treatment and professionalism of the Avera physicians offering care on AveraNow: overall physicians rating averaged 4.7 based on a 5-point scale.

Future Roadmap

Avera has many short-term and long-term objectives for AveraNow, one of which is to expand the service to cover new use cases. Some of these use cases include:

  • Retail Health
  • School Health
  • Coordinated Chronic Care
  • Readmissions Prevention

American Well and Avera will also be holding a webinar to discuss the case study on Tuesday, June 14th at 2PM ET. Click here to register.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Getting Started with Telehealth: The Top Five List]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5970 2016-05-02T13:30:13Z 2016-05-02T13:30:13Z So you’re considering telehealth, but you’re wondering where to start. Here are the top five considerations you should take into account for a successful telehealth strategy and implementation. #1: Start with the end in mind When you first begin seriously considering telehealth for your organization—whether it be a health system, health plan, employer, retailer, etc.—you need to […]

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So you’re considering telehealth, but you’re wondering where to start. Here are the top five considerations you should take into account for a successful telehealth strategy and implementation.

#1: Start with the end in mind

When you first begin seriously considering telehealth for your organization—whether it be a health system, health plan, employer, retailer, etc.—you need to ask yourself “What are my telehealth program goals?” Is your organization interested in acquiring new patients or do you want to save money?  Are you going to measure success based on antibiotic stewardship or based on reductions in hospitalizations? Is it more important to increase primary care relationships or have high visits and enrollments on the system? There is no right or wrong answer; it depends on what your organization is looking to achieve through telehealth. Once you have your goal in mind, it will dictate how the rest of the program is set up and executed.

 

#2: Identify all your potential use cases and prioritize

A major misconception about telehealth is that it can only be used for urgent care. In reality, there are many use cases for telehealth, including but certainly not limited to behavioral health, medication management, asthma counseling, pediatric care, post hospital discharge, pregnancy and lactation services, and dermatology.  When implementing telehealth for the first time, you will want to first identify all the potential use cases for your organization, and then prioritize them based on what you need right now, and what you should implement further on down the line.

use cases

 

#3: Enlist providers from the get-go

There is nothing more important than physician buy-in. If the physicians are excited about telehealth, its chances of succeeding grow exponentially. In order to garner physician excitement, you should invite clinical discussion from the get-go and recruit clinical leaders who are not only excited about telehealth, but who are respected within the clinical community. If a respected clinician becomes a telehealth champion, other physicians who are more hesitant will begin to show support for the initiative. Another important step is to create care guidelines and protocols to help ensure the physicians that telehealth is a safe way to practice medicine. Online Care Group has its own set of clinical guidelines that physicians can use, and they also hold telehealth Grand Rounds to bring together the clinical community to engage in conversation and share use cases.

Providers

 

#4: Make a telehealth integration roadmap

There are a lot of moving parts when you’re implementing a telehealth service—from managing workflows and administration functionalities, to handling eligibility and claims. Some other integration considerations include where the service is going to be hosted and how. American Well has the ability to build you a dedicated telehealth consumer app—complete with your logo, fonts and colors—or we can place the telehealth functionality in to your existing app with our mobile SDK.  Once you’ve decided how consumers are going to access the service, you’ll need to choose how you’re going to offer it—on-demand, scheduled or both. If you’re considering scheduled visits, you will need to figure out how to balance that with a physician’s brick and mortar schedule. If you’re a health system, you’re also going to want to integrate with your EMR. While American Well has APIs specifically for this type of integration, it’s always useful to map out an entire integration plan before getting started.

Mobile SDK

#5: Plan for consumer engagement

The saying “If you build it they will come” does not apply to telehealth—you need to tell consumers about it! The first step to marketing a telehealth service is setting a budget and having goals that can be realistically attained under that budget. Next, you should adopt a multi-channel approach that includes things like email, direct mail, digital and in-office marketing. By monitoring and measuring each of these channels, you will find which are garnering the best consumer response. You should be communicating regularly with your providers, whether it’s via in-person meetings, newsletters or email, to ensure they are aware and on-board with the service before, during and after launch.

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to successful launch and offering.

 

 

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[More than Adequate: the New CMS Medicaid Requirements]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5975 2016-05-31T21:25:02Z 2016-04-29T12:35:29Z CMS recently unveiled its new Medicaid managed care regulatory requirements, and with it took a great leap forward in acknowledging the inherent value of telehealth.

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CMS recently unveiled its new Medicaid managed care regulatory requirements, and with it took a great leap forward in acknowledging the inherent value of telehealth.

For the first time, the agency urged states to consider telemedicine as they create their individual network adequacy standards for private Medicaid plans. This is a significant stake in the ground.

Historically, CMS adequacy measurements have not allowed for telehealth to meet these criteria. However, this new regulation combined with the National Association for Insurance Commissioners model state legislation, which if codified, would formally add telehealth as an acceptable element of meeting adequacy standards, gives states the tools and the encouragement they need to better serve their Medicaid populations through technology.

CMS estimates that approximately 74 million Americans will receive care through Medicaid this year. In order to provide sufficient provider access to these millions of patients, states must now act and modernize their laws and regulations to take full advantage of the benefits of telehealth.

We look forward to hearing thoughts and discussing these new requirements with the industry.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Avizia Among 10 Most Promising Telemedicine Solutions]]> https://www.americanwell.com/avizia-among-10-most-promising-telemedicine-solutions/ 2016-04-26T00:00:00Z 2016-04-26T00:00:00Z Avizia Offers Transformational Telemedicine Solutions for Optimum Patient Care The adoption of telehealth platforms are transforming the traditional methods of care delivery in the healthcare continuum. Telemedicine technology is at center point of stimulating patient-centric care by leveraging advanced clinical facilities at any time and any location to improve quality of care. Amidst the mobile technologie […]

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Avizia Offers Transformational Telemedicine Solutions for Optimum Patient Care

The adoption of telehealth platforms are transforming the traditional methods of care delivery in the healthcare continuum. Telemedicine technology is at center point of stimulating patient-centric care by leveraging advanced clinical facilities at any time and any location to improve quality of care. Amidst the mobile technologie and Electronic Health Records (EHR) proliferating in healthcare industry, two-way interactive interactions through telehealth platforms enable clinicians to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients at remote locations in a viable and cost-effective fashion.

Healthcare Tech Outlook recently published their 10 Most Promising Telemedicine Solution Providers of 2016, noting Avizia’s transformational telehealth solutions for optimal patient care. Enterprise telehealth requires certain commitment, governance, and planning. Avizia has helped large health systems, provider networks, and home care agencies, to prepare for successful system-wide telehealth implementations. Avizia’s flexible end-to-end telehealth platform is designed to tackle the most common modalities that healthcare providers are striving to address today–behavioral health, general medicine, and emergency care–in additional to newly emerging telemedicine applications.

Avizia’s telemedicine carts and peripherals help connect physicians, specialists and their patients to the point of care from geographically dispersed locations. While facilitating collaboration with the care teams, patients can hold their interactions with doctors or nurses via Avizia’s medical devices from the luxury of their own homes, or even from outskirts of the cities.

Further, a telehealth program can only be successful if it can mimic the existing clinical practice. Avizia has designed its workflow software to achieve all levels of optimum care from scheduling patients to delivering care and tracking their recovery. Avizia offers a complete suite of software designed to integrate with an organization’s existing Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems.  At a glance, Avizia ONE enables more efficient care coordination, communication, and virtual care.

Read the complete article on Healthcare Tech Outlook.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Amwell Client Forum Recap]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5854 2020-03-13T14:41:24Z 2016-04-13T14:44:06Z Amwell is still coming down off a terrific week in beautiful, albeit not-so-sunny San Diego (it rained most of the time, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast!), where we hosted our second-ever Client Forum at the Omni Hotel. This telehealth meeting of the minds brought together clients and partners, including top health […]

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Amwell is still coming down off a terrific week in beautiful, albeit not-so-sunny San Diego (it rained most of the time, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast!), where we hosted our second-ever Client Forum at the Omni Hotel.

This telehealth meeting of the minds brought together clients and partners, including top health systems, health plans, employers, associations and medical boards to hash out telehealth best practices, discuss hurdles, and share in the overall excitement of industry growth.

As they say in Vegas (or San Diego?), we think it’s important to keep what happened at the Client Forum at the Client Forum, but we wanted to share a few thematic and general takeaways from the sessions.

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Our clients are telehealth trendsetters. And we’re not just saying that because they’re our clients.  Through panelist discussions, keynotes, and even just informal chatter during breaks, the week was pervaded by a strong sense that we were among the industry’s best. Our clients are coming up with ground-breaking use cases for telehealth; measuring all aspects of a telehealth encounter, from ROI to patient satisfaction; and constantly conceptualizing innovative ways to insert telehealth into the care delivery model. But what was equally impressive was the overall sense of camaraderie among all in attendance. Health systems who have been using telehealth for years, such as Cleveland Clinic and Avera, were sharing best practices with smaller health systems that were just getting started with telehealth. Health plans were working alongside health systems and employers alongside payers, to really get into the essence of what makes telehealth work, and what needs to be fixed in order to succeed.

Clients have personal telehealth experiences. Leaders in the healthcare industry shared personal stories of their own overwhelmingly positive experiences with telehealth. In every story there were clear benefits to the patients and caregivers, as well as the physicians and hospitals. The personal touch captured by these vignettes of firsthand experiences humanized the decisions of healthcare executives, who truly believe in the power that telehealth offers.

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Provider engagement is key to success. While consumers have begun to embrace telehealth, physician engagement is equally critical to its success. Many health systems discussed different strategies for physician engagement, while health plans shared concerns of fragmenting provider relations. One health system recommended choosing a telehealth use case based on physician enthusiasm and respect—the thought being that an excited physician is the best advocate to influence other physicians to try telehealth..

Reimbursement is complicated. The landscape for reimbursement continues to improve each month, but payers are still working through how to properly reimburse for telehealth visits. Should telehealth visits be reimbursed the same as in-person visits? There was discussion and debate for both sides. Most agreed that telehealth provided equal value and quality compared to an in-office visit. While we didn’t settle every last telehealth reimbursement challenge at the Client Forum, it is clear that everyone involved in telehealth wants it to be as successful as possible.

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Mike Lemovitz, Director of Client Relations, gives a demo of the Amwell kiosk.

 

Future projections are positive, but now we need to execute. We’re all familiar with the enormous projections for telehealth—from telehealth visits skyrocketing to 180 million by 2018, to certain health systems expecting to do more video visits than in-person visits by 2018. And while these projections are exciting, they also require immediate and ongoing action. Health systems and physicians need to play today in order to execute on future projections and make telehealth into the industry we all know it can be.

We’re excited that we could share a few days meeting with the early adopters and influencers in the telehealth space and are already planning for next year’s forum. Stay tuned…

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Chad Barrera <![CDATA[Employee Spotlight]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5824 2020-03-30T14:08:46Z 2016-04-01T19:38:22Z Sierra Sohl-Dickstein talks about why she was excited to join American Well. “After trying our product, it was easy to see so many opportunities for it to improve the healthcare experience on a wide scale. The potential to make an impact felt really high, which was exciting then, and remains so today!”

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Name: Sierra Sohl-Dickstein

Title: Senior Product Manager

Department: Product Management

Start Date: December, 2014

What attracted you to Amwell?

When I was interviewing, I was struck by the enthusiasm of everyone I met. I saw joining Amwell as an opportunity to be part of a team where everyone was completely invested in what we’re doing and where we’re headed. Day in, day out, I’ve always felt that it’s the people that make the organization.  Right away, I could tell I would be joining a really strong group and working alongside a great set of people. After trying our product, it was easy to see so many opportunities for it to improve the healthcare experience on a wide scale. The potential to make an impact felt really high, which was exciting then, and remains so today!

What does a day in the life of a Product Manager look like?

Every day is completely different – that variety is one of the things I love about working at Amwell.  In product, one of our core functions is to manage the product roadmap. We look to customers to provide information on their needs and experiences, and we consider how the product could address their challenges. We meet regularly with each customer’s project manager to understand how the customer is using the product, and discuss high priority issues.

For me, every day starts with Agile style stand-ups with our web and mobile development teams. We talk about what’s going on in the development process for a release cycle, and raise any blocking issues.  We’re always looking forward to the next release so I spend a good deal of time collaborating with colleagues in Development, QA, and Visual Design to define new features. This may include wireframing a redesigned version of the patient homepage, or just whiteboarding requirements with the team.

Depending on the day, I might also be writing Release Notes, working with other internal departments at Amwell, or speaking with another company with whom we might collaborate.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I enjoy running and exploring new neighborhoods around Boston. Some friends and I have a paint club, where we get together and all paint the same scene. I also really enjoy camping in the Summer and Fall, especially at Hermit Island Campground in Maine.

 Have you used Amwell’s direct-to-consumer app, Amwell?

Yes, many times! I had my first ‘real’ visit just a few weeks after starting at Amwell. I had flu-like symptoms, a terrible sore throat, and was losing my voice. When the video visit began, I got out two words, and my voice was completely shot. I gestured to my boyfriend to come over and tell the doctor about my symptoms. The doctor guided me to shine a flashlight i to my mouth so that she could look at my throat. I also used the chat function to type answers to the doctor’s questions. It turned out I had a robust case of laryngitis.

What are your thoughts on the ways healthcare is changing and what we can expect to see in the future?

In healthcare, quality always matters. More and more, I think people expect that quality to be easily accessible, and affordable. I’m convinced that having a visit online will soon be a very common way to access care, whether for an urgent care issue, a follow-up appointment, or to manage a chronic condition.  Telehealth will be just another way to receive care, and often the most convenient.

Each release, I see how new features, like multiway video, can enhance how patients get healthcare, and allow them to get the support they need. At this moment, there are still a lot of challenges we face in healthcare, but there’s so much focus on this area, and our momentum is growing. I think there are endless opportunities for technology to solve healthcare problems, and it’s a tremendously exciting time!

What were you doing before you came onboard?
Optimus Prime, Megatron, Dinobot Slog – before Amwell, I was on Hasbro’s Transformers Global Brand Team. I worked on core products as well as the new Transformers television show. Before that, I worked at the Harvard School of Public Health for seven years, which helped me to better understand the challenges we face in providing healthcare to all.

When you talk about telehealth with friends and family, what do you say?

I start with the basics that when they’re sick, they can go online and get immediate help from a doctor, 24/7. This scenario resonates with everyone who has raced to an urgent care clinic, only to wait around for a long time feeling crummy. But, Amwell does so much more, and I talk a lot about how much choice our platform offers customers. Whether it’s getting wrap-around support from the Online Care Group, offering therapy or nutrition appointments, or adding on Kiosks or Telemed Tablets, Amwell’s offering can be modular, and completely flexible. It allows the customer to launch quickly, and then continue to enhance its offering. When I talk about work, folks are always surprised at just how much the Amwell platform can offer, and how much choice the customer has in designing the patient experience.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telemedicine: An Alternative to Costly Hospital Transfers]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telemedicine-an-alternative-to-costly-hospital-transfers/ 2016-03-23T00:00:00Z 2016-03-23T00:00:00Z Hospitals and the Open-door Transfer Policy: Can We Do a Better Job? In Dr. Pitt’s latest edition to At the Intersection of Technology and Health, he explores why doctors don’t question hospital transfers, and how patients who are unnecessarily transferred face financial risk. Today, 30% of bankruptcies in America are caused by medical expenses. Telemedicine technology is becoming a valuable […]

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Hospitals and the Open-door Transfer Policy: Can We Do a Better Job?

In Dr. Pitt’s latest edition to At the Intersection of Technology and Health, he explores why doctors don’t question hospital transfers, and how patients who are unnecessarily transferred face financial risk. Today, 30% of bankruptcies in America are caused by medical expenses. Telemedicine technology is becoming a valuable alternative to costly hospital transfers.

Helicopter Hospital TransferHistorically the phone has been the only option for communication between hospitals. With no other information, the open door policy made sense. But times have changed. Just as you can Skype with friends over long distances, expert care can also be delivered remotely. Such advances are extremely important for credibility between providers and between providers and patients. Video improves relationships and credibility in the care cycle. Enabled by video (a primary tool of telemedicine), centers of excellence could complete their mission, support the outline facility, and still be more selective in which patients they accept for transfer.

This business model has worked effectively for telestroke treatment. Rural emergency room physicians weren’t comfortable initially with the administration of clot busting agents (t-PA) for stroke. But through the use of telemedicine, stroke experts now stand behind rural physicians, helping them decide whether or not to administer t-PA and whether or not the patient is to be transferred. This partnership allows patients to receive a higher level of care, while the number of transfers has diminished. It’s a win-win for both rural hospitals and urban centers of excellence. The same change in process, replacing the phone with video, is widely applicable to all sorts of clinical scenarios.

The healthcare community is built on principles of compassion and a chance to heal. But well-intended efforts that make it easy for patients to get care at tertiary facilities have unintended consequences. Care decisions need to be gauged against the ultimate outcome for our patients. Of course we need to take care of those patients who need tertiary services. However a blanket open-door policy for transfer may not be the right answer in 2016. To save someone who didn’t need saving, while ruining their financial health in the process, is not just a matter of outmoded policy; it is something close to a crime of neglect.

Click here to read more At the Intersection of Technology and Health.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[The Top Telehealth Terms to Know]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5709 2020-03-30T14:11:18Z 2016-03-17T15:17:37Z As Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” At American Well, we recognize that telehealth is a new or budding concept for a lot of people in a lot of different industries. Our goal is to help you understand how telehealth can work for you and what exactly all these buzzwords mean.

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As Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” At Amwell, we recognize that telehealth is a new or budding concept for a lot of people in a lot of different industries. Our goal is to help you understand how telehealth can work for you and what exactly all these buzzwords mean.

Here are the top telehealth terms we think every person new to the industry should know:

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ACOs: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers who voluntarily collaborate to provide high-quality care to patients through contracts with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and/or private healthcare insurers. The goal of this coordinated care is to ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, while avoiding duplication of services and preventing medical errors. Telehealth is on the rise in ACOs.

API: An application program interface (API) is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. The API stipulates how software components should interact. Amwell has three types of APIs: administrative, scheduling and clinical. Our administrative APIs provide ways for staff to enroll patients and list “directories” of available providers. Our scheduling APIs allow EMR scheduling systems to synchronize scheduled visits with Amwell, with the option to trigger emails to patient and physicians. The clinical interfaces provide data exchange before, during, and after visits, such as sharing a patient’s health history.

Appointment Scheduling: In addition to on-demand video visits, patients and physicians can schedule video appointments with one another. The self-scheduling option allows patients to get care when they need it, at times that fit into their schedules. Providers can use dedicated telehealth time slots to fit in more visits, and can use scheduling to see their own patients.

Apple Health: Apple Health, or Apple HealthKit, is a preinstalled app on Apple Watch and all iOS8 devices that contains an easy-to-read dashboard for a person’s fitness and health data. The app shows heart rate, calories burned, cholesterol and other important vital information, as well as results of lab tests, diagnoses and medical examinations. Amwell is integrated with Apple Health to allow telehealth physicians to immediately access and track a patient’s health information with just one click. This integration is key for chronic patients and population health management.

ATA Accreditation: The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) developed an accreditation program to establish standard criteria regarding the security of patient information, transparency in pricing and operations, qualifications and licensing of providers and clinical practices and guidelines for telemedicine. This seal of accreditation can provide reassurance for consumers, as well as for payers, who can be confident that they a reimbursing a virtual service that is safe and of high quality. Amwell earned ATA’s first accreditation for online patient consultations.

AW9: Amwell’s next generation product line, AW9, was revealed at HIMSS 2016 in Las Vegas. Included in its wide suite of features is the mobile SDK, which allows companies to embed telehealth right into their own app, and Multiway video, which allows doctors and patients to invite other specialists and caregivers right into the visit. Click here for an in-depth showing of AW9 features.

Brokerage System: Amwell’s brokerage system is a patented core technology that organizes pools of providers to efficiently meet patient demand while considering availability, clinical specialty, medical regulations, licensure and other qualifications. The brokerage system is a central feature across our entire platform that helps facilitates patient-to-provider consults, as well as provider-to-provider consults (via the Telemed Tablet). The brokerage system was invented by Roy Schoenberg, MD, MPH CEO and co-founder of Amwell.

EMRs: Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) contain the standard medical and clinical data gathered by a patient’s provider, and allows that provider to track data over time. Amwell allows physicians to seamlessly and safely access EMRs for better patient care.

ePrescribing: ePrescribing is the ability for physicians to fill medical prescriptions online via telehealth. Amwell physicians e-prescribe when deemed medically appropriate, and only in the states that allow ePrescribing. Surescripts enables Amwell’s ePrescribing functionality.

EHRs: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) go one step beyond EMRs by tracking clinical data from multiple facilities and agencies. EHRs share a patient’s medical history from all providers involved in his or her care, and are often digitized to improve efficiency, care and cost. Amwell allows physicians to seamlessly and safely access EHRs for better patient care.

FSMB: The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is a national nonprofit representing the 70 medical and osteopathic boards of the United States and its territories.[i] The Federation of State Medical Board (FSMB) is a leader in medical regulations, serving as an innovative catalyst for effective policy and standards. FSMB adopted policy guidelines for the safe practice of telehealth, which includes the tenets we mentioned above. FSMB has and will continue to play a key role in regulating the telehealth industry.

HIPAA-Compliant: Any company—including telehealth companies—that handle protected health information (PHI) must ensure that all security measures are in place and followed according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA dictates the acceptable handling of sensitive information, the proper management of information assets, and responsibilities around security and privacy obligations such as training and user access. All of the systems that operate using Amwell are private, secure and HIPAA-compliant.

Insight: Insight puts information from any outside system in front of a doctor during a telehealth visit—patient history, gaps in care, and disease management checklists. With AW9, Insight extends to content that is relevant to entire populations—referral instructions, prescription guidelines, and wellness program updates go live to providers immediately.

Kiosks: Amwell kiosks come in enclosed, console, and desktop form, and are used as a way for patients to connect with doctors for immediate medical care. Typically used by employers, retailers and health systems, kiosks come equip with a touchscreen interface, high-definition webcam, integrated peripheral and biometric devices, vital sign collection capabilities and much more.

Mobile SDK: Amwell introduced the industry’s first mobile software development kit as part of the AW9 launch in March 2016. This mobile SDK allows health systems to add online video doctors’ visits into their native mobile apps, making on-demand care a part of their consumer experience.

Multiway Video: Another featured launched with AW9, multiway video allows a physician or patient to simply invite other participates, such as a specialist, family member, caregiver, or language translator, into a live video visit. Multiway video can be used for a range of reasons, from clinical collaboration and family care, to translation services.

Sidekick App: An extension of the Telemed Tablet, the Sidekick app supplements a live video consultation with images taken on an iPhone. Doctors can easily sync the Telemed Tablet with the iPhone before snapping and sending pictures of EKGs, Xrays, patient history, and other documentation. Images are not saved or stored after the visit to ensure patient privacy and compliance.

Telehealth/Telemedicine: There are many different definitions for telehealth and telemedicine, as well as continuous debate over whether they actually mean the same thing. At Amwell, our solution uses technology to solve care delivery challenges, which is why we see no distinction between telehealth and telemedicine. We define both terms as a remote consultation between a doctor and a patient. We believe–as does the Federation of State Medical Boards –that for telehealth to be a true healthcare encounter, several tenets must be upheld: immediacy, patient choice, video and care continuity.

Telehealth 2.0: Telehealth 2.0 is a term coined by Roy Schoenberg, our co-founder and CEO of Amwell. The term marks the seismic shift in the healthcare industry’s focus on telehealth in 2015, which had been previously focused almost exclusively on delivering urgent care treatment to patients. With new technologies like Amwell’s AW8 release, telehealth is now used by providers to directly care for patients, giving them the tools needed to use telehealth on their own patients, and treat a range of conditions—from chronic care management to surgery follow-up.

Telehealth Medical Practices: Telehealth medical practices allow health systems to mirror traditional brick and mortar settings by offering practices beyond urgent care. Amwell offers its own set of medical practices that include behavioral health, nutrition and medical. Health organizations that use Amwell’s platform can also offer their own unique practices—neurology, dermatology, and surgical follow-up— via telehealth.

Telemed Tablet: An FDA-approved Class 1 device, the Telemed Tablet allows a doctor or nurse to tap into a pool of on-call specialists and connect for an immediate video consult in any setting, from the office to the patient’s bedside to the ER. The Telemed Tablet can equip any point of care with specialists, without the cost of full-time onsite staff or travel. New features of the Telemed Tablet include a PTZ Camera and the Sidekick app.

Webside Manner: Coined in 2009 by Amwell, webside manner refers to how a healthcare professional interacts and communicates with a patient via online video. Doctors on Amwell have outstanding webside manner, receiving 4.8 out of 5 stars in patient satisfaction.

What other telehealth terms come to mind for you?

[i] http://www.fsmb.org/

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telehealth Brings Doctors into Schools]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telehealth-brings-doctors-into-schools/ 2016-03-14T00:00:00Z 2016-03-14T00:00:00Z From infancy thru adolescence and into young adulthood, the ability to access quality healthcare can often determine if a child will mature healthy, or be afflicted with a lifelong condition that might have otherwise been avoided. Providers worldwide are using telehealth to break down barriers and find unique new ways to reach children and their […]

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From infancy thru adolescence and into young adulthood, the ability to access quality healthcare can often determine if a child will mature healthy, or be afflicted with a lifelong condition that might have otherwise been avoided. Providers worldwide are using telehealth to break down barriers and find unique new ways to reach children and their parents.

Typically found in communities that face economic and healthcare burdens, School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) exist to meet the healthcare needs of children and parents, as well as local community members. The synergy of telehealth and SBHCs enables primary care medicine to reach into schools for assessment, diagnosis and prescribing, reducing the need for parents to usher their children from school to the doctor’s office.

When children get sick at school, it can be a big disruption. Kids miss class, and their parents need to leave work, try to schedule a last minute doctor’s appointment or visit the Emergency Department. Telehealth is changing the equation by connecting kids to pediatricians without leaving their school’s campus. That’s the idea behind Children’s Health in Texas innovative program which has gone from reaching several hundred kids to thousands.

Children’s started a telehealth program at a pair of preschools in 2013. Today, there are telemedicine carts in 57 urban and rural campuses across North Texas. It’s one of the largest school-based telemedicine programs for kids in the country. Dozens of schools across the country are experimenting with telemedicine – from Kansas to Arizona and Georgia. Most are collecting data to see if the programs help kids miss fewer days of school while helping parents save time and money.

Click here to read the original article published by NewsWorks.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[AW9 Launch – Watch the Videos!]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5645 2018-04-04T15:07:58Z 2016-03-10T19:44:26Z Last week we officially launched AW9 at HIMSS. Watch the videos and see for yourself how this release takes telehealth to the next level, making care even more accessible for patients and even easier to deliver for doctors.

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Last week we officially launched AW9 at HIMSS.Watch the videos and see for yourself how this release takes telehealth to the next level, making care even more accessible for patients and even easier to deliver for doctors.

This intro to AW9 video features insight from Roy Schoenberg, our CEO

The mobile SDK, which makes it possible to plug telehealth into another app, is an industry first, and was a major point of interest at HIMSS

Another game-changer in AW9 is Multiway Video, which allows patients and doctors to invite others to join their telehealth visits

AW9 also introduces new functionality to the Telemed Tablet, which brings specialist care to wherever it is needed with the touch of a button

For details on these key features and more, check out our press release and our completely revamped product page.

 

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Employee Spotlight]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5636 2016-03-08T16:26:20Z 2016-03-08T16:07:46Z Meet Lauren Stanzler, the newest addition to our Business Development team. "I think telehealth is the way of the future. My generation is accustomed to having everything at the click of a button – a car ride, fast food, or a hotel room. Why should healthcare be any different?"

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Name: Lauren Stanzler

Title: Business Development Associate

Department: Marketing

Start Date: January 21, 2016

I think telehealth is the way of the future. My generation is accustomed to having everything at the click of a button – a car ride, fast food, or a hotel room. Why should healthcare be any different?

Lauren's photo

What attracted you to American Well?

I studied Community Health in college. I have always been very passionate about reducing health disparities between those that have access to quality healthcare and those that do not. American Well’s technology not only expands access to healthcare, but also improves the quality of care being delivered. I like being part of an established company, but one that is constantly innovating and evolving. That was exciting to me.

What were you doing before you came onboard?

I worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters, a non-profit in Boston. I was an Enrollment Coordinator, responsible for interviewing potential mentors and matching them with kids in need of support. I spent a lot of time in the community – interviewing families in their homes, and visiting kids at their schools. I became very comfortable interacting with a diverse group of people (and also tracking people down!). I think that skill set translated nicely to the role of a Business Development Associate.

What does a day in the life of a Business Development Associate at American Well look like?

Every day is different, however, my main responsibility is to find opportunities for new business. Leads come to my team from various sources, such as events, webinars, our website, and word of mouth. As a Business Development Associate, I track these leads and identify the ones that might be interested in our services. I focus on health systems. Part of the job is also doing some detective work – finding out which hospitals might be interested in telemedicine. I also enjoy getting involved in department initiatives. Recently, the marketing team launched a chat feature on the company’s website. The Business Development team has been responding to a lot of inquiries about telehealth through the chat, such as “how do I apply to be a physician” or “can a doctor treat me for this?” We wear many hats, and that is what makes the job so exciting.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I like being active. I love trying different fitness studios around the city. I also enjoy exploring Boston. In my previous job, I traveled to all of the neighborhoods in the city. I am also part of a book club, and I play softball through Social Boston Sports in the spring. I like cooking and trying new restaurants (especially those that are vegetarian-friendly!).

Have you used American Well’s direct-to-consumer app, Amwell?

I wanted to show the app to my parents, so we all participated in a visit together. My mom had a question about nutrition. My parents, who were initially somewhat nervous about the new experience of seeing a doctor online, loved the visit! They thought the doctor had great “webside manner.” This was quite the compliment, given that my mom worked for an organization whose mission is to promote compassionate healthcare.

What are your thoughts on the ways healthcare is changing and what we can expect to see in the future?

I think telehealth is the way of the future. My generation is accustomed to having everything at the click of a button – a car ride, fast food, or a hotel room. Why should healthcare be any different? I think that most people would agree our healthcare system is broken. It’s expensive, and often very inefficient. Telehealth is only one piece of the puzzle to improving healthcare, but it is a critical one. If we can treat patients remotely – regardless of where they are in the world – then we can revolutionize the way healthcare is delivered.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Emergency Care by Appointment: An Oxymoron?]]> https://www.americanwell.com/emergency-care-by-appointment-an-oxymoron/ 2016-03-08T00:00:00Z 2016-03-08T00:00:00Z Published February 18, 2016 by The Western PA Healthcare News Team By Dr. Alan Pitt In a WSJ article entitled“Why ER Visits for Non-Emergencies Aren’t Going Away,” Dr. Paul Auerbach, a teaching professor of Emergency Medicine at Stanford’s School of Medicine, summarizes some of the critical factors contributing to and causing over utilization within emergency […]

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By Dr. Alan Pitt

emergency room hallway with bed and nursesIn a WSJ article entitled“Why ER Visits for Non-Emergencies Aren’t Going Away,” Dr. Paul Auerbach, a teaching professor of Emergency Medicine at Stanford’s School of Medicine, summarizes some of the critical factors contributing to and causing over utilization within emergency departments. As outlined by Dr. Auerbach, emergency departments are currently a necessary part of American healthcare. However, active marketing of hospital emergency departments as “America’s clinic”—seems ill conceived. To understand why, let’s look at the emergency room experience from all sides: that of the patient, the provider, and the hospital.

The Patient’s Perspective

Although policy makers and insurers would like to believe otherwise, when you’re sick, injured or in pain, you’re not in a frame of mind to make rational decisions about the lowest cost, highest quality provider. Patients want answers and reassurance as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, access to prompt care has become a real issue. Often people prefer to pay a convenience charge (or they don’t pay) to be seen immediately rather than wait weeks (or even months). Emergency physicians often provide such instant gratification, but they are not equipped to deliver long-term solutions.

The Provider’s Perspective

Overworked and overbooked providers often use the emergency department as a backstop for their practice. One way they do this is through the nearly universal after-hours use of the recording, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911,” which pushes the patient to the emergency department. Alternatively, some primary care physicians actively send patients to the emergency room simply to expedite specialty care. Here at my center it is not uncommon for a patient to come to the ED with back pain because the neurosurgeon’s next available appointment was eight weeks out.

The Hospital’s Perspective

Emergency departments can be a profit center. Charges for the same low acuity conditions treated in primary care clinics increase two to three fold in an urgent care setting, and then another five to ten times in an emergency department. Also, to some degree, and based on federal legislation, hospitals are forced to treat (or at least triage) all patients coming to their emergency department.

In short, Americans’ addiction to emergency departments represents a perfect storm of circumstances: Patients want rapid answers; primary care providers have a pop off valve for after-hours or specialty care; and hospitals get revenue. As a result, many hospitals have begun actively promoting ED care. If you call my hospital and many of our competitors, a pleasant recorded voice says, “We heard you. You didn’t like waiting in our emergency department. So why not sign up, stay at home and we’ll call you when it’s your turn.”

But wait? Stay at home until you’re called? Doesn’t this—almost by definition—make the situation not an emergency? Seeking help for an emergency health issue after hours shouldn’t be like taking a number to be served at the deli counter.

What are some possible solutions? For starters, rather than compete for the most compassionate marketing slogans, perhaps resources could be devoted to “right spacing” and “right placing” patients. Imagine being worried about a headache, back pain, fever, or a myriad of other typically non-life threatening conditions. You get yourself to an emergency room, where a healthcare professional meets you and determines your condition is non-life threatening. You are offered to be shuttled to the primary care clinic a block away, or alternatively, you can walk over to a kiosk ten feet away—just like the ones at many local drug stores. In either case, you could be offered follow up treatment as part of the solution.

Yes, there are obstacles to overcome. Most notably, providers would have to be paid for this type of care. Emergency physicians rightfully object to triaging patients (with the associated liability that comes with such work) without some form of reimbursement. Ultimately however, the patients we’re responsible for are better served at a lower cost in less emergent settings. As healthcare professionals, doctors, and administrators, we’re in the business of dispensing diagnoses and treatments. But, shouldn’t we be something more, a guide helping our patients make good choices in terms of where and how they are treated during their journey through the healthcare system?

Dr. Alan Pitt is Chief Medical Officer at Avizia, as well as an attending physician and professor of neuroradiology at the Barrow Neurological Institute.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Telemedicine service “MyDocNow” launches in Philippines]]> https://www.americanwell.com/telemedicine-service-mydocnow-launches-in-philippines/ 2018-07-20T18:57:40Z 2016-03-08T00:00:00Z New service connects healthcare providers and patients via US-proven, easy to use platform. The team at MyDocNow is pleased to announce their easy to use telemedicine platform is now available in the Philippines. The new service offers virtual medical services that connect medical professionals and patients seamlessly using a telemedicine portal that has been successful […]

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New service connects healthcare providers and patients via US-proven, easy to use platform.

The team at MyDocNow is pleased to announce their easy to use telemedicine platform is now available in the Philippines. The new service offers virtual medical services that connect medical professionals and patients seamlessly using a telemedicine portal that has been successful in the United States.

The new platform will offer a real-time experience for patients, offering everything from video consultations with doctors, comprehensive patient education, remote monitoring from a smartphone device, delivery of prescriptions and medications, lab tests results, and doctors/nurse home visits 24/7 in selected metro areas.

“All these services are combined in a single user experience with a soon to be released mobile app, not available in any other country in Asia” … Mr. McClung, CEO MyDocNow.

MyDocNow is partnering with US-based company Avizia, a pioneer in the delivery of a telehealth platform that works with large health systems and insurance providers to connect patients to healthcare specialists anywhere in the world.

“The MyDocNow platform is ideally suited to support a large scale deployment for public health purposes in rural deployment in the Philippines for the people” …. Dr. Jose Miquel Vergara, Chief Medical Officer MyDocNow

MyDocNow operates a call center, which is a 24/7 facility fully staffed by highly skilled nurses who are trained to perform basic triage, use the functions of telemedicine to manage the doctor/patient connection in order to facilitate a consultation and follow up with a patient and doctor satisfaction survey.

MyDocNow encompasses Lifeline Rescue, a Manila-based organization with over a 100 doctors providing emergency response services in urban areas while delivering other innovative services.

Since it is estimated that 65% of interactions with healthcare organizations will be conducted via mobile devices by 2018, MyDocNow is proud to offer a streamlined mobile platform that will bring both medical professionals and patients in the Philippines into the next generation of healthcare.

MyDocNow is also partnering with Davao Doctor Hospital to deploy it services. “We see the MyDocNow service as an extension of our objective to be a technology leader in delivering new services to Philippine patients as well as Beyond our Borders.” … Raymund del Val, President & CEO.

The company will offer its services to doctors, the general public (via apps in Google Play and Apple Stores) and insurance companies.

The new virtual healthcare delivery system will make it possible for healthcare providers in the Philippines to save time while providing premium services to patients. Patients will receive the quality care of a doctor at their convenience. It is simple, secure and confidential.

About MyDocNow

MyDocNow was created by a dedicated and dynamic team of medical and health professionals, information technology specialists, and prominent business leaders.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Our Week at #HIMSS16]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5540 2016-03-04T15:35:53Z 2016-03-02T21:51:47Z If you're at HIMSS and you haven't had a chance to say hi yet, head on over. The team would love to meet you!

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Over the weekend, employees from teams across American Well boarded planes headed to Vegas, ready to take HIMSS by storm!

Our fabulous events planner, Liz Kelliher, flew in early to set up the American Well booth, #2154.

Liz having fun

Doesn’t it look great?

On Monday, Katie Ruigh, our VP of Product, was interviewed about our newest product release, AW9 by Joe Lavelle, with intrepidNow

katie being interviewed

And again Wednesday, this time with Danielle Russella, President of Customer Solutions, by HIMSS Media

Danielle

Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Peter Antall, was just interviewed by MobiHealthNews

Peter mobihealth

Here’s Ali Hyatt, one of our Marketing Directors, with Dave Plummer, one of our Account Management Execs, celebrating the announcement of American Well’s partnership with the Advisory Board 

Advisory Board pic

Our Product Specialists have been giving demos all week. Check out Lauren Meyer in action

lauren giving a demo

Wednesday night’s Tele-tini Happy Hour was a success!

teletinis

Keep your eyes peeled for Dr. Roy Schoenberg, our CEO, caught here in a rare moment of stillness at the booth

Roy at AW booth

If you’re at the conference and you haven’t had a chance to say hi yet, head on over to see us at Booth #2154. The team would love to meet you!

whoel gang at the booth

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[#PEF16 Recap: Private Exchanges, Consumerism, and Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5507 2020-03-30T14:21:56Z 2016-02-29T20:17:21Z Last week IHC convened more than 300 employers, brokers, wellness companies, and insurers for two days of collaborative discussion around the private exchange market - we were there, and here's our recap.

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According to the Institute for HealthCare Consumerism (IHC), over the next few years between 35 and 75 million Americans will access employee benefits through private exchanges. So it was fitting that IHC convened more than 300 employers, brokers, wellness companies, and insurers last week in Dallas for two days of collaborative discussion around the private exchange market.

The post-ACA era environment marks a drastic change in employer-sponsored benefits. Healthcare roles are rapidly evolving, while the types of organizations available to serve employees continue to expand. Discussion at the forum zeroed in on consumer understanding of private exchanges, the new role of brokers, and how healthcare organizations can help eliminate consumer confusion about healthcare benefits in general.

Amwell attended the forum, which underscored the rise of telehealth in the employer market and addressed its integration into private exchanges. Our employer experts sat on two key panels.

PEF16 recap

What Do Employers and Consumers Want From Telehealth?

Andrea Comporato, Amwell’s SVP of Health Plans and Employers, sat on a panel to discuss what consumers and employers want from telehealth. The key takeaway from Andrea’s presentation was that “each one of us has the chance to improve quality and reduce costs.” The rise of private exchanges signals that consumers are looking to innovative care delivery solutions like telehealth to add value to their care.

Andrea’s co-panelist, Jake Cleer from New Benefits, believes that consumers still require education about the benefits of telehealth. He projects that as consumers become more informed and telehealth use cases move beyond urgent care, organizations will need to look at exchanges and groups as a mechanism for purchasing a telehealth platform.

Chronic Care Management in the Telehealth Age

Claudia Rimerman, Amwell’s VP of Channel Relationships, led a discussion on consumer acceptance of treatment via telehealth, with a focus on chronic care management. Other telehealth companies, wellness companies, carriers, and consultants participated in the discussion, expressing the opinion that the ability to manage chronic care on a platform is a unique enabler. A key takeaway from the discussion was that telehealth is evolving beyond urgent care and the types of use cases for physicians and patients are becoming much more varied. Beyond urgent care and chronic care management, telehealth can now deliver behavioral health services, general health assessments, nutrition, diabetes management, and smoking cessation services. And with platforms like Amwell, telehealth can improve health outcomes, reduce costs, and drive engagement.

If you attended the Forum, what are your thoughts? How can organizations continue to be health advocates for consumers?

 

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Discover the Power of Telehealth at #HIMSS16]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5444 2020-03-30T14:22:10Z 2016-02-26T16:32:16Z Telehealth is on every healthcare exec’s 2016 agenda and this year’s HIMSS is the place to get a deeper dive into what’s next for online care.

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Telehealth is on every healthcare exec’s 2016 agenda and this year’s HIMSS is the place to get a deeper dive into what’s next for online care. Here’s a teaser to tide you over until the conference kicks off Monday – yesterday we released the first-ever telehealth mobile SDK.

Your Guide to Telehealth at HIMSS

There’s so much to see in such a short time. Here’s our guide to telehealth at HIMSS. See you there!

Learn here.
MON. FEB. 29 – 8:30 AM – 4 PM: Connected Health Symposium
Topics include the impact of telehealth and mobile tech on policy, payment, and how to achieve clinical and financial results.

Test drive here.
TUES. MAR. 1– THURS. MAR 4: Check out AW9: Booth #2154
Meet with Amwell’s professional product team and receive live demos of our newest product features including industry first video solutions.
We’re also hosting live demos of our kiosk on March 1-2.

Kiosk

 

And keep an eye out for our leadership team – Roy Schoenberg, Danielle Russella, and Peter Antall will all be there. They’ll be joined by John Jesser from LiveHealthOnline and many of our other partners.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Empowering Patients with Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5452 2020-03-30T14:13:17Z 2016-02-26T15:09:31Z Our team at American Well recently co-authored a white paper with Deloitte Consulting’s Center for Connected Health. The white paper is a deep dive into the core use cases for telehealth.

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Our team at Amwell recently co-authored a white paper with Deloitte Consulting’s Center for Connected Health. The white paper is a deep dive into the core use cases for telehealth. And it also includes a step-by-step guide to developing and implementing an effective telehealth strategy. The paper gets at the root of telehealth’s power to transform healthcare.

AW_Deloitte_WP

Read the abstract, then download the full paper:

With the rapid evolution of the health care industry, health care delivery organizations are leveraging innovative solutions to meet these challenges. It is imperative that provider-centric organizations seek solutions that combine disease management, health informatics, and supporting technologies to improve access to care and health outcomes. Telehealth—the provision of high-quality, real-time video encounters between patients and providers—is a powerful tool that can support healthier patients. At its core, telehealth aims to provide care anytime, anywhere, on any type of device—be it a web browser, a mobile phone or tablet, or a standalone kiosk. When telehealth is fully integrated into an existing health care system, patients have access to on-demand care from an accredited provider with the touch of a button. This bypasses lengthy wait times and can avoid a high-cost urgent care visit. A patient’s location and mobility does not limit the scope or quality of available care. The need to travel to a brickand-mortar facility is no longer an assumed requirement or barrier to care. Rather, a patient can engage in a virtual visit with a provider from the comfort, security, and privacy of home—or wherever he or she may be.

 

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Healthcare Pyramid: the Healthcare Navigator needs telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/healthcare-pyramid-the-healthcare-navigator-needs-telehealth/ 2020-03-30T14:22:21Z 2016-02-26T00:00:00Z Sometimes we forget that good healthcare requires not only a diagnosis and a treatment plan but also patient compliance (a willingness to come along on the journey to wellness). But patient compliance often faces obstacles in the form of the fear and anxiety that beset patients and their loved ones, or when a provider faces […]

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Sometimes we forget that good healthcare requires not only a diagnosis and a treatment plan but also patient compliance (a willingness to come along on the journey to wellness). But patient compliance often faces obstacles in the form of the fear and anxiety that beset patients and their loved ones, or when a provider faces an unusual condition. In these situations, patients want a provider (or in some cases providers making up our care team) who is not only knowledgeable, credible and trusted; they want one who can answer a range of questions and with whom they can build a personal relationship.

Sadly, this is rarely the case these days. As treatment options have increased so has medical sub-specialization. Many of today’s highly skilled physicians have sacrificed breadth for a depth of knowledge. Physician reimbursement pressures have exacerbated the problem, resulting in 12-minute visits with little time for patient questions and no time to build a trusting relationship. The result: a fragmented healthcare experience for the patient.

As providers we have to ask ourselves, what’s missing? The specialist may be the right person in the right role, but at a given time they may not be the ideal primary care provider. The reason for this lies in the current structure of care in the United States, a structure I see as the healthcare pyramid.

The Healthcare Pyramid

Imagine our healthcare system as a pyramid.

  • At the top you’ll find a shrinking number of expensive specialists focused on fixing an immediate need, NOT building a relationship with each patient.
  • The bottom is comprised of a growing population of patients that demands access to care from the right doctor, at the right time, and from someone who cares.
  • In the middle we are missing someone to build and maintain a trusted relationship with patients.

So, how are we going to fix that? The solution is found in the marriage of people and technology. On the technology end, we have the emerging platform of Telehealth. Also called telemedicine, it has many applications and is a tool that can be utilized by a range of healthcare professionals. On the human side we have healthcare providers. Now, to fill that gap in the pyramid, let’s look at how telehealth makes possible and supports a new kind of healthcare provider called the healthcare navigator.

The Healthcare Navigator

Healthcare navigators are team members who have the time and patience to establish and maintain a trusting relationship with patients. These providers do not have the training of a specialist and are therefore less expensive. However, supported by experts in near real time via telemedicine tools, they would be both credible and critical in accessing the right expertise at the right time, navigating the healthcare waters for the patient.

Initially, healthcare navigators would build trust through one or two in-person visits with the patient. After that, they could turn to cost-effective tools—text, phone and video—to maintain the relationship. This arrangement eliminates repeated office visits that are too costly, both in terms of time and travel for the patient, and it is equally efficient for the navigator. It’s also flexible, allowing for in-person intervention when necessary.

Let’s illustrate what a healthcare navigator experience would look like with the following scenario: Patient John Doe is 80 years old and has been discharged from the hospital after heart surgery. A few days later, his wife is concerned with John’s appearance and believes something is wrong.

  • Without a Care Navigator: John’s wife calls the specialist asking for a call back. If no one is immediately available the front desk is trained to recommend that John be taken to the ER. Patients hate re-entering the ER queue, and hospitals can’t afford it. Re-admissions drive up costs, providers can be penalized, and hospitals can lose Medicare supplements.
  • With a Care Navigator: John’s wife calls her care navigator to report the concerns. The care navigator meets John and his wife virtually or at an outpatient facility to review John’s records and gather diagnostic data. The care navigator then directly contacts the specialist for expert advice, receives the specialist’s instructions, and writes John a prescription for a different medication to avoid negative side effects.

Here we see how the new role of the care navigator restores some of the human element so often lacking in healthcare today. But clearly what makes such a position possible is telehealth. Telehealth is the mortar that fuses each layer of the healthcare pyramid together. Without the proper tools, providers are plagued with archaic methods for managing encounters, patient engagement, and care team collaboration. As telehealth platforms emerge, we’re seeing tools that were previously siloed become integrated into enterprise systems with healthcare’s role-based hierarchy built-in. Through telehealth we can connect the right provider to the right patient at the right time. And in doing so, we will reverse the fragmentation of the patient’s healthcare experience.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Making the Most Out of Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/making-the-most-out-of-telehealth/ 2020-03-30T14:22:35Z 2016-02-22T00:00:00Z Every health system has a different strategy for using mHealth and telehealth that builds on its own strengths. No two mHealth or telehealth programs are alike. Some telehealth platforms look great from the outside, but fall short of expectations. That’s why today’s healthcare providers looking to transition into telehealth must to consider both internal and external […]

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Every health system has a different strategy for using mHealth and telehealth that builds on its own strengths.

No two mHealth or telehealth programs are alike. Some telehealth platforms look great from the outside, but fall short of expectations. That’s why today’s healthcare providers looking to transition into telehealth must to consider both internal and external criteria before deciding what programs to pilot and what solutions to implement.

Medical University of South Carolina“A lot of the problems are with a fear of the unknown,” says Shawn Valeta, director of telehealth for the Medical University of South Carolina, which has had an extensive telehealth platform for more than a decade. “There’s so much out there; you have to sit down and think about what you really want to do with it before you start.”

Backed by $50 million in state funding, MUSC has developed a solid telestroke and tele-behavioral health program and has plans to grow its school-based telehealth program, provide telehealth services to correctional institutions, build a platform for large employers and get into remote patient monitoring.

In 2015, MUSC rolled out its school-based telehealth program to 3 select schools. MUSC began by identifying schools in the state’s poorest regions, where children with any sort of health issue went straight to the nearest ER. By linking with those schools, MUSC gave children and their parents – and school staff – a quick and convenient link to healthcare, reduced absenteeism, improved morale and reduced the strain on local hospitals. The school-based telehealth program is now in 20 schools, and MUSC plans to double that total by next year.

“Telehealth used to always be about distance and time, but now it’s about maximizing efficiency” for both patient and provider, says Valeta. “To do that, you need to make things more user-friendly. You don’t even think about the technology for a while – that comes last, and the people and the processes come first.”

Georgia Partnership for TelehealthIn nearby Georgia, Rena Brewer overseas the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT) network that spans three states and is branching into Central America. Brewer joined the GPT after serving as the director of the Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center, one of 14 federally funded centers (12 regional and two national) scattered across the country to provide guidance to local healthcare providers and others interested in launching and sustaining telehealth programs. While she recognizes the growth of telehealth across the country, Brewer has also see a lot of telehealth projects fail.

“Technology can be very intimidating, and many people make the mistake of thinking that’s where you have to start,” Brewer says. “Some hospitals just can’t get past that initial loss of revenue, so they lose interest or fail to push back. … They don’t realize that you don’t have to buy the Cadillac – you look at what you have and what your community really needs the most, you manage expectations and you create relationships.”

GPT also sees the potential in growing school-based telehealth, with more than 70 schools in Georgia alone are connected to their network, in addition to dozens of schools in neighboring states and a few colleges. Brewer and the GPT are also developing tele-behavioral health programs, and are pushing into skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

Hospitals are also partnering with local physicians and clinics to create a community health network to extend the care typically only available in hospitals to patients who simply need to visit their local provider.

Both MUSC and the GPT are partners with Avizia, a Reston, Va.-based developer of telehealth platforms. Mike Baird, the company’s CEO and Alan Pitt, its chief medical officer, see three factors supporting the growth of telehealth:

  1. legislative interest
  2. consumer demand
  3. electronic medical record (EMRs/EHRs)

“Software is leading the trend,” says Baird. “EMRs haven’t been great at integrating” with telehealth platforms and mHealth devices, “but it’s becoming an evolution. Healthcare is pushing that forward, is demanding new ways to integrate.”

“The EMR is an operating system that isn’t deep,” adds Pitt, “so it needs apps to be more functional. That’s where telemedicine comes into play.”

Dr. Pitt has been monitoring a shift in how health systems approach care coordination. Traditionally, they created external business partnerships, but now they are bringing resources back into the institution. Fee-for-service care is giving way to role-based care, with the provider being the link. Business models are changing, but there are challenges. Hospitals generally have poor strategic roadmaps, says Pitt, and aside from the organizations with telehealth directors or chief innovation officers (a rare but growing C-suite position), few have someone on hand to “own” telehealth. In addition, the industry as a whole isn’t mature enough yet for health system to simply pick up the technology, plug it in and make the best use of it.

Click here to read the complete article on mHealthIntelligence.com.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[What Can Digital Marketing Do for Your Telehealth Service?]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5336 2020-03-30T14:22:54Z 2016-02-19T14:28:21Z Let’s talk digital—specifically, the main digital marketing channels and how they can be collectively leveraged in a campaign to drive patient engagement with a health system’s telehealth service.

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By Bridget Kelly, Client Marketing, and Sarah Natoli, Content Marketing

Let’s talk digital—specifically, the main digital marketing channels and how they can be collectively leveraged in a campaign to drive patient engagement with a health system’s telehealth service.

But first, what do we mean when we talk about digital marketing for telehealth?

Digital marketing is an umbrella term—it refers to all the different types of technology available today to support marketing efforts. Digital marketing tactics are immediately attractive simply because of the world we’re living in. There’s not much that patients can’t do on their mobile phones—including addressing a medical issue through a telehealth visit. It’s common sense to market a technology service like telehealth via the web and social media, but beyond that, a digital marketing campaign also works for telehealth because it can serve up some really powerful results at a low cost. This is crucial in the early days of a telehealth service when utilization is still building.

Websites

A website is the anchor of a digital marketing campaign. It’s the best way to share information about your telehealth service with your patients—the consumers you built the service to help. There are a range of options, from building a single, well-constructed telehealth page on an existing health system website to creating a standalone microsite dedicated solely to the service. Either way, leveraging a health system’s website is low cost (compared to paid advertising), and it gives you control over content and messaging because you own it. Beyond dedicated pages or websites, you can also strategically place messaging about your telehealth service on key pages of the website. Your analytics program (e.g., Google Analytics) will help you identify the high-traffic “go to” pages patients visit—not necessarily the home page, but perhaps an urgent care page, “find a doctor” page, or specialty page—you can place information about telehealth there, increasingly the service’s visibility to your patient population.

Blogs

Blogs are an all-around win. Not only are they low cost, they’re also easy to set up, easy to use, and are a great way to show your patients how telehealth will help them. Blogs help you increase the amount of content you have online–in fact, feel free to re-purpose existing content on your blog so more patients see it. To create a high-value blog, post about issues your patient population cares about, whether that’s access to care, chronic disease management, specialty services, or something else. Blogging is a great way to educate your patients about telehealth and the ways it benefits them, and then you can link blog readers back to the website to access the telehealth service. Because the purpose of a blog is to engage patients on the issues that are important to them, follow the 80/20 rule. At least 80% of the content must speak directly to patient interests in a non-promotional way. Don’t make a blog an advertisement for your telehealth service—instead write a post about how telehealth saves patients time and money while effectively treating their health conditions. One final note on blogging—to build an audience you have to commit to a regular posting schedule. Start with one post a month and increase the frequency as resources permit.

Email

Like most of the tools in the digital toolbox, email is low cost and user-friendly. With email you can reach a wide audience easily through one of the many intuitive email tools designed for mass outreach. Email is the best vehicle to tell your patients about the great content available to them through your owned assets, like your website and your blog. Through email, you can open the lines of communication with your patient population, designing campaigns that communicate how your telehealth service can give them greater access to care. Email campaigns are most effective if you build out a great contact list, which you will do as you encourage patients to enroll in telehealth and learn more about the service. Email lets you talk to patients about telehealth, even if they haven’t yet had a visit. Another way to effectively leverage email marketing is to include a strong call-to-action with every message. For example, if you have a blog post on the convenience of telehealth, your CTA could say “Learn how telehealth can help you get back the time lost in the waiting room” and link patients over to an enrollment page with information about the clinical services you offer through telehealth.

Organic search

When people talk about search engine optimization, aka SEO, they’re typically referring to strategic placement of keywords to guide people to your website. For a digital marketing campaign to promote telehealth, good optimized content (from your blog, webpages, etc.) will ensure your patients find your telehealth service when searching the web for care solutions. Seeing the need for 24/7 acute care solutions, many health systems launch telehealth for urgent care first, so a good SEO strategy would bring up your telehealth service when a patient searches for urgent care after hours. But SEO today goes far beyond keywords. SEO is really about building credibility with Google. You can start by reviewing Google’s best practices  for building healthy website architecture, along with creating high-quality and regularly updated content that your patients read and share.

Paid digital ads

Paid is the glitzy side of digital marketing—think social media ads, paid search ads, display ads/banner ads, and video. Paid ads are more high profile (e.g., Facebook), but they are also high cost, not only in terms of dollars but time. Effective paid ads are the result of extensive testing to find out which patients to target and what will grab their attention. Paid is a long-term strategy with high dividends, but the ramp-up is slow and it takes work to find the “special sauce.” The best way for a health system to reach patients through paid digital ads is to partner with a company that specializes in this channel and is an expert in telehealth. Paid is always challenging, but a relatively new service like telehealth is particularly complex and really requires an expert. Learn more about Amwell’s paid digital marketing services.

Owned social media pages

Saving the best for last, the final component of an integrated digital marketing campaign is social media. Why is social media so great? It’s free and it’s fun. Healthcare is serious business—hospitals face a big challenge in overcoming the perception of clinical coldness that patients associate with care. That’s all the more reason to get creative with social, engaging your patient population and reminding them that the healthcare “machine” is actually powered by humans. There’s a lot of opportunity to get creative with telehealth promotion—For Valentine’s Day, our in-house direct-to-consumer marketing team created eCards for consumers who use our Amwell app to share with friends and family. Not only are they creative and fun, they promote the telehealth app. A final note on social media—like blogging, to gain followers and get “likes” and shares, you need to commit to posting regularly on topics of interest to your followers. Social media is a way to build relationships with your patients, and like any other relationship, one nurtured through social needs regular attention.

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Putting it all together

There are a lot of options when it comes to digital marketing, which can make the idea of launching a digital marketing campaign daunting, especially when a health system is devoting so many resources to building the telehealth service itself (learning the platform, training the doctors, selecting the best services to offer). But the two go hand in hand—without a digital marketing campaign to put telehealth in front of patients, telehealth won’t be utilized. The good news is health systems are not in it alone. When a health system partners with a consumer-focused telehealth company like Amwell, that company comes with a team of expert client marketers ready to support you across all the digital channels that successfully share your telehealth service with your patients. It’s ok to start slow, and don’t be afraid to test new ideas or ways of doing things.

 

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[How the Medical Licensure Compact combats physician shortages]]> https://www.americanwell.com/how-the-medical-licensure-compact-combats-physician-shortages/ 2020-03-30T14:23:12Z 2016-02-17T00:00:00Z Rep. Heather Carter has introduced HB 2502 to the Arizona House of Representatives to enact the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact into law. The key motivation of the bill is to better serve Arizona patients by overcoming our substantial physician shortages. Twelve states have enacted the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact so far, with 12 more states […]

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Rep. Heather Carter has introduced HB 2502 to the Arizona House of Representatives to enact the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact into law. The key motivation of the bill is to better serve Arizona patients by overcoming our substantial physician shortages.

Twelve states have enacted the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact so far, with 12 more states introducing Compact legislation—6 of them in the 2016 legislative season. (Map courtesy of the Federation of State Medical Boards, http://licenseportability.org/)

Arizona joins five states (Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Washington) in introducing model Compact legislation this year. Twelve states already have enacted the Compact, “a comprehensive process that complements the existing licensing and regulatory authority of state medical boards and provides a streamlined process that allows physicians to become licensed in multiple states,” according to the bill. The Utah and Wisconsin legislatures unanimously approved the Compact for their respective states.

The Compact is a result of cooperative efforts of state medical and osteopathic boards and is administered by an Interstate Commission consisting of two representatives from each state that has enacted the Compact. It’s built on a system of state-based regulation proven to ensure safe health care delivery.

The Federation of State Medical Boards says the Compact “is expected to expand access to health care, especially to those in rural and underserved areas of the country” and “would strengthen public protection because it would help states share investigative and disciplinary information that they cannot share now.”

The Compact is supported by 31 state medical and osteopathic boards and endorsed by multiple medical associations and health systems, including the American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, and American Academy of Family Physicians.

How the Compact works:
The Compact provides physician licensure that is recognized among all Compact states, but each state in the Compact maintains local enforcement in order to protect its own citizens.

Physicians designate a “state of principal license,” which is the state where the physician holds a current license to practice medicine and is also the state where the physician lives and/or the state where at least 25% of the physician’s practice of medicine occurs and/or the state where the physician’s employer is located. Physicians apply for Compact licensure through the member board of the state of principal license. The expedited license is good in all Compact states.

The Interstate Commission coordinates information sharing among the Compact states’ member boards regarding any public action or complaints or disciplinary or investigatory information against a Compact-licensed physician.

States can leave the Compact by repealing their Compact statutes.

What the Compact does:

  • Enables physicians to treat patients as the patients move among states.
  • Allows physicians to efficiently obtain licensure in all participating states.
  • Speeds up licensure of physicians who want to serve Arizonans and thereby reducing our physician shortage.
  • Preserves Arizona’s existing licensure processes.
  • Reduces the likelihood of federal preemption of states’ authority over physician licensure—a powerful tool for States’ Rights.
  • Facilitates new delivery models involving telemedicine and cross-border practice.

What the Compact doesn’t do:

  • Change Arizona’s existing medical practice act.
  • Supersede Arizona’s autonomy and control over the practice of medicine.
  • Affect the ability of Arizona’s medical boards to assess fees, determine fee structure, or collect fees.
  • Affect Arizona’s disciplinary process.
  • Preclude physicians who don’t meet Compact standards from obtaining licensure through traditional Arizona processes.

To protect patients, standards are high for physicians eligible to participate in Compact licensure:

  • Must have graduated from an accredited medical school.
  • Must have passed the US medical or comprehensive osteopathic medical licensing exam within three attempts.
  • Must hold specialty certification.
  • Must have successfully completed approved graduate medical education.
  • Must possess a full and unrestricted license to engage in the practice of medicine issued by a member board.
  • Must never have been convicted, received adjudication, deferred adjudication, or community supervision or deferred disposition for any offense.
  • Must never have had a license subjected to discipline by a licensing agency.
  • Must never have had a controlled substance license or permit suspected or revoked.
  • Must not be under active investigation by a licensing agency or law enforcement authority.

You can help Rep. Carter to enact the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact into law by reaching out to your Arizona Representative and Senator—letting him or her know that you support HB2502. Always ask your Representative and Senator to vote for HB2502. If you need help finding your Arizona Representative and Senator, go to http://azredistricting.org/districtlocator/. Also, I urge you to consider telling others about this opportunity to improve availability of quality health care for Arizonians.

For more information on the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, including its legislative status in each state, endorsements, and a discussion Compact myths and facts, go to http://licenseportability.org/.

About the Author

Mike Keeling, Esq.

Mike Keeling, Esq., partner in Keeling Law Offices, describes the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to the Arizona Telemedicine Council in Phoenix January 20.

 

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[The Top 10 Questions Physicians Ask About Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5314 2020-03-30T14:12:09Z 2016-02-16T21:23:53Z As the Chief Medical Officer of telehealth company American Well and Medical Director of our national medical network Online Care Group, I have compiled the top 10 questions I typically receive from providers considering telehealth.

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(Reprinted from HealthcareIT News)

By Dr. Peter Antall, Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Antall

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that telehealth technologies are on the rise. Telehealth is being adopted by major health systems, health plans and employers in order to deliver more immediate access to care that can also reduce overall costs to the organization and the people or patients they serve. This widespread adoption is being driven in large part by consumers who want telehealth-based care. In a survey conducted by Amwell, we found that 65 percent of consumers want to use telehealth and 7 percent would consider leaving their primary care physician for one that offered telehealth.

Fortunately, the lure of telehealth for hospitals and providers is not solely about the risk of losing patients – it’s also about gaining market share. For hospitals and providers, telehealth enables more frequent connections with existing patients and the ability to reach new patients in new markets. It also offers a tool to improve team-based care and coordination.

With any new technology that has the potential to radically change the care delivery model, there are questions and fears. As the Chief Medical Officer of telehealth company Amwell and Medical Director of our national medical network Online Care Group, I have compiled the top 10 questions I typically receive from providers considering telehealth.

#1: How does it work?
Telehealth can be accessed from anywhere across all types of mobile devices – smartphone, tablet, and desktop or laptop computer. For acute-care needs, providers can be accessed for on-demand visits. For follow-up, team-based or specialist care, scheduled visits are also available. Video-based telehealth enables a two-way, face-to-face conversation between the patient and provider that allows you to see the patient and guide them through a physical examination, as well as see elements of their environment for more informed decision-making.

#2: Is it legal? 
In short – in most states today, yes, telehealth is permissible. It is important, however, to understand the medical board regulations with regard to telehealth. For example, with few exceptions for second opinions and specialist provider-to-provider consultations, it is a prerequisite that the provider be licensed in the state in which the patient is located. Generally all states’ medical boards allow telehealth to occur between a patient and provider that has a previously established relationship with an in-person visit. All states generally accept consultations from providers who have not established a prior in-person relationship with the patient if the patient is at a clinical site and is presented by a clinical presenter. To be sure, we recommend contacting your local state board or you can visit the American Telemedicine Association site for more information.

#3: How can I get paid for using telehealth?
Each major payer type – Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial payers – has different guidelines for reimbursement and telehealth coverage. The good news is that telehealth continues to receive increased levels of reimbursement – a trend we expect to pick up steam in the next 6-12 months – and it’s important to continue to review with your selected technology provider what the opportunities for payment are based on insurer type.

#4: Which use cases or conditions should I treat with telehealth?
It makes sense to start with the low-hanging fruit. Many providers choose to start with after-hours urgent care or office hours because offering telehealth here addresses an immediate need for additional care. Another key use case is medication management, and telehealth can have significant impact in adherence. Additionally, chronic care and follow-up appointments can be efficient applications of telehealth since a patient already has an existing relationship with the provider.

#5: How do I examine a patient?
While telehealth is a different modality and type of visit, we find that providers very quickly adapt to a telehealth examination. For one, when evaluating a patient, the provider uses the same skills as they would in another setting – this is primarily true when doing a face-to-face video. While there are limitations relative to a brick-and-mortar visit, a live video based visit is more robust than a phone call or any asynchronous communication. At a high level, there are a few key factors when conducting a live telehealth video visit: taking a good history; assessing the overall appearance of the patient – including mental status, pain level, and toxic or ill appearance; and whether or not the patient might need in-person care. For the latter, it’s important to take more of a triage stance. An added benefit to examination over telehealth is that the provider can gain information from the home that would not have been available in a clinical setting. Patients are generally comfortable in their home and often open up more. The provider has access to the patient’s social setting and may see family members.

#6: How do I go about building a program?
Building a program depends a lot on the use case. Offering on-demand visits simply involves ensuring that a provider is available to meet the patient in the virtual waiting room. These providers can be in the office setting and integrated with the reception staff workflows or can be done from the home with no need for support staff.

While a telehealth platform like Amwell does support an independent schedule, most providers desire to have one unified schedule, typically in the EHR. When offering follow-up or chronic care, it helps to develop workflows in which existing staff schedules the visit and provides the patient with the appropriate instructions.

#7: What is the liability?
To date, telehealth is associated with a very low incidence of malpractice or board action. In four years of practicing nationally, Amwell’s medical network, Online Care Group, for example, has not had a single malpractice case or physician called before a medical board. This is similar to the experience nationally.

#8: What kind of results can I expect to see? 
Patients love telehealth. This form of care is convenient, cost-saving, and high-tech. Patients love how this can improve access as well as how it helps them save time and money. Telehealth can extend care to after hours or weekends, and when this care is offered by a known physician, it provides comfort to the patient in addition to ensuring care continuity.

Most physicians have had the experience of seeing patients in an ER or urgent-care center in which the patient has had a long wait. These patients are already dejected from enduring a poor experience. In telehealth, instead, patients are generally pleased and even excited at the short wait and the convenience. This makes for a positive experience and results in higher patient satisfaction – in turn fostering stronger relationships between the patient and provider and ties to the associated hospital brand.

#9: What’s the best medium for practicing telehealth? 
I strongly believe in video as the most robust form for a visit – while traditional telephone-based telehealth visits are attractive to some patients – and Amwell and other providers offer them – it does not allow for face-to-face physical and behavioral examination. Some use cases would be impossible to treat over phone telehealth versus video telehealth. A good example is dermatology. If a patient is presenting a specific type of rash, they would want to be able to show that to their provider, and that’s obviously not something that can be done over the phone.

#10: Why should I do telehealth? 
There are many reasons our providers cite for getting into telehealth, but the most commonly cited are: (1) the interest from consumers and want to retain patients as well as attract or reach new patients; (2) the efficiency of delivering a video visit, on-demand or scheduled, based on a provider’s own availability and flexibility to work remote; (3) extended hours – ability to pick/choose hours based on a provider’s own schedule and work outside the clinical setting; (4) the great value you’re delivering to patients through a relatively low-cost and convenient visit; and (5) the potential to use telehealth to have more frequent touch points with patients to help manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cancer.

 

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Employee Spotlight]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5289 2020-03-30T14:12:54Z 2016-02-10T17:01:45Z Meet Craig Bagley, Director of Sales Engineering. ”American Well is in a unique position to continue to drive the [healthcare] industry forward and deliver on the change that patients want and need. It gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be involved with that.”

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Name: Craig Bagley

Title: Director, Sales Engineering

Department: Sales

Start Date: July, 2009

Amwell is in a unique position to continue to drive the [healthcare] industry forward and deliver on the change that patients want and need.  It gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be involved with that.

Craig

What attracted you to Amwell?

When I interviewed for my first position at Amwell, which was in Hosting, I was just a kid coming out of college looking for a job related to my degree. I hadn’t really defined what I wanted to do professionally beyond that. But during the interview process, I became really enthusiastic about the company’s product and potential. I also felt the enthusiasm that others had within the company. And once I really understood that energy and its power, I knew I wanted to become a part of it – I was hooked. Seven years later, I’m still here and I love this place.

What were you doing before you came on board?

My focus in college was computer and electrical engineering, so most of my experience was in hardware and electronics design, though I’d done some software engineering work. I’ve worked in three different departments at Amwell, and I’ve really appreciated the opportunity that’s given me to expand my knowledge base and try out different roles.

What other positions have you held here? Tell us a little bit about your Amwell journey.

I think the better question is, What positions haven’t you held here? When I was first hired at Amwell I worked in Hosting. That gave me a great opportunity to learn about the architecture of the application, how it’s built and deployed, and how it’s supported behind the scenes. Also, getting to work under the VP of Hosting was great; he’s one of my mentors at Amwell.

From there I moved to Technical Services (TS). This was a dramatic change because I went from working on the systems that support the application to actually configuring the application for our customers. We were frequently warping the different configurable parts of the application to perform in ways they weren’t designed, so it was always an exercise in “thinking outside of the box.” While in TS I was given the opportunity to travel to Australia to work as a consultant with a new customer, so my girlfriend, now my awesome wife, traveled with me. During my time in Australia, in addition to supporting them with the hardware, I was able to become familiar with the front-end of the product and what the deployment is like from our customer’s point of view. From both a career and life perspective, going to Australia is the best learning experience I’ve ever had.

My current position is in Sales Engineering. This position has been challenging, but also satisfying and rewarding. I love having the opportunity to work with talented people like our VP of Product on a daily basis. When I first spoke with our CEO about the position he told me about “evangelizing for the product.” That’s a phrase I’ll never forget. Evangelizing for the product is something that I truly enjoy doing and something I strive to get better at every day.

What does a day in the life of a Sales Engineer look like?

My days can be focused on many different things. From a prospective customer standpoint, I’m usually speaking about the technical aspects of our product. This could involve the hosting of our application for large clients, the security in place to protect those assets, or the different ways in which our product can work with a client’s patient portal, mobile applications, and integrate with their electronic medical record software. When I’m not doing that, I’m usually answering technical questions in RFPs, working with other departments on internal projects, or trying to pry information from people in Product, Marketing, and the Online Care Group, just for my own knowledge.

At the end of every day, it remains an undying effort of mine to understand this business and this company from every angle that I can. There’s a lot of intrigue for me in understanding where we see this product going over the next few years, learning how we can convey that to customers and prospects in an effective way, and seeing how all of that is sustained on the business side.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I’m huge into volleyball. I’ve played for about 15 years. I met my wife playing volleyball, and I’ll always maintain some schedule of indoor and beach volleyball in my life. Travel is next on the list. My wife and I love going to locations that are off the beaten path. Part of our honeymoon was a visit to Myanmar, which was a dream of mine! I’m also a rabid fan of the New England Patriots, Conor McGregor, and reading historical non-fiction.

Have you used Amwell’s direct-to-consumer app, Amwell?

I’ve used Amwell tens of times. The most interesting story happened about a year ago. I was playing tennis ball with my sister’s golden retriever, Tucker. He’s a tank. He brought the ball back to me, but it was still about 5 feet away. As it bounced toward me, I attempted to kick it and Tucker lunged forward to push it closer to me. I kicked him square in the mouth. He took it like the champ that he is, but my foot was split open with a really deep gash. He stood over me as if to say, “Hey man, why aren’t you throwing it anymore?” So, I threw the ball and then called Amwell. Teresa Myers, my favorite Amwell doctor, saved me from the hassle of sitting around an urgent care clinic on a Saturday afternoon.

What are your thoughts on the ways healthcare is changing and what we can expect to see in the future?

One of the awesome aspects of my job is that I get to travel around and speak with health systems and health plans about intentions and ability to deliver healthcare to their patients. Every prospective customer that I speak with articulates the fact that they want to deliver quality healthcare to their patients in a convenient way. While the definition of convenient quality care is changing and will continue to change, I think Amwell is in a unique position to continue to drive the industry forward and deliver on the change that patients want and need. It gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be involved with that.

When you talk about telehealth and your role here with friends and family, what do you say?

When I talk to family and friends about my role here, I like to talk about our products as a whole. I think people see or use Amwell and they think that’s all that our company does. In reality, there is so much more behind our product than just direct-to-consumer telehealth. Sure, DTC telehealth is part of it, but we’re working with some of the most prestigious health systems and health plans in the country to find new and innovative ways to deliver care to patients using our technology. That’s the part I like to talk about, and people seem very interested in learning about that.

Interested in a career at Amwell? View open positions.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[New Bipartisan Legislation Promotes Telemedicine]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5205 2020-03-30T14:23:47Z 2016-02-04T14:56:10Z Yesterday, Democrats and Republicans from both the House and the Senate came together in a bipartisan effort to introduce important legislation with significant positive impact for telemedicine.

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By Kofi Jones

hands-shakingYesterday, Democrats and Republicans from both the House and the Senate came together in a bipartisan effort to introduce important legislation with significant positive impact for telemedicine. The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies CONNECT for Health Act (S. 2484 in the Senate and H.R. 4442 in the House) would greatly expand providers’ ability to leverage innovative telehealth healthcare technologies to increase access to healthcare for Medicare enrollees—and be appropriately paid for doing so.

The number of online medical consultations is expected to increase from less than one-tenth of 1% of the total for medical consultations today to 20% or more within the next 20 years. Hospitals, health systems, health plans, employers, and provider groups have rapidly been adopting telehealth for its ability to increase reach, better manage chronically ill patients, and produce better clinical outcomes.

Removing Medicare Barriers to Telemedicine

But as the proliferation of these technologies has increased, Medicare policy has lagged significantly behind.  The infrastructure for commercial and Medicaid payment for telehealth and remote patient monitoring has steadily improved, with states and health plans committing to reimburse providers who extend their care through technology. Only Medicare has remained stuck, requiring patients to drive to the care they need, rather benefiting from technologies that can bring the care to them. Up to this point, only rural Medicare enrollees could benefit from these innovative care models, and only if they were willing to travel.

The Connect for Health Act will help providers transition from today’s fee-for-service environment to the goals of alternative payment created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Providers making this transition will be able to use telehealth and remote patient monitoring without the current geographic barriers. Telehealth would become payable in alternative payment models without site restrictions, and become a part of the basic benefits package for Medicare Advantage. The bill will also significantly increase the number of approved locations and use cases for leveraging these technologies.

This announcement marks the most significant effort to embrace technology as a vital part of our health care ecosystem since EMRs. With 50 million Medicare enrollees, many coping with multiple chronic conditions, mobility issues, and significant wait times to access care, it’s time to take off the handcuffs.

We, as a nation, have a wonderful habit when faced with fundamental challenges. We innovate.  It’s time to innovate in our policy making and unlock the potential for care delivery for our most high need patients. The CONNECT for Health Act is the path forward.

This news broke yesterday, and already the Act has significant endorsement. Read press releases from these key supporters:

American Telemedicine Association

American Medical Association

ERISA Industry Committee

For more background on this important issue, read our introduction to provider reimbursement for telemedicine, and look for more posts as the reimbursement landscape continues to evolve.

 

kofijonesheadshotKofi Jones is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Amwell. Her primary focus is on collaborating with federal, state, and congressional leaders to ensure the proliferation of modernized and safe telehealth policies. Prior to joining Amwell, Kofi spent four-and-a-half years working for the Deval Patrick Administration, first as a Public Affairs Director and spokeswoman for the Governor’s Economic Development Secretary, and then as the Executive Director of the Commonwealth Marketing Office. She has also spent over 15 years as a communications and media expert, with a decade of experience in television news as a producer, reporter, and anchor.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[New Survey Confirms Employers Want Telemedicine]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5190 2020-03-30T14:24:05Z 2016-02-03T15:12:07Z We fielded a broad survey of over 240 employers, looking at the drivers of growth, as well as what employer telehealth looks like today and what benefits experts envision it will look like in the near future.

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By Sarah Natoli, Content Marketing Manager

Towers Watson predicts that by 2018, 80% of employers will offer a telehealth benefit to their employees. This projection is in stark contrast to 2014, when just 22% of employers had adopted telehealth, and the close of 2015, which marked a further rise to a third of employers offering the benefit. Clearly the trend is growth, but what is the story behind it?

At Amwell, we set out to answer this question, fielding a broad survey of over 240 employers in Q4 2015. Our survey took a close look at the drivers of growth, as well as what employer telehealth looks like today—from use cases to the structure of the benefit to utilization—and what the benefits experts we surveyed envision it will look like in the near future. Importantly, our survey yielded insight that is not only relevant to this market, but to the health plan and health system sectors as well.

A Snapshot of the Growing Employer Market

Our survey contained key questions such as which employers offer telehealth today, how long these employers have had the benefit, and for those that don’t yet offer it, when they plan to add it. Despite telehealth being a relatively new benefit for most employers, adoption is on the rise.

Employer pie

Drivers of Growth

Why are employers embracing telehealth? What is the value-add for businesses of all sizes? Our survey identified the top five reasons employer adoption continues to grow, listed here in order of importance:

  1. Reducing medical costs—81%
  2. Improving access to care—78%
  3. Making employees happy—56%
  4. Improving employee productivity—53%
  5. Attracting new talent—21%

These priorities point to both a clear belief in quantifiable ROI and an understanding of the more qualitative benefits of a telemedicine offering. For a more in-depth look at each of these factors, download our free eBook, which summarizes the findings of this benchmark study.

Use Cases

While urgent care remains a priority for employers, both today and looking toward the future, our survey revealed that employers are remarkably forward thinking when it comes to services they offer through telehealth.

Top of mind both today and in the future are the following:

  • Urgent care
  • General health assessments
  • Behavioral health
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Diabetes counseling
  • Smoking cessation

Looking ahead, we see even more creativity, with a desire to launch asthma counseling, lactation support, occupational health, and more specialized services using telehealth as a vehicle.

The Structure of a Telehealth Benefit and the Challenges Employers Face

Employers are acutely aware of the need to make the benefit attractive, and to that end, they use strategies such as low co-pays, telehealth kiosks, and integration of telehealth with existing services.

AmericanWellKioskHero

Many still are challenged by low utilization rates of the benefit in these early days, but there are certainly solutions here. Experienced telehealth companies like American Well can help employers market the service to their employees and even provide tailored communications and creative digital and print campaigns to drive engagement. On top of these best practices, employers benefit from working with companies that offer utilization reports and best practices.

Employer Report1_Page2_Generic2Employer Report2_Generic_V6_October

Impact for Other Players in the Healthcare Market

Now is the time for telehealth—with our survey and others confirming growth in the employer market, there is no doubt that those employers who delay risk becoming viewed as laggards. And the same goes for the health plans, private exchanges, and health systems that depend on relationships with these employers. Employers want telehealth—and not just a neat, out-of-the-box urgent care offering, but a nimble platform that can support infinite use cases and promote the many healthcare goals of their unique populations.

Download the eBook today for more on market impact. For more information on the employer market, visit our online Resource Center.

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Mike Lemovitz <![CDATA[The Buzz About Telemedicine Kiosks]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5043 2020-03-30T14:24:24Z 2016-01-25T15:04:22Z HealthSpot recently notified its customers that it was no longer in business. In this post we'll share our insight on kiosks based on our own product line, to address the many questions raised by our partners and industry experts.

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By Mike Lemovitz, Director of Client Relations

There’s been a lot of talk in the healthcare world about telemedicine kiosks lately, as HealthSpot recently notified its customers that it was no longer in business as of December 31, 2015. HealthSpot made a valuable contribution to the industry, with the company’s products and services going far in demonstrating the benefits of telehealth. In this post we’ll share our insight on kiosks based on our own product line, to address the many questions raised by our partners and industry experts. Our own experience with kiosks has been quite positive – we’ve seen great growth and potential in telehealth kiosks.  We’re now deployed in many states to a number of partners in the hospital and health system, retail, and employer spaces.  

On-Demand Care 

There are many reasons why our customers are so excited about kiosks and how they’re using them. One key difference between our kiosks and HealthSpot’s kiosks is that ours deliver care on demand – you can go into an Amwell kiosk and see a doctor immediately, whereas other kiosk companies require scheduling ahead of time.  Our workflow allows patients to connect with a doctor or clinician right in the kiosk, which eliminates the need for on-site staff members to accompany each kiosk at all times. When a patient begins to interact with one of our kiosks, they are matched to an appropriate provider (both in terms of licensure and specialty) within seconds, and a live video visit begins.  The kiosks can be remotely staffed by a client’s providers, or staffed by Online Care Group, our exclusive affiliate national telehealth provider group.  Telemedicine on demand, whether in a grocery store or in an office, is a key reason our partners are so excited about the kiosk line Amwell offers.

telemedicine kiosk photo

Here are a few more reasons that employers, retailers, and health systems are excited about kiosks.

Employers

Employers are using kiosks in a multitude of ways.  Kiosks are a simple, cost-effective option for opening an on-site clinic.  With kiosks, employees can be matched with a doctor of their choice within seconds, and biometric devices come as part of the setup to address the needs of the visit.  Having a kiosk on site provides affordable access to care, for both the employer and the employee.  

A kiosk also helps reduce absenteeism and increases productivity for the employees, as well as freeing up time for staff that would otherwise run an on-site clinic.  In a manufacturing environment, kiosks are quite an effective way to keep employees healthy.

Retailers

Retailers offer kiosks because they’re a simple, highly visible way to offer consumers healthcare where they need it.  In comparison to a staffed, on-site clinic, the costs are much lower, while still providing the healthcare benefits that customers need.  

Kiosks increase store traffic, bringing in – and retaining – new customers with this value added service.  Retailers also acquire opportunities to work with important partners such as health plans, hospitals, and employers.

Health systems

Health systems and hospitals also find value in using kiosks, often to expand their brand to surrounding areas.  Kiosks help hospitals project their presence into retail or office locations, bringing healthcare services to new locations.  Health systems are always looking to expand their patient bases, and kiosks allow them to introduce their services to large groups of new patients. Kiosks can provide valuable services like biometric screenings in more rural locations, giving patients the information they need to take necessary steps toward improving their health.

telemedicine kiosk biometric sensor

Overall, kiosks can be a powerful tool in delivering healthcare where the patients are.  Kiosks expand awareness about telehealth in general, helping deliver treatment and care to patients who need it.

If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for our upcoming kiosk webinar on January 26th at 1 pm, or get more information here.

Mike Lemovitz is a Director of Client Relations at Amwell, working with our health system clients to roll out telehealth.

 

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Amwell Receives NCQA Certification with a Score of 100%]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=5023 2020-03-13T14:46:35Z 2016-01-20T19:42:58Z American Well is pleased to share that our affiliate national telehealth network of providers, Online Care Group, just received certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for physician credentialing, with a perfect score of 100 percent!

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By Sarah Natoli

Amwell is pleased to share that our affiliate national telehealth network of providers, Online Care Group, just received certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for physician credentialing, with a perfect score of 100 percent!

With this certification, Online Care Group demonstrates its continued commitment to excellence under the leadership of Dr. Peter Antall, who has led OCG from its inception and was recently promoted to Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Antall works with our partners, providing thought leadership, support for new clinical programs (including provider training, use-case design, workflow development, and clinical quality), and engagement of physicians. Under Dr. Antall’s leadership, Online Care Group will expand to new specialties this year, including pediatrics, dermatology, and psychiatry.

Read more about the NCQA certification in our press release, and visit our webpage to learn more about Online Care Group and the services available through this national network.

NCQA is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA is committed to providing health care quality information for consumers, purchasers, health care providers and researchers.

NCQA certification

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Next Generation ACO Model Bodes Well for Telemedicine Reimbursement]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=4978 2020-03-30T14:04:59Z 2016-01-15T15:13:18Z This week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) unveiled the Next Generation ACO Model. This program may be just what telehealth advocates have been waiting for – a clear demonstration of the value of telehealth in FFS Medicare, which bodes well for provider reimbursement for telehealth visits.

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By Kofi Jones, VP of Government Affairs, Amwell

This week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) unveiled the Next Generation ACO Model, which allows select Medicare ACOs to assume more risk in service of pursuing efficient and effective patient care. One of the most exciting opportunities in this program is clearly the ability for them to utilize telehealth above and beyond what is currently permissible in fee-for-service Medicaid.  This may be just what telehealth advocates have been waiting for – a clear demonstration of the value of telehealth in FFS Medicare, which bodes well for provider reimbursement for telehealth visits.

CMS logo

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) published a press release in support of the Next Generation ACO Model. “Today is an important day for Medicare beneficiaries getting access to value-based telehealth care,” said Gary Capistrant, Chief Policy Officer of ATA. “We think all Medicare ACOs should be able to use telehealth to provide the Medicare range of coverage, and we hope that Congress and CMS will explore allowing more use of innovation to serve better Medicare beneficiaries.”

Read more about the importance of this opportunity to this new class of ACOs and the entire telehealth ecosystem on The HealthCare Blog.

And for a broader understanding of the telemedicine reimbursement landscape, read the reimbursement blog post from 2015. The Medicare section goes into detail about the barriers to reimbursement, providing a full-scope view of the challenges for telemedicine. For more on the significance of the Next Generation ACO program, read mHealth’s analysis.

Look for more insight into the provider reimbursement issue in 2016 on the blog, as we continue to look at what it takes for providers to get paid for telehealth.

kofijonesheadshotKofi Jones is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Amwell. Her primary focus is on collaborating with federal, state, and congressional leaders to ensure the proliferation of modernized and safe telehealth policies. Prior to joining Amwell, Kofi spent four-and-a-half years working for the Deval Patrick Administration, first as a Public Affairs Director and spokeswoman for the Governor’s Economic Development Secretary, and then as the Executive Director of the Commonwealth Marketing Office. She has also spent over 15 years as a communications and media expert, with a decade of experience in television news as a producer, reporter, and anchor.

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Sarah Natoli http://Natoli <![CDATA[Employee Spotlight]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=4895 2020-03-30T14:25:56Z 2016-01-05T22:00:39Z Meet Bradley Keist, Business Communications Manager on the Sales Operations team. "In this age of convenience, we’re all about the right now," says Bradley, "and telehealth does exactly that for healthcare."

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Name: Bradley KeistBrad

Title: Business Communications Manager

Department: Sales Operations

Start Date: October 12, 2015

In this age of convenience, we’re all about the right now. And telehealth does exactly that for healthcare.

 

What attracted you to Amwell?

I heard about Amwell through a former colleague (and friend!)—what got me excited about the opportunity was the idea of being part of something really big. Telehealth has the potential to completely reshape the way all of us think about healthcare. The swift evolution of technology is thrilling—and to belong to the generation that was the first to really see it become a critical aspect of everyday life, it’s an amazing feeling. To me, what Amwell is doing is another iteration of that concept. Every day, there’s something new. The world is changing. Healthcare is changing. And Amwell is leading the way.

What were you doing before you came onboard?

Most recently I was a copywriter for an international cruise line. I generated a vast assortment of sales and marketing collateral. It really honed my writing skills and prepared me for my role at Amwell.

Prior to that, I was an editor and project manager for a multinational publishing and education company. My role there was very similar to what I do now at Amwell. One of the things I loved most about that job was the tight relationships I formed with the sales team—something I missed when I moved over to the cruise line. Here at Amwell, I’m once again working closely with sales representatives on a daily basis.

What does a day in the life of a Business Communications Manager at Amwell look like?

One of the best aspects of this job is that no two days are alike. It’s the most challenging position I’ve ever held—every day I’m growing (as a professional and as a person) and learning something new. A large portion of my time is spent fielding queries from potential clients who want to know more about Amwell and the products we offer. I work directly with the sales team to facilitate these exchanges.

My team and I are also constantly working to brainstorm and generate new sales collateral. What do our clients want to know? What is it they need? What engages them? How do we pique their interest? How do we get them to commit to Amwell? These are just some of the questions we ask ourselves. As Amwell continues to blossom and flourish, I feel privileged to be helping shape the “Amwell voice.”

What are your hobbies outside of work?

My top priority in life is to always experience something new—every day, if possible. I’m willing to try (almost!) anything, at least once. I love to explore, be it the Blue Hills south of Boston, or the bustling city streets in The Hub. I love the outdoors—jogging through my neighborhood of Dorchester, camping up north in New Hampshire, or spending a lazy afternoon at the beach. I love traveling too, and try to plan at least one big vacation a year (I spent two weeks in Central Europe this past year, and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life). I love to cook—and even more, I love to eat! But none of it would be quite as enjoyable without my Boston terrier, Baxter, by my side.

Have you used Amwell’s direct-to-consumer app, Amwell?

I’ve used the Amwell mobile app once so far, and it was a fantastic experience. Back in 2014, I suffered from a pretty serious case of reactive arthritis. A few months ago, minor stiffness in one of my joints returned, and I was unsure if the arthritis was returning or if it was something completely unrelated. I didn’t want to lose an entire day meeting with a rheumatologist, unless I was certain it was something serious. So, I decided to try out Amwell. I spoke with Dr. Mia Finkelston and she was superb. We discussed both my previous and current issues. Her breadth of knowledge was outstanding—and seeing her there, in her white lab coat, it truly felt like an in-person visit. In the end, she recommended a basic pain reliever, and in no time, the discomfort in my joint was gone!

What are your thoughts on the ways healthcare is changing and what we can expect to see in the future?

The deeper I submerse myself in the world of telehealth, the more I’m convinced it’s the way of the future. In this age of convenience, we’re all about the right now. And telehealth does exactly that for healthcare. I’ve experience it for myself—immediate access to quality care is right there in front of you. While the different uses for telehealth are just beginning to be realized, as technology advances, and more businesses start offering the service, it won’t be long before “telehealth” is a household word.

 

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Webster Brehm <![CDATA[Teleradiology as a Hub for Telemedicine]]> https://www.americanwell.com/teleradiology-as-a-hub-for-telemedicine/ 2020-03-30T14:26:07Z 2016-01-05T00:00:00Z Teleradiology is a Hub Enabling Care Through the Continuum via Telemedicine In Dr. Pitt’s latest edition to At the Intersection of Technology and Health, we re-visit the dawn of teleradiology, its application, and how telemedicine opportunities are present in other specialties. Teleradiology moves images from one location, typically where the patient had the exam, to another for interpretation. This transfer […]

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Teleradiology is a Hub Enabling Care Through the Continuum via Telemedicine

In Dr. Pitt’s latest edition to At the Intersection of Technology and Health, we re-visit the dawn of teleradiology, its application, and how telemedicine opportunities are present in other specialties.

Teleradiology moves images from one location, typically where the patient had the exam, to another for interpretation. This transfer allows load balancing and sub-specialty interpretation within a pool of radiologists. By having the right radiologist read the right case, outcomes improve while the cost of care is reduced.

What if teleradiology networks could be used for more than X-Rays? What if the channels built to moving images could also facilitate other care opportunities for telemedicine?

After all, the requirements for telemedicine and teleradiology have significant overlap, both in terms of technology and business relationships. Radiology practices are well positioned to offer an up-sell in the form of additional services on the networks. Hospitals in need of remote radiologists are likely in need of other specialists. Specialty expertise and load balancing are not problems specific to radiology. For example, neurologists and psychiatrists would all benefit by partnering with the existing imaging networks.

As one of only three clinical departments (the other two being lab and pharmacy) providing critical results, radiology is well positioned to act as a hub enabling communication and collaboration throughout the care continuum. There would be some challenges with the workflow and video, in addition to how radiology uses store-and-forward while clinical care requires face-to-face real time encounters. However, these challenges are not insurmountable.

Radiologist’s primary role will always be domain experts for imaging. However, CT, ultrasound and MR haven’t changed much in the last 30 years. Radiology should explore other opportunities. By leveraging decades of experience in managed services, teleradiology can add value to many other forms of care.

Click here to read more At the Intersection of Technology and Health.

Avizia was acquired by Amwell in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[Implementing Telemedicine]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=4859 2016-02-05T13:15:33Z 2015-12-23T15:39:18Z On the road to telehealth, there are many different choices and considerations employers need to contemplate before choosing the offerings and provider that are right for them.

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Implementing Telehealth for EmployersOn the road to telehealth, there are many different choices and considerations employers need to contemplate before choosing the offerings and provider that are right for them. But before implementing telemedicine into your benefits package, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself. These questions will inevitably affect which telehealth vendor you choose to work with, and the offerings you decide to implement. Here are the top questions to ask before implementing telemedicine:

On the road to telehealth adoption, there are many different factors employers need to take into consideration to determine which offerings and vendors are right for them. This set of questions will guide you during your search, choose who to work with, and help you ultimately implement a successful program:

Did you have a visit?

Telehealth offerings differ in many ways, and  you need to understand exactly what you’re signing up for. The best way to do that is to test the product yourself by having an online doctor’s visit. During the visit, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is it straightforward or confusing to sign up?
  • Is it easy and intuitive to select and connect with a doctor of your choice?
  • Would your employees be able to use the program easily and effectively?

These may seem like simple questions, but you’d be surprised how often they can be overlooked. The main goal of telehealth is to make medical care quick, convenient, and affordable without sacrificing quality of care; but if the process isn’t seamless, your employees will never use the service and reap its benefits.

When do you plan to launch?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to launch telehealth with you annual benefits cycle. In fact, often it’s better to launch telehealth off-cycle to help highlight the benefit to employees without added distractions. Once you decide what works best for your business and when you’re going to launch, you need to work with your vendor to set up a practice, tailor communications to employees, and ensure health plan notification and carrier readiness.

How quickly do you want to launch?

It’s important to set timeframe goals for a launch, and then compare them to vendor launch plans to see if they’re realistic. Knowing exactly how long it will take to bring telehealth to market is essential for scheduling an effective launch date. Telehealth vendors should be transparent in communicating what a launch entails, including setup, design, benchmarks, marketing initiatives, and more.

Who will you offer telehealth to?

Will you offer it to employees and dependents, or will you offer it only to employees who take advantage of employer health benefits? The choice is ultimately yours, but we believe that by making telehealth available to all employees and dependents, you realize higher cost savings and see more wide-spread use.

Will you add a kiosk to your telehealth offering?

Some employees use telehealth kiosks to provide an on-site clinic for employees.  If you already have some form of on-site clinic or care service, you have to decide if you will replace it with a kiosk or integrate a kiosk into your current on-site offerings. These questions are critical when considering kiosks:

  • Does the experience require that the kiosk be staffed or can it operate unstaffed?
  • Does the telehealth vendor provide their own kiosk and support, or do they outsource it from a third-party vendor?

Do the cost savings make sense?

Many employers turn to telehealth not only to provide their employees with a great benefit, but to reduce medical costs and save money. Compared to urgent care and emergency visit options, telehealth costs a fraction of the price; even with primary care visits, telehealth is typically a better value. This means if only a portion of your employees’ replace their traditional healthcare visits with telehealth visits, your cost savings can be substantial. That being said, it’s important to have an ROI model that is based on your expected costs. Don’t rely on averages. Make sure the telehealth vendor works with you to create a realistic and attainable ROI model based on your company’s unique telehealth goals.

Are you integrating telehealth into your current benefits package?

Integrating telehealth with your health plan allows for automated eligibility and claims. Real-time eligibility calls are used to verify coverage, services, and copays for your employees, while claims are generated automatically so doctors don’t have to focus on paperwork—just patients. Whichever vendor you choose should be experienced in these types of integrations, as well as be able to work with any health plan you select.

How are you going to communicate?

Unlike most healthcare services that offer open enrollment once a year and then go radio silent, a telehealth provider can actually provide ongoing communications throughout the year. Make sure you ask yourself how and how often you want to communicate the benefits to your employees. It’s also important to ask vendors if they help provide that ongoing communication. Communication about the service drives utilization, which in turn drives cost savings. If employees are unaware of the benefit, they won’t use it. It’s up to you and your vendor to education and inform in the most effective way possible.

How will you track utilization?

Once you have successfully implemented telehealth, it’s important to track utilization. Utilization not only shows how many employees are taking advantage of the benefits; it can also give you a glimpse into how accurate your ROI model is. Be sure to ask vendors if they provide utilization reports by month and year so you can track progress and cost savings over time.

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Beth Principi <![CDATA[The Virtual Doctor Is In]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=4741 2020-03-17T19:26:36Z 2015-12-11T14:28:12Z American Well recently held a webinar that included a Q&A session with Dr. Lauralee Yalden, an Online Care Group doctor who practicies virtual medicine. This post contains some insightful excerpts from that interview.

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Did you know 57% of physicians are willing to see patients online? Amwell recently released our Telehealth Index: 2015 Physician Survey eBook, which shares insight into the key factors about telehealth identified by the survey as impor
tant to physicians.  In conjunction with the release of our eBook, we held a webinar that included a Q&A session with Dr. Lauralee Yalden, an Online Care Group (OCG) doctor. Online Care Group is the national telehealth network of
providers that exclusively serves Amwell’s clients and staffs our consumer offering, Amwell. This post contains some insightful excerpts from that interview. If you’re interested in joining our upcoming Telehealth Index: 2015 Physician Survey webinar, you can register here. During the webinar, we will conduct a similar Q&A with another OCG doctor, Dr. Mia Finkelston.

yaldencropped Dr. Lauralee Yalden is a board-certified Family Medicine physician and graduate of Ross University School of Medicine who has been in practice for over 10 years. She balances her time between providing online care for Amwell and working in the local emergency room at The Veterans Administration.  Dr. Yalden is very active with the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians,) where she founded and chairs the AAFP Telehealth Member Interest Group.

 

What motivated you to want to practice medicine online?

Dr. Yalden: I have been practicing online with the Online Care Group for three years, and initially it was just part of a big job search. I needed to move from Florida to New York City, so I did a very extensive search and was fortunate enough to learn about Amwell. I was very impressed by Amwell’s unique vision and forward-thinking ideas. As a family medicine physician, I was used to taking calls at all hours of the day and night from home. Being able to actually see the patients by video really adds to your diagnostic capabilities, and really offers a comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and treatment plan.

How did you become trained to practice online?

Dr. Yalden: The training included a member of the Online Care Group staff coming down to my home in Florida and demonstrating the capabilities of the platform and the EHR. The EHR is very similar, and in many cases easier to use, than many of the other EHRs on which I’m trained. We reviewed all the different options that are available for communicating with the patient, went over good documentation, how to review a patient’s medical records, and how to access reading materials in order to offer patients the best treatment plan possible. All the training physicians also practiced with one another to simulate what it was like to see someone online. We took turns playing doctor and patient online to see what is was like diagnosing, evaluating and managing a patient. We were also doing our best to optimize our treatment for each individual condition.

How many patients do you see online?

Dr. Yalden: It really depends on the day, shift and number of physicians available. Typically, I work full-time day shifts and see two to three patients per hour. I am able to see 40-50 patients per week, but this number can vary. During cold and flu season the number is usually higher, and during weekends I tend to be busier.

As an individual doctor practicing within a medical group, how do you work together around developing clinical protocols?

Dr. Yalden: That’s a great question. Online Care Group is a very robust medical practice with full-time physicians spanning the entire United States. We come from different medical backgrounds, with the majority being primary care physicians—but we have physicians who are board-certified in emergency medicine, pediatrics, etc. We really work together as a group, meeting once a month and each serving on many different committees as part of the Online Care Group. One of our main objectives is to try to optimize our diagnoses and treatment of different medical conditions online. We discuss different medical conditions and develop templates and overall standards of care to practice medicine online. You do have to tailor your physician exam and questions to patients online, but we’re really seeking to answer the same questions and diagnose the same conditions as we do in a brick and mortar practice.

How did you adapt your practice for the online environment?

Dr. Yalden:  I can give you an example of a patient case that I saw earlier today. It was a very nice mother and her son calling in with a case of conjunctivitis. This is something you would see in any office—pediatrics, primary care or online. Conjunctivitis is one of those conditions where you can really make an excellent diagnosis online. With mom’s help, we were able to do a good evaluation of her son. I was able to see the eye up close, and using the iPhone I could take a look inside the mouth at the tonsils. Mom was able to touch and feel for any lymph nodes, and she touched the ears to make sure there weren’t any other cold symptoms or aches and pains. Parents are very educated and knowledgeable about what is going on with their children. She had already taken his temperature and had a whole bunch of wonderful information even before she logged in. She had a very good sense of the child’s health, medical history and immunizations.  It was wonderful to be able to provide this level of care at home. Mom was very excited about not having to take the time to go in and see the pediatrician, and she was happy to be able to do this online.

How would you handle a medical emergency if you were presented with one online?

Dr. Yalden: These kinds of things do happen from time to time exactly as they do in an office setting. Someone will connect with you online and they’re having chest pains or difficulty breathing, and by looking at them and getting a sense of their medical history you’re able to assess really quickly if these symptoms are more complicated than something you can manage online. In cases like that, I assess if the patient is in a safe environment, and figure out if they’re home alone or if there is a family member available to help—either by calling 911 or by taking that person to a higher level of care. There have been times where I’ve had to activate my 911 emergency protocols and stay on the line with the patient until the ambulance has arrived and picks up the care of the patient. The bottom line is we do have protocols in place for these types of situations.

FinkelstonInterested in learning more? Join us on Thursday, December 17th at 2:30 pm for the 2015 Physician Survey Insights Webinar.  Mary Modahl, Senior Vice President at Amwell, will review the research and share additional insights on the Physician Survey, while Online Care Group (OCG) doctor, Mia Finkelston, MD, answers your questions during a live Q&A.

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Ali Hyatt <![CDATA[The Top 5 Reasons Health Systems Like CHS Are Adopting Telehealth]]> https://www.americanwell.com/?p=4676 2020-03-17T19:15:12Z 2015-12-07T20:42:21Z You may have seen the news that Community Health Systems (CHS) is now partnering with American Well to make telehealth available to their patients for primary care video visits. CHS, one of the largest health systems in the U.S., is the most recent system to join our growing roster of partners.

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By Danielle Russella, President, Customer Solutions

 Danielle180

You may have seen the news that Community Health Systems (CHS) is now partnering with Amwell to make telehealth available to their patients for primary care video visits. CHS, one of the largest health systems in the U.S., is the most recent system to join our growing roster of partners. Today we are proud to call about 30 health systems, representing over 300 individual hospitals nationwide, our clients. They include an impressive list of innovative, diverse organizations like Intermountain Healthcare, Providence Health System, Avera Health, Nemours Children’s, Jefferson, Indiana University, and Cleveland Clinic.

Telehealth For Health Systems Guide To Best Practices

Following health plans, health systems are the fastest growing sector of the telehealth adoption market. You may be wondering – why? The top five reasons health systems are implementing telehealth are to:

1.Deliver a better experience that will retain and attract patients

Patients consistently report high satisfaction with telehealth encounters (97% of patients report satisfaction with an online telehealth encounter with Amwell) because it provides convenient after-hours care options and reduces wait times, travel time and costs associated with accessing care at traditional care settings. This high satisfaction leads to a better overall experience and a greater affinity for the health system. Naturally telehealth can be a draw for an existing patient to stay with their doctor if they can see them more regularly over video – and may attract new patients beyond the immediate vicinity of that hospital or system.

2. Reduce hospital admission rates

Hospital readmission rates are a big issue today, and with huge associated costs. Telehealth can help reduce admission rates by enabling doctors, care managers or pharmacists to see patients over video for follow-up care and care management for chronically ill and post-surgical patients.

3. Enhance depth, breadth and distribution of medical providers and specialists

Community Health Systems and other partners have multiple campuses and hospitals with specialists and other allied health providers distributed throughout these l